TABLE-TOPPERS Bournemouth grabbed their second victory in as many weeks at the AESSEAL New York Stadium as goals either side of the interval left the Millers empty-handed.
Despite an impressive first-half showing from the home side, Cherries skipper Tommy Elphick led from the front to give his side the advantage at the interval before Callum Wilson doubled their lead just after the hour mark.
Following their narrow defeat at the hands of Brentford last week, the Millers made three changes to their starting line-up for the visit of Eddie Howe’s men, who had secured a 5-1 FA Cup victory in South Yorkshire a fortnight earlier.
Wickersley-born Frazer Richardson was returned to the starting eleven after Leeds loanee Scott Wootton was recalled by his parent club.
New loan signings Zeki Fryers and Republic of Ireland international Conor Sammon were handed their Rotherham bows at the expense of Reece James and Matt Derbyshire, who had to settle for a substitutes’ berth while the home faithful were given their first glimpses of Jack Barmby, Adam Hammill and Danny Ward, who made his move to the Millers’ permanent this week, after the trio made their debuts last week in the capital.
The visitors had the first sight of goal when Richardson’s trip on Marc Pugh paved the way for Brett Pitman to deceive the home rearguard with a training ground set-piece, but Matt Ritchie fluffed his lines with a stubbed effort which was blocked by a retreating defender.
At the other end, Barmby blasted over before the home side had their hearts’ in their mouths when from the resultant phase of play, Lee Camp’s long punt upfield was flicked on by Pitman into the path of Callum Wilson, who seemingly got on the wrong side of Fryers, before tangling with the Palace loanee which saw him lose his footing, and as Wilson calmly stroked the ball into the corner of the net, his joy was tempered by the referee’s whistle, who chalked the goal off.
Moments later, Wilson got on the wrong side of the Rotherham rearguard and despite the home defence being at sixes and sevens, Harry Arter’s goalbound shot was bravely blocked by a ruck of home bodies.
Just before the quarter hour, Barmby showed fleet of foot to leave Simon Francis in his wake before delivering a flighted cross which saw Paul Green get a run on Steve Cook, but the home midfielder failed to control his header as it blazed over the bar.
In the next phase of play, Richie Smallwood’s threaded ball saw Barmby advance with menace into the visitors’ box but he was crowded out as he looked to strike goalwards before fine interplay between Barmby and Hammill presented Sammon with an opportunity to stab an effort which was deflected into the arms of Camp.
Just past the half-hour mark, the visitors came within a whisker of the breakthrough when firstly superb one-touch passing between Arter and Ritchie left the Millers in the daze as the winger cut inside to fire a skimming drive which whistled narrowly wide before Wilson’s approach play saw Ritchie turn provider as he floated a delicate cross, which saw Pugh ghost in unmarked at the far stick but his planted header evaded the upright with Adam Collin a helpless bystander.
The visitors had visibly stepped on the gas and a lightning counter-attack left the Millers short-handed as Pugh cut inside to play a tantalising slide-rule pass into the path of Wilson, who ominously took aim at goal, but Collin showed great reflexes to parry his goalbound effort to safety.
The Millers finally managed to turn the tide when they turned defence into attack in the blink of an eye as Hammill waltzed towards the edge of the box before firing a skimming drive which kissed the surface forcing Camp into taking evasive action before Sammon was crowded out as he looked to take advantage of the rebound.
Moments later, Andrew Surman became the first to see yellow for a lunge at Barmby as he looked to break clear before the Leicester loanee almost made them pay into the next phase of play when a driving run from the heart of midfield saw him fire a fierce effort which had Camp nervously scurrying across goal as it fizzed narrowly of the target.
With half-time approaching, Bournemouth struck a decisive blow in the second minute of injury time when they opened the scoring after Smallwood was harshly adjudged to have committed a foul just inside his own half.
From the resultant free-kick, Charlie Daniels swung a tantalising centre into the danger area which saw Tommy Elphick tower above his marker to plant a downward header which hit the inside of the post before finding the home net.
Half-time:- Rotherham United 0 Bournemouth 1
The visitors started the second half as they finished the first as they had a wonderful opportunity to double their advantage when Pitman robbed Fryers in possession before playing an inviting ball into the path of Wilson, who bared down on goal before tumbling under the challenge of Collin as he looked to round him, but the referee waved away vociferous appeals for a spot-kick.
Millers’ chief Steve Evans looked to breathe life into the home display with a double substitution and it almost paid dividends when Conor Newton showed clever footwork to start a move which saw Richardson work a yard of space to float a cross near the byline and Newton almost crowned his initial work but he failed to make a clear connection with his attempted volley from the edge of the box.
Just before the hour mark, Kari Arnason became the next to incur the wrath of the referee as he was cautioned following a tangle with Wilson before Bournemouth doubled their advantage.
There looked little danger when Daniels raced down the left flank to chase a lost cause but he managed to pull the ball back and Pitman attempted to scuff the ball into the net at the near post and although Collin and retreating home defenders were in attendance, the ball popped into the path of Wilson, who calmly tapped the ball into the heart of the home goal from short range.
Home frustration was summed up when firstly Smallwood was yellow-carded for an ankle tap on Arter before Ward blazed an inviting free-kick over as Green had a drilled effort blocked shortly afterwards.
Substitute Rob Milsom became the next to see yellow for a cynical pullback on Wilson as he looked to launch to a quick counter attack before Sammon squandered an opportunity to half the deficit when he rose to meet Ward’s flighted cross but his header failed to trouble the visitors’ goal.
With time running out, Hammill joined his colleagues in the book following a show of petulance after he was penalised for a foul on Ritchie before Newton blazed a snap shot from the edge of the box harmlessly over the bar.
The Millers fought bravely to the end and Hammill’s mazy run saw sub Jordan Bowery flash a cross-cum-shot across the danger area before Green failed to trouble Camp with a toe-poked effort moments later.
Deep in injury-time, sub Yann Kermorgant almost sealed a polished Cherries display with a third with his first touch of the ball but Collin stood up tall to block his stabbed effort following a quick break by the visitors’.
Full-time:- Rotherham United 0 Bournemouth 2
Teams:- Rotherham- Collin, Arnason, Green, Richardson, Morgan, Ward (Bowery 75), Sammon, Hammill, Barmby (Newton 56), Fryers (Milsom 57), Smallwood. Unused:- Thompson, Broadfoot, Pringle, Derbyshire.
Bournemouth- Camp, Francis, Cook, Elphick, Surman, Pugh (Smith 90), Arter, Pitman, Daniels, Wilson (Gosling 79), Ritchie (Kermorgant 90). Unused:- Flahavan, Stanislas, Fraser, O’Kane.
Referee:- S Martin
Attendance:- 9157 (624).