BEN Pringle was the Rotherham United hero as his second-half strike earned his side their first away victory of the season at the expense of previously unbeaten Millwall.
After weathering an early storm from the home side, the Millers’ gradually grew in confidence either side of the interval and they were rewarded when Pringle struck just five minutes into the second half.
Following their narrow defeat at the hands of Watford in midweek, the Millers’ made just one change to their starting line-up with Ipswich loanee Anthony Wordsworth thrust straight into action at The Den after penning a deal with the Millers’ earlier this week.
The visitors’ were quick out of the blocks and good work from Paul Taylor saw him evade the attentions of his marker before releasing Alex Revell, who forced the home side to concede a corner.
From the resultant set-piece, Pringle swung a delightful centre which was only half-cleared by the home rearguard and the ball fell invitingly into the path of Wordsworth, who tried his luck with a dipping half-volley which narrowly cleared the home crossbar.
The home side sprung into action when Scott McDonald’s inviting centre saw Kirk Broadfoot and Martyn Woolford grapple in the box, with Woolford being felled but the referee waved away home appeals for a spot kick before Lee Martin’s inswinging corner in the next phase of play flew over a ruck of bodies before Broadfoot snuffed out the danger by clearing the ball behind at the far post.
The Lions’ were looking the most likely and they came within a whisker of the breakthrough when Martin’s clipped ball to the far post saw Jamaican Ricardo Fuller rise highest between two defenders but under pressure, he could not direct his point-blank header goalwards as the ball whizzed past the upright.
Just past the quarter hour, Josh Wright dragged a volley harmlessly wide from the edge of the box after Martin had got the better of Broadfoot on the left flank before Lee Frecklington tried his luck at the other end but he failed to trouble David Forde in the home goal.
Minutes later, Richie Smallwood was penalised for tripping Martin in an inviting position and from the resultant free-kick, a training ground move involving Scott Malone and Woolford gave McDonald a glimpse of goal but he failed to hit the target with a tame effort.
Just past the half hour mark, the Millers’ were indebted to skipper Craig Morgan after his timely tackle prevented Martin firing a cross-cum-shot across goal before a rare foray from the visitors’ saw Taylor get the better of Shaun Williams before firing a left-footed effort which blazed over the bar.
Despite being second best for much of the half, the Millers’ they had their best spell of the game just shy of the interval.
Fine interplay involving Taylor and Smallwood gave Pringle the opportunity to fire a deep cross which was turned behind.
The ex-Derby schemer curled the resultant corner into the danger area which saw Broadfoot have a goalbound shot blocked by a retreating defender and with the home defence struggling to clear their lines, Taylor worked a yard of space on his marker to fire an effort which was arrowing towards the bottom corner until Forde’s late intervention, but agonisingly for the Millers’, Revell was unable to poke the rebound home despite having the goal at his mercy.
In the last kick of the half, Malone was the beneficiary of a lucky rebound off Morgan but he fluffed his lines when he blazed over.
Half-time:- Millwall 0 Rotherham United 0
The Millers’ started the second half as they finished the first when a long punt by Adam Collin was not cleared decisively by the Lions’ defence and Taylor drilled a shot through a ruck of bodies from the edge of the box which had Forde nervously scurrying across goal as it struck the side netting.
Revell was then seemingly flattened on the edge of the box but the referee waved play on before the visitors’ were rewarded for their early second-half pressure when the breakthrough on 50 minutes.
There looked little danger until the ball found Taylor on the left flank, who teased and tormented Carlos Edwards, before delivering a tantalising centre which was aimed at Revell, who failed to make contact but the ball fell invitingly for the on-rushing Pringle, who stuck out a leg to divert the ball home from close range.
The home side responded immediately to the setback and Williams fired a snap shot from an acute angle which Collin spilled initially before the ball was bundled clear while Woolford fired over from distance in the next phase of play.
At the other end, the Lions’ failed to deal with a long ball forward and Pringle almost made them pay with a rasping effort from distance which forced Forde into a superb flying save.
Just past the hour mark, sub Magaye Gueye almost made an immediate impact when he firstly climbed highest from Malone’s centre but he headed over before he almost latched onto McDonald’s pinpoint delivery moments later.
With the game in the balance, home skipper Alan Dunne became the first to see yellow after Taylor spun him expertly before being pulled down and Rotherham almost exacted retribution with the resultant free-kick when Pringle’s fantastic delivery narrowly evaded the attentions of Revell, who had ghosted away from his marker in the box.
The home side were starting to chuck bodies forward and Morgan had to be on-hand to clear the danger before McDonald’s superb cross caused havoc in the visitors’ rearguard as Collin raced from his line to punch clear to no avail but Joe Skarz was bravely on-hand to head the ball over, with the ex-Bury defender injuring himself in the process.
Skarz took no further action in the game before Rotherham countered with panache paving the way for Taylor to show fleet of foot to almost put Frecklington in the clear but Mark Beevers blocked the attempted pass.
With time running out for the home side, Frecklington bravely threw himself infront of Dunne’s piledriver before Taylor was yellow-carded for time wasting as the Millers’ held on to record their second victory of the season.
Full-time:- Millwall 0 Rotherham United 1
Millwall- Forde, Dunne, Wright (Gueye 51), Williams, Martin (Easter 72), Woolford, Beevers, Fuller (Gregory 85), McDonald, Malone, Edwards. Unused:- Gerrar, Briggs, Webster, Abdou.
Rotherham- Collin, Skarz (Wood 82), Arnason, Broadfoot, Frecklington, Revell (Bowery 88), Pringle (Brindley 90), Morgan, Taylor, Wordsworth, Smallwood. Unused:- Loach, Tidser, Swift, Derbyshire.