ROTHERHAM UNITED exited the FA Cup at the first hurdle as high-flying Bournemouth maintained their impressive run of late with a convincing victory at the AESSEAL New York Stadium.
Despite Richard Brindley giving the Millers the lead, Shaun MacDonald gave the tie parity on the stroke of half time.
The third round tie looked to be in the balance until just before the hour mark, but Junior Stanislas’ strike was the prelude to a second-half blitz by the Cherries, who took the clash by the scruff of the net to extend their unbeaten record to 15 games.
Following the hectic Christmas schedule, Millers chief Steve Evans was forced to ring the changes for their FA Cup tie as a number of his loan stars went back or were refused permission to play by their parent club.
Full-back Brindley was recalled to the Millers’ fold following a productive loan spell with Scunthorpe as Leeds loanee Scott Wootton was not available for selection.
Republic of Ireland international Paul Green returned to the Millers’ engine room at the expense of Tom Lawrence, who was recalled by Leicester City, while Ben Pringle was asked to provide the ammunition for strike pairing Jordan Bowery and Jonson Clarke-Harris as Bloomfield Road hero Emmanuel Ledesma returned to the North-East after his loan spell came to an end.
The Millers were quick out of the blocks and Brindley was in the thick of the action early on when his incisive ball saw Clarke-Harris advance menacingly into the box but his progress was brought to an abrupt end by Cherries’ skipper Steve Cook, who produced a superb sliding challenge.
At the other end, Stanislas embarked on a mazy run which had the Millers backtracking nervously before MacDonald’s cross was snuffed out at the front post.
The Millers had a stroke of luck moments later when Brindley was penalised for nudging over Ryan Fraser on the edge of the box and from the resultant free-kick, Ian Harte struck a fantastic free-kick which sailed over the defensive wall and with Adam Collin flying across goal, the ball struck the underside of the crossbar before bouncing in and around the goalline, but despite appeals from the visitors’ that the ball had crossed the line, the play continued as the home side cleared the danger.
The moment proved pivotal moments later as the Millers broke the deadlock on ten minutes.
Following promptings in and around the visitors’ box, a switch of play gave Brindley an opportunity to advance with purpose to the edge of the box before he drilled a low effort which took a slight deflection which saw the ball arch away from the outstretched hand of Lee Camp as it found the bottom corner of the net.
The home side were buoyed by the breakthrough and in their next attack, Bowery won an aerial challenge with Camp to bundle the ball into the net from point-blank range but any joy was tempered by the inevitable free-kick award as he was adjudged to have climbed illegally.
Moments later, Pringle’s outswinging free-kick saw skipper Craig Morgan rise highest but he was unable to generate power into the header as it flew harmlessly wide of the target before Clarke-Harris dragged an ambitious effort wide in the Millers’ next foray of note.
Just shy of the half-hour mark, the home side had a big let off when Icelandic international Kari Arnason was left exposed by some lazy play on halfway from the Millers and after MacDonald won their tussle with a well-timed tackle, he got up to play a finely weighted throughball which saw Stanislas beat the offside trap to race on goal but despite only having Collin to beat, the ex-West Ham winger fluffed his lines with a screwed effort which missed the target.
Moments later, Pringle became the first to see yellow for tugging the shirt of an opponent in full flow before Adam Smith cut inside to drill a low effort from distance which failed to trouble Collin in the next phase of play.
Minutes later, Bowery started and finished a move when following a superb sliding challenge on Eunan O’Kane to prompt a Millers’ counter, the ex-Villa forward exchanged passes with Lee Frecklington before firing a snap effort from an acute angle which smashed into the side netting.
With half-time approaching, the Cherries turned the tie on its head by firing an equaliser.
Following probing by Eddie Howe’s men, Green failed to clear the danger when his errant pass to Frecklington left the home side penned into their own half and the visitors’ exchanged some fluent passing which paved the way for Yann Kermorgant, to play a slide-rule pass which was taken in his stride superbly by MacDonald, who left the home rearguard in his wake before he calmly stroked the ball past the advancing Collin as the ball nestled in the heart of the home goal.
Half-time:- Rotherham United 1 Bournemouth 1
Following the restart, fine interplay involving Brindley and Frecklington paved the way for the latter to play a threaded ball which almost saw Clarke-Harris race clear but Camp was alert to snuff out the danger.
At the other end, Bournemouth successfully switched play and Smith cut inside with menace and after working a yard on Pringle, he struck a fierce effort which seemed to swerve in the air but Collin produced a superb one-handed save to keep the scores level.
However, Rotherham did not heed the warning as the Cherries took a strangehold on tie by grabbing the lead just shy of the hour mark.
There looked little danger until Dan Gosling ran strongly from the heart of midfield and with the home rearguard playing a high line, a timely pass from the ex-Everton midfielder saw Stanislas successfully beat the offside trap and this time he kept his nerve to round Collin before playing the ball into the unguarded net.
Evans looked to breathe life into the Millers’ chances when he produced a double substitution but Bournemouth effectively killed off the tie moments later with Kermorgant the architect with a clever run and pass which again caught the Millers’ square and Fraser got on the wrong side of his marker before keeping his nerve to win the battle of wills with Collin to calmly stroke the ball into the bottom corner of the net.
Kermorgant was the Millers’ tormentor-in-chief and following a dipping effort which sailed narrowly wide of the target, he added a fourth to add to the home side’s woes.
Following a switch of play to the right flank, Stanislas played a first-time cross which was played behind the home rearguard and the French striker managed to control the ball despite being off-balance, but with Collin wrong-footed, he calmly tapped the ball into the empty net.
The afternoon went from bad to worse for the Millers, when following a free-kick award which saw Frecklington booked for a heavy challenge on Fraser, Harte swung a tantalising centre which saw Cook rise highest to plant a header which was saved superbly by Collin at point-blank range, but to his anguish, the ball fell invitingly for Kermorgant, who had the simple task of tapping home from just yards out.
Home frustration was summed up when Reece James was cautioned for a lunge at Smith before the Manchester United loanee squandered a gilt-edged opportunity to notch a late consolation when he blazed over the bar with the goal gaping after the visitors’ failed to clear decisively.
The Millers were battling vainly to the end and sub Matt Derbyshire wasted two opportunities to give the score a more flattering look when he blasted over with the goal at his mercy following Brindley’s incisive cross, before dragging an effort wide with the last kick of the match after being played in by Bowery.
Full-time:- Rotherham United 1 Bournemouth 5
Teams:- Rotherham- Collin, Brindley, Arnason, Frecklington, Bowery, Green, Pringle (Skarz 63), Morgan, Clarke-Harris (Derbyshire 63), James, Smallwood. Unused:- Loach, Wood, Richardson, Newton, Yates.
Bournemouth- Camp, Cook, Gosling, Harte, Smith, MacDonald (Pitman 82), Kermorgant, Stanislas (Cornick 71), Fraser (Ritchie 89), O’Kane. Cargill. Unused:- Flahavan, Francis, Surman, Wilson.
Referee:- Neil Swarbrick
Attendance:- 5875 (556).