ROTHERHAM UNITED launched a superb late fightback to earn a share of the spoils against Huddersfield Town in an enthralling White Rose derby.
Ex-Everton striker James Vaughan put Chris Powell’s men in charge at the interval with a tap-in before Conor Coady doubled their lead just past the hour mark.
Despite time running out, substitute Jonson Clarke-Harris gave the home side a lifeline in the dying minutes before fellow sub Lee Frecklington sent the AESSEAL New York Stadium into raptures with a superb late strike to ensure it was honours even in the Yorkshire derby.
Following their hard-fought victory over Wigan Athletic last weekend, Millers’ chief Steve Evans retained faith with his starting line-up for the fourth successive game.
The only change to the home squad following the trip over the Pennines was the return of former Terrier Joe Skarz to the bench at the expense of Ipswich loanee Paul Taylor.
The hosts had the first sight of goal when Alex Revell and Tom Lawrence combined smartly to give Emmanuel Ledesma the opportunity to flight a delicate cross which narrowly evaded the attentions of Revell, who had ghosted behind the visitors’ rearguard.
The Middlesbrough winger was also at the heart of Rotherham’s next attack when Kari Arnason’s sweeping diagonal ball had the Terriers on the backfoot paving the way for Ledesma to unleash a rising effort which blazed over the visitors’ bar.
However in their first foray of note, the visitors missed a gilt-edged chance to open the scoring when Ben Pringle’s error saw Sean Scannell pounce on the loose ball to advance with menace before playing a clever pass which bisected the home defence but Grant Holt fluffed his lines with the goal at his mercy when his cross-cum-shot failed to trouble the home goal.
Moments later, Harry Bunn’s first time cross saw Vaughan nip infront of his marker at the near post to drill a low effort which fortunately for the Millers’ was straight down the throat of ‘keeper Adam Collin.
Murray Wallace became the first to incur the wrath of the referee when he cynically upended Lawrence to earn a yellow card before Lawrence almost latched onto Pringle’s delicate chip over the Huddersfield rearguard but Alex Smithies was on his toes to snuff out the danger.
Just shy of the half hour mark, Lawrence showed fleet of foot to work a shooting position whereby he stung the palms of Smithies at his near post with a fierce effort before the Leicester loanee was at the forefront of a lighting home counter-attack which was brought to an abrupt end by visitors’ skipper Mark Hudson, which earned him a caution in the process.
From the resultant free-kick, Lawrence almost made the visitors’ pay with a well-struck effort with his instep which forced Smithies into a smart save before his opposite number, Collin was forced into a full-length save at the other end following Bunn’s daisycutter.
However, Huddersfield stunned the home faithful when they broke the deadlock ten minutes before the break.
There looked little danger until a perfectly weighted pass saw Scannell get on the wrong side of Reece James on the right flank and the lively winger played a tantalising cross across the face of goal which took Collin and the retreating home defenders out of the game and Vaughan had the simple task of tapping home into the unguarded goal.
With half-time approaching, Revell was nudged over by Wallace illegally and from an inviting position, Ledesma curled a free-kick narrowly over the bar.
Half-time:- Rotherham United 0 Huddersfield Town 1
Following the restart, the Terriers were quick out of the blocks and Jacob Butterfield’s clipped ball was flicked on by Vaughan into the path of Holt, who nipped infront of Collin but although his effort shaved the upright, any goal would have been chalked off for offside.
At the other end, Ledesma curled a delightful free-kick which found the head of Craig Morgan, who latched onto the cross through a ruck of bodies, but his downward header whistled past the upright with Smithies a helpless bystander.
The Millers were looking to drag themselves back into the affair and good work from Scott Wootton saw Richie Smallwood advance down the right flank and his clever pullback was inviting for the onrushing James, who drilled a low effort which was arrowing towards goal until a retreating defender put in a timely block to snuff out the danger.
Just before the hour mark, Wallace rose highest from Butterfield’s corner but his glancing header fizzed wide before a superb counter-attack by the West Yorkshiremen ended when Morgan deflected Bunn’s centre into the side netting with Collin initially wrongfooted.
However, the Millers failed to heed the warning as Huddersfield doubled their advantage moments later.
Following prompts from the visitors, Ledesma’s attempted tackle put the home defence under pressure and after the Millers failed to clear decisively, sub Oscar Gobern curled a delightful centre into the danger area and ex-Blade Coady ghosted away from the attentions of his marker to power a header into the roof of the net giving Collin no chance.
The visitors were sniffing blood and Wallace’s looping header from Butterfield’s corner forced Collin to tip over the bar before Lawrence was robbed in possession by Jack Robinson and with the Millers short of numbers, Butterfield blazed over the bar from the edge of the box when he should have done better.
Moments later, sub Frecklington was hounded in midfield and ex-Bradford striker Nahki Wells pounced to launch a quick visitors’ breakaway but they squandered a promising opportunity when Bunn fired straight at Collin from an acute angle.
Despite the Millers looking dead and buried, they gave themselves a glimmer of hope when Paul Green weighed up his options before curling an inviting centre which saw sub Clarke-Harris get on the wrong side of his marker to power a header which flashed past Smithies into the heart of the visitors’ goal.
The Millers were sensing a fightback was on the cards and they turned the game on it’s head when a hopeful punt upfield was only half-cleared by the Terriers rearguard and the ball fell invitingly into the path of Frecklington, who struck a fierce effort which arrowed through a ruck of bodies and the ball beat the outstretched dive of Smithies to find the bottom corner of the goal.
With six-minutes of injury-time declared, Smallwood saw yellow for a cynical hack at Wells as he looked to counter quickly before the referee brought the feisty Yorkshire derby to a close as Rotherham prevented the Terriers earning their sixth straight victory over the Millers in the most dramatic of circumstances.
Full-time:- Rotherham United 2 Huddersfield Town 2
Teams:- Rotherham- Collin, Arnason, Revell (Clarke-Harris 79), Green, Pringle (Bowery 59), Morgan, Wootton, James, Ledesma (Frecklington 74), Smallwood, Lawrence. Unused:- Thompson, Skarz, Newton, Derbyshire.
Huddersfield- Smithies, Hudson, Scannell, Butterfield (Gerrard 90), Vaughan (Wells 77), Coady, Wallace, Holt (Gobern 54), Robinson, Smith, Bunn. Unused:- Allinson, Hammill, Lolley, Peltier.
Referee:- M Haywood
Attendance:- 11681 (2609).