LUCIANO Becchio netted his first goal for the Millers as his second-half header earned Steve Evans’ men a hard-fought point against high-flying Charlton Athletic.
The Millers started the game brightly but they trailed at the interval as one-time Millers target Johann Berg Gudmundsson netted with a well-taken effort from distance.
However, the home side took the game by the scruff of the net in the second-half and they were rewarded for their pressure when Becchio struck with a point-blank header.
Following their heartbreaking defeat at the hands of Bolton Wanderers in midweek, the Millers made three changes to their starting line-up for the visit of the South Londoners.
Ex-England U21 international Scott Loach made his first league start between the sticks for the Millers as Adam Collin dropped to the bench.
Evans also reshuffled his strikeforce as Jordan Bowery was rewarded for his cameo goalscoring appearances at Bournemouth and Bolton by earning his first Millers’ league start partnering Wembley hero Alex Revell, who was recalled to the starting line-up.
The Millers made a lightning start and they had the first sight of goal after Richie Smallwood fought hard to win possession on halfway paving the way for Paul Taylor to strike a fierce effort which blazed over the bar.
Minutes later, Bowery was crowded out in the box on two occasions before a long punt forward by Loach was not dealt with decisively by the Charlton rearguard and Taylor pounced on the indecision to jink past the attentions of his marker to give Revell a shooting opportunity on the edge of the box whereby the ex-Orient striker turned smartly to strike a low drive which stung the palms of Stephen Henderson.
In the Londoners’ first forays of note, Jordan Cousins struck an effort from distance which narrowly cleared the crossbar before Johnnie Jackson tried his luck with a speculative effort from long range minutes later which also failed to trouble Loach.
On the quarter hour, Taylor squandered a shooting position on the edge of the box when he dallied in possession before the home side had their hearts’ in their mouths when Kari Arnason’s misplaced pass saw Athletic advance menacingly whereby the Icelandic international looked to atone for his error with a lunge on Franck Moussa, who tumbled to the turf, but referee Darren Deadman booked the visitors’ frontman for simulation.
At the other end, the home side came within a whisker of the breakthrough when firstly ex-Addick Frazer Richardson curled a delightful cross to the far post which saw Joe Skarz ghost in unnoticed to plant a header across goal which fizzed narrowly wide of the upright before Taylor drilled a low effort which forced Andre Bikey into a smart clearance as Bowery was lurking to tap home into the next phase of play.
Just before the half-hour mark, Paul Green tussled with Rhoys Wiggins just inside the box but to the astonishment of the NYS faithful, referee Deadman awarded the free-kick to the visitors before Athletic broke the deadlock in their next attack.
There looked little danger when Gudmundsson gained possession on the right flank but he picked up the pace of the move to advance menacingly towards the home box and with the Rotherham rearguard guilty of backing off, he unleashed a fantastic left-footed effort which beat the outstretched hand of Loach before arrowing into the far corner of the goal.
The Millers responded bravely to the setback and Arnason’s well-flighted cross saw Revell ghost away from his marker to plant a downward header which had Henderson at full stretch before Anthony Wordsworth had a snap shot blocked by a retreating visitors’ defender moments later.
The home side’s hopes were a dealt a blow when Revell was forced to be replaced after he failed to shrug off a knock before they had ‘keeper Loach to thank for keeping them in the game on stroke of half-time.
After the home side failed to clear decisively, Moussa fired a rasping drive which was smartly parried by the ex-Watford ‘keeper before Israeli Tal Ben Haim waltzed through the home rearguard before steering an effort which was goalbound until Loach’s late intervention.
The home side were looking for the half-time whistle as Wiggins fizzed a stinging effort which flew narrowly over the bar before Jackson blasted a volley over from the edge of the box when he should have done better.
Half-time:- Rotherham United 0 Charlton Athletic 1
As per the first half, the Millers caught the visitors cold and a fast counter by the home side paved the way for sub Lee Frecklington to stab goalwards with his second touch but his effort was straight down the throat of Henderson.
