JORDAN Bowery notched his first-goal for the Millers in dramatic fashion as his late header helped Steve Evans’ men claim a share of the spoils at highly-fancied Bournemouth.
Following a lacklustre first-half, the home side took the game by the scruff of the neck when Steve Cook pounced at the far stick after Callum Wilson was twice denied the breakthrough.
However, the Millers responded superbly and after Alex Revell and Kari Arnason went close, Bowery struck late to earn his side a precious point.
Following the international break last weekend, the Millers made five changes to their starting line-up since their last outing against Brentford, with three players making their Rotherham debuts.
Wickersley-born defender Frazer Richardson was handed his first start in the right-back slot while skipper Craig Morgan and Republic of Ireland midfielder Paul Green returned to the fray after shrugging off knocks.
Evans also revamped his attacking options with new signings Luciano Becchio and Jonson Clarke-Harris thrusted immediately into action following their deadline day moves at the expense of Revell and Matt Derbyshire, who had to settle for places on the substitutes bench.
The home side had the first sight of goal when Yann Kermorgant’s incisive pass saw Callum Wilson curve his run to evade the offside trap but although the ex-Coventry forward advanced menacingly towards the visitors’ box, his cross whistled across the box harmlessly.
In their first foray of note, the visitors had faint appeals for a spot-kick when Becchio appeared to be flattened in the box as he looked to latch onto Arnason’s long-throw but referee Graham Horwood waved away the protests.
Minutes later, slick passing from the hosts won a corner which paved the way for a planned set-piece routine which saw Harry Arter drill the ball to the edge of the box giving Kermongant a sight of goal whereby he struck a goalbound effort but any goal would have been chalked off as a visitors charger was illegally blocked off at the near post as he looked to close down the home midfielder.
Just shy of the half hour, Richie Smallwood’s misplaced pass saw the Millers backtrack nervously before Simon Francis floated a centre which was just too high for the on-rushing Kermongant, who could not control his header as it ballooned over the bar.
The game was temporarily brought to a halt as Joe Skarz and Matt Ritchie clashed heads, which resulted in a lengthy stoppage before Rotherham had their best chance of the half.
After Clarke-Harris was felled, Paul Taylor delivered a tantalising free-kick which was met by the head of Morgan, who planted the ball into the danger area and the ball fell invitingly for Arnason, who fluffed his lines when he wastefully blazed the ball over the bar.
With half-time approaching, Taylor tried his luck from distance but his ambitious effort flew harmlessly wide of the target before Adam Collin was forced to punch Ritchie’s free-kick to safety in the final seconds of the half after Francis was brought down by Skarz.
Half-time:- Bournemouth 0 Rotherham United 0
Following the interval, the Millers had a lucky escape when Marc Pugh tormented Richardson on the left flank before delivering a centre which was aimed at Kermorgant, who appeared to be hauled down by Skarz but the referee refused to point to the spot.
The home side were quick out of the blocks in the second half and Wilson twice came within a whisker of making the breakthrough.
Firstly, Kermorgant won a tussle with a retreating Rotherham defender near the byline before playing a slide-rule pass across the face of goal and Wilson looked a certain scorer but despite being just yards out, he failed to bundle the ball home as a combination of Collin and Skarz kept the ball out.
Moments later, a defence splitting pass saw Wilson show Arnason a clean pair of heels as he raced towards goal and as Collin looked to narrow his angle, he struck a rasping effort which smashed against the post before the ball rolled to safety, to the relief of the visitors.
In a rare attack by the Millers, Taylor had a snap shot blocked before Revell rose highest from Pringle’s tantalising centre but his towering header cleared the crossbar.
However, the home side were rewarded for their strong start to the second half by breaking the deadlock just shy of the hour mark.
Following a period of pressure, Arter and Ritchie cleverly exchanged passes to create the space for the latter to clip an inviting cross to the far stick which saw Cook climb highest to plant a header which found the visitors’ net via the post.
The Millers heads were in a spin and Skarz became the first to see yellow for a foul on Kermorgant before the lively Ritchie stung the palms of Collin with a left-footed strike from just outside the box.
The visitors had a few shaky moments in defence before sub Derbyshire fired an opportunistic effort from distance which blazed over the bar.
At the other end, Ritchie had Skarz in a daze as he waltzed in the box but the Rotherham defender stuck to his guns to block his drilled effort.
With time running out, the Millers came within a whisker of claiming a share of the spoils when Derbyshire’s clever run into the channel paved the way for a dangerous centre which narrowly evaded the outstretched leg of Revell, who would have been a certain scorer if he had made a connection.
Minutes later, the home side failed to clear decisively and Arnason struck a curling effort which fizzed narrowly wide of Lee Camp’s goal.
In the dying minutes, Ryan Fraser was yellow-carded for simulation before Smallwood joined him in the book for a cynical trip on Fraser before Rotherham snatched a point deep in stoppage time.
Following a period of pressure from the visitors, Taylor swung an outswinging centre which saw Bowery get a jump on his marker to power a header which Camp got a hand to but the ball squirmed over the line.
Full-time:- Bournemouth 1 Rotherham United 1
Teams:- Bournemouth:- Camp, Elphick, Cook, Francis, Wilson, Ritchie (Surman 90) , Kermorgant (Pitman 70), Arter, O’Kane, Daniels, Pugh (Fraser 83). Unused:- Flahavan, Harte, Stanislas, Smith.
Rotherham:-Collin, Skarz, Arnason, Green, Richardson, Pringle (Derbyshire 65), Morgan, Becchio (Revell 50), Taylor, Clarke-Harris (Bowery 55), Smallwood. Unused:- Loach, Broadfoot, Frecklington, Wordsworth.
Referee:- Graham Horwood
Attendance:- 8480 (492)