ROTHERHAM UNITED made it back-to-back home victories as they put high-flying Ipswich Town to the sword thanks to goals either side of the interval by Matt Derbyshire and Conor Sammon.
In an uneventful first period, Derbyshire scored his second goal in three games to put Steve Evans’ men in charge at the interval and after weathering an early second half storm by the visitors, Sammon eased home nerves when he doubled their lead on 64 minutes.
Following encouraging results against Bolton and Charlton respectively, Evans kept faith with his starting line-up for the third game running as Valley goal hero Danny Ward had to be content with a substitutes’ berth.
The visitors were quick out of the blocks and they almost stunned the home faithful by grabbing the breakthrough in the early seconds.
Town skipper Luke Chambers launched a hopeful punt upfield but Daryl Murphy made something out of nothing as he got the better of Craig Morgan to bare down on goal but his shot from just inside the box was straight at ‘keeper Adam Collin, who fortunately smothered the ball en-route to goal.
Minutes later, Kevin Bru screwed a snap shot harmlessly wide of the target before Murphy blasted over from a promising position after the home defence failed to deal decisively with Jay Tabb’s corner.
Just after the quarter hour, Cole Skuse became the first to see yellow for cynically hauling down Paul Green in full flow and the home side almost made them pay from the resultant free-kick when Kari Arnason rose highest from Ben Pringle’s centre but Bartosz Bialkowski was on his toes to snuff out the danger with a comfortable catch.
Moments later, David McGoldrick jinked his way into a shooting position to fire a low effort through a ruck of bodies which Collin gathered at the second attempt before the home ‘keeper was called into action in the next visitors’ attack as Skuse’s bobbling effort from distance was straight down his throat.
Just past the half hour, Richie Smallwood’s delicate chip over the Ipswich rearguard saw Derbyshire beat the offside trap but he agonisingly failed to get the ball under his spell as it ran through to Biakowski before Tabb’s opportunistic volley from an acute angle failed to trouble Collin as it fizzed harmlessly wide of the upright.
With neither side on top, the Millers took the game by the scruff of the neck as they broke the deadlock seven minutes before the interval.
Following a free-kick award, Pringle swung a tantalising centre into the visitors’ box and skipper Morgan rose highest to plant a downward header across the face of goal and Derbyshire, despite looking in an offside position, swooped to power a header which beat the attentions of Bialkowski to squirm into the heart of the net.
With half-time approaching, Chambers flashed a header wide of the target following good work by Tabb.
Half-time:- Rotherham United 1 Ipswich Town 0
The Millers started the second half as they finished the first as Derbyshire bizarrely failed to see the run of Pringle, who would have been through on goal, before Newton showed fleet of foot before firing a rasping effort which whistled past the upright.
Moments later, Zeki Fryers dwelt in possession on the edge of his own box and he compounded his mistake by lunging at Bru to earn a yellow card in the process.
From the resultant free-kick, Skuse clipped an inviting centre which saw Chambers nip infront of his marker to loop a header which brought the best out of Collin as he superbly tipped the ball over the bar.
Just before the hour mark, the lively Derbyshire almost saw a sight of goal as he attempted to latch onto Pringle’s centre before Tyrone Mings’ wild shot fortunately fell into the path of sub Freddie Sears, who got the ball from under his feet, to fire a low effort which Collin somehow managed to turn around the post.
The visitors were turning up the heat and Sears’ tantalising corner saw Murphy rise above a ruck of bodies to plant a header which was arrowing towards goal but Fryers turned from villain to hero as he was well-stationed to clear from ball from his own goalline with a timely header.
The clearance proved crucial moments later as Rotherham doubled their advantage with twenty-six minutes remaining.
Following consecutive corners, Pringle swung a deep outswinger which caused havoc in the visitors’ box and with appeals for a spot-kick as bodies tumbled in the six-yard box, Newton pounced on the loose ball to plant the ball towards goal and Sammon showed great awareness to control smartly before firing a low effort which went under the body of Bialkowski to nestle in the heart of the visitors’ goal.
The Millers had a stroke of luck when Skuse’s innocuous centre saw Arnason make a hash of his clearance but Murphy fluffed his lines with a tame effort from just inside the six-yard box which went into the grateful hands of Collin.
At the other end, the home side launched a lightning counter-attack which saw Sammon give Pringle the opportunity to clip a delightful centre which was perfectly arrowed into the run of Green, whose snap volley was blocked by a retreating defender before Pringle blazed a shot over the bar in the next attack following some fine-one touch football from the home side.
With time running out for the visitors, Arnason showed great awareness to snuff out the threat of Sears, as he looked to shoot goalwards before the Millers missed a gilt-edged chance to make in three in stoppage time when Smallwood’s clearance fell invitingly into the run of sub Jordan Bowery, who left the visitors’ rearguard in his wake, but Bialkowski managed to get a hand on his goalbound effort and the ball looped narrowly over the bar.
Full-time:- Rotherham United 2 Ipswich Town 0
Teams:- Rotherham- Collin, Arnason, Green, Richardson, Newton (Hammill 89), Pringle, Morgan, Sammon (Ward 75), Derbyshire (Bowery 85), Fryers, Smallwood. Unused:- Thompson, Broadfoot, Frecklington, Milsom.
Ipswich- Bialkowski, Mings, Chambers, Smith, Berra, Skuse, Murphy, McGoldrick (N Hunt 75), Anderson (Bishop 52), Bru, Tabb (Sears 52). Unused:- Kenny, Parr, S Hunt, Clarke.
Referee:- Gavin Ward
Attendance:- 10336 (1879).