Moments later, sub Becchio’s attempted block tackle ricocheted fortuitously towards the Athletic goal but it fizzed narrowly over before the Argentinian was in the thick of the action from the resultant corner but Henderson was well-stationed to snuff out the danger.
The home side were sniffing blood and a rampaging run by Richardson down the right flank ended with a tantalising cross which saw Bowery climb highest at the far stick to plant the ball back into the danger area but Taylor fluffed his lines by smashing the ball over from point-blank range.
Just past the hour mark, the Millers came within a whisker of grabbing an equaliser when Taylor’s initial corner was only half-cleared back into the path of the Ipswich loanee and his curling cross was flicked-on by Becchio before Bowery poked the ball home at the far post from point-blank range, but his joy soon turned to despair as the assistant referee had raised his flag to curtail home celebrations.
It was a much-improved second-half performance from the Millers and following good work on halfway, Wordsworth’s timely pass presented Frecklington with a shooting opportunity but his rising effort failed to trouble Henderson.
In a rare foray by the visitors, skipper Craig Morgan saw yellow for upending hot-shot Igor Vetokele as he looked to burst clear, which will see the home talisman serve a suspension following his fifth caution of the season.
In the next phase of play, Bikey headed over following Cousins’ inviting corner before Rotherham deservedly got themselves back on level terms with 20 minutes to go.
There looked little danger until Ben Haim dwelt in possession just outside on his own box and Becchio pounced to win possession for the home side.
With the visitors retreating in numbers, the momentum of the move looked lost as the Argentinian’s pass was infront of sub Ben Pringle but he floated a delightful cross which was aimed towards unmarked duo Becchio and Bowery at the far post and it was the Norwich loanee who nipped in front of his teammate and Henderson to steer his header into the heart of the visitors’ goal.
The Millers were visibly lifted by the equaliser but Becchio turned from hero to villain as he was the next cautioned for his protests following a tangle with Wiggins, for which he was harshly penalised.
New York Stadium was whipped into a frenzy and Arnason almost turned the game on it’s head when he leapt highest from Pringle’s inviting corner but Henderson was able to watch the ball his effort fly harmlessly wide of the upright.
With time running out, Athletic came within inches of snatching a smash and grab when Frederic Bulot got the better of Green as they battled for possession before cutting inside from the byline to strike a fierce effort which was only half-stopped by Loach, and the ball squirmed towards goal but the Rotherham stopper recovered just in time to recover the ball before it crossed the whitewash.
Minutes later, Yoni Buyens became the next to incur the wrath of the referee when he was booked retrospectively for a cynical pull of Frecklington as the home side looked to counter quickly before Rotherham almost made the decisive strike with 15 seconds of normal time remaining.
Richardson showed the visitors' defence a clean pair of heels as he raced down the right flank to deliver a deep cross which was met by the unmarked Skarz at the far post, but his powerful goalbound header was superbly kept out by a flying Henderson and a retreating visiting defender.
In stoppage time, Rotherham kept up the pressure and Frecklington scooped an effort which had Henderson backtracking nervously as it hit the top of the net before Skarz again ventured forward as he latched onto another Richardson delivery moments later, but his header cleared the crossbar as the referee brought an entertaining second half to a close.
Full-time:- Rotherham United 1 Charlton Athletic 1
Teams:- Rotherham- Loach, Skarz, Arnason, Revell (Becchio 39), Bowery, Green, Richardson, Morgan, Taylor (Pringle 68), Wordsworth, Smallwood (Frecklington 46). Unused:- Collin, Broadfoot, Derbyshire, Clarke-Harris
Charlton- Henderson, Jackson, Bikey, Gudmundsson (Harriott 80), Moussa (Bulot 60), Vetokele, Wiggins, Buyens, Solly, Cousins (Fox 90), Ben Haim. Unused:- Pope, Wilson, Morrison, Tucudean.
Referee:- Darren Deadman
Attendance:- 9620 (1106).