ROTHERHAM UNITED’s Championship survival hopes were given a timely boost as they put White Rose rivals Huddersfield Town to the sword at the John Smith’s Stadium.
Kari Arnason put the Millers in charge at the interval before Conor Sammon doubled their lead just before the hour mark.
Skipper Lee Frecklington saw red with quarter of an hour to go but the Millers showed good resolve to keep the hosts at bay in the latter stages of the game.
Following their home defeat at the hands of Cardiff City in midweek, the Millers made four changes to their starting line-up for the short hop to West Yorkshire.
Steve Evans’ men had a new look backline with loan signings Daniel Lafferty and Farrend Rawson making their Millers debuts after signing from Burnley and Derby respectively, with the latter only putting pen-to-paper earlier in the day.
Icelandic international Arnason was pushed into a midfield berth partnering Frecklington, who was handed the skipper’s armband, as Paul Green was missing because of injury.
Sammon was rewarded for his cameo against the Bluebirds by being given another opportunity to impress in a forward role as former Terrier Danny Ward was ruled out because of injury.
The Millers had the first sight of goal when Arnason’s bullet throw caused havoc in the home defence but Matt Derbyshire was unable to make a clean contact as the ball ran harmlessly to Alex Smithies.
The ex-Olympiakos striker was in the thick of the action as he almost charged down Smithies, who just managed to clear the ball in the nick of time before Jack Hunt’s threaded ball saw Sammon get the better of Joel Lynch in a footrace on the right flank but he was unable to give Derbyshire a shooting opportunity as the ball was hacked clear by a retreating home defender.
Minutes later, the visitors countered with purpose and fine flowing football paved the way for Ben Pringle to float a delicate cross which found Sammon at the far post and the Republic of Ireland international controlled smartly before firing a snap shot which lacked power as Smithies snuffed out the danger with a minimum of fuss.
In their first foray of note, the Terriers came within a whisker of the breakthrough when Jacob Butterfield flighted an inviting centre which saw James Vaughan rise unchallenged and the ex-Everton forward looked to steer the ball into the far corner of the goal but despite Adam Collin being motionless, his header narrowly evaded the upright.
Moments later, Joe Lolley’s mazy run saw Vaughan fire a rasping effort which was bravely blocked by Rawson, who threw his body in the way of the shot before the home side failed to deal with another Arnason exocet throw and a home defender almost in avertedly turned the ball into his own net as the ball whizzed past the post.
From the resultant corner, Pringle floated a tantalising centre which was aimed towards to the bulldozing run of Kirk Broadfoot but Derbyshire took the ball off his head as the ball flew harmlessly wide of the target.
Minutes later, Arnason became the first to see yellow as he was penalised for a hefty shoulder charge on Lolley and the home player dusted himself down to fire the resultant free-kick which stung the palms of Collin, who gathered on his own goalline.
Just past the half-hour, Sammon almost latched onto Pringle’s centre but the ball was scuffed from danger before he could get his point-blank shot away before Broadfoot headed harmlessly wide from Richie Smallwood’s diagonal free-kick in the next phase of play.
Minutes later, Frecklington became the next to incur the wrath of referee Carl Boyeson as he was cautioned for a late clip on Lynch, who required treatment in the aftermath of the incident.
The hosts had Smithies to thank for keeping the scores level just shy of the interval when Pringle’s swinging centre was met by the head of Arnason, who headed into the turf as it skimmed towards goal but the home stopper produced an acrobatic save to keep the ball out.
With half-time approaching, Butterfield became the next to see yellow for a cynical nudge on Arnason and the Millers made them pay with the opener in the next phase of play.
After Pringle’s resultant free-kick was only half cleared, Hunt pounced on the loose ball to leave his marker in his wake before playing a dangerous centre across the face of goal which Arnason seemed to smother at first and at the second attempt, he poked the ball into the heart of the home goal to send the visitors’ faithful into ecstasy.
Half-time:- Huddersfield Town 0 Rotherham United 1
The home side were quick out of the blocks at the start of the second half and Hunt was well-stationed to snuff out the danger following Lolley’s incisive centre before Smallwood’s quick thinking from a free-kick released Lafferty down the left flank, who had time and space to weigh up his options, but Smithies was on his toes to cut out his cross at the other end.
There was a moment of controversy when Lafferty appeared to be fouled near the touchline but the referee failed to award a free-kick and with Millers’ heads in a spin, Vaughan managed to unleash a snap shot which was smartly gathered by Collin at the second attempt.
Just before the hour mark, the Millers took a stranglehold on the clash when they doubled their advantage thanks to Derby loanee Sammon.
There looked little danger until Hunt injected pace into the move to find Arnason, who bundled past the attentions of his marker to give Sammon a glimpse of goal and the Irishman made no mistake as he drilled a superb right-footed effort from just outside the box which beat the outstretched hand of Smithies to find the corner of the net.
The visitors were sniffing blood and Frecklington and Pringle combined smartly to put the Terriers on the backfoot and Sammon was inches away from being put through on goal from the latter’s threaded pass.
However, the Millers’ fans had their hearts in their mouths when a harmless punt saw Lafferty and Collin fail to deal with the danger and Sean Scannell’s almost took advantage as he looked to turn the ball goalwards but his effort lacked power as the ball was cleared by Rawson.
Moments later, sub Radoslaw Majewski almost made an instant impact with a stinging drive from distance which Collin gathered at the second attempt after spilling initially before Broadfoot was rightly booked for cynically hauling down Vaughan as he prevented the home side launching a lightning counter attack.
The hosts were digging deep for a foothold in the clash and Collin was at his acrobatic best to keep out Butterfield’s arrowing free-kick from just outside the box before home hopes were given a shot in the arm after Frecklington saw red after his late clip on Coady and the Millers’ skipper received his second booking to leave the visitors’ short-handed for the final quarter hour.
With time running out for the home side, Majewski jinked his way into a shooting position but he blazed his effort narrowly over the bar as the visitors’ held firm to record a vital victory.
Full-time:- Huddersfield Town 0 Rotherham United 2
Teams:- Huddersfield- Smithies, Hudson, Hogg (Majewski 59), Scannell, Butterfield, Vaughan, Coady, Robinson, Lolley (Miller 58), Smith, Lynch (Wallace 80). Unused:- Murphy, Edgar, Carroll, Gobern.
Rotherham- Collin, Lafferty, Arnason, Broadfoot, Frecklington, Pringle (Milsom 78), Sammon (Richardson 90), Derbyshire (Bowery 82), Hunt, Rawson, Smallwood. Unused:- Thompson, Newton, Fryers, Clarke-Harris
Referee:- Carl Boyeson.