ROTHERHAM UNITED breathed new life into their Championship campaign as they put Bolton Wanderers to the sword with a fantastic display.
Ben Pringle set the tone of the evening with the opening strike in the early minutes before Republic of Ireland international Conor Sammon doubled their lead soon after.
Paul Green gave the Millers a three goal cushion at the interval before Matt Derbyshire notched his first league goal of the campaign with a well-taken fourth.
The evening was slightly tarnished as Liam Trotter and Matt Mills halved the deficit near the end, but the Millers held on to record their first win of 2015.
Following their home reversal at the hands of Bournemouth last time out, the Millers made three changes to the starting line-up for the visit of Neil Lennon’s men.
Gaffer Steve Evans reshuffled his midfield pack as Conor Newton was granted his first Millers start at the expense of Danny Ward, who had to settle for a substitutes’ berth while Ben Pringle returned to the starting line-up as Adam Hammill made way.
Ex-Olympiakos striker Derbyshire was entrusted with partnering Derby loanee Sammon upfront as Leicester teenager Jack Barmby was named on the bench.
For the Trotters, former Millers star Adam Le Fondre was unavailable to face his former club as he failed to receive clearance for the AESSEAL New York Stadium clash despite putting pen-to-paper with the Lancastrians earlier in the week.
The home side were quick out of the blocks and they stunned the visitors’ by breaking the deadlock with their first foray of note.
‘Keeper Adam Collin launched a long ball upfield into the path of Sammon, who shrugged off the attentions of his marker to release Newton on the right flank and the ex-Newcastle midfielder showed great composure to float a delicate cross to the far stick which saw Pringle ghost in unnoticed to strike a sweet volley which hit the roof of the Wanderers’ net despite the efforts of visiting stopper Andy Lonergan.
The Millers were buoyed by the breakthrough and skipper Craig Morgan hoicked an effort which Lonergan had to tip over the bar after the visitors’ failed to clear decisively before Pringle floated an inswinging corner in the next phase of play which was cleared into the path of Green, who struck a dipping left-footed effort from the edge of the box which had Lonergan nervously scurrying across goal as it fizzed narrowly wide of the upright.
Minutes later, Green had a snap shot blocked by a retreating defender before Derbyshire latched onto Sammon’s clever lay-off to fizz a fierce effort from distance which had Lonergan flying across goal as it whistled just wide of the target.
The Millers were looking the most likely and they were rewarded for their pressure when they doubled their advantage on 23 minutes.
There looked little danger when Newton pounced on possession on halfway but his stubbed pass had the Wanderers’ backline hesitating and Derbyshire took advantage to advance menacingly towards the edge of the box before drilling a low effort which was arrowing into the bottom corner until Lonergan’s intervention but the Wanderers’ keeper could only parry the ball into the path of the on-rushing Sammon, who had the simple task of tapping into the unguarded net.
Just before the half-hour mark, Pringle became the first to see yellow for a mistimed sliding challenge on Josh Vela before Neil Danns had the Wanderers’ first effort of note when he blazed an ambitious effort from distance over the bar.
Moments later, Newton had a glancing header blocked following fine one-touch interplay involving Pringle and Sammon before ex-Chelsea and Barcelona star Eidur Gudjohnsen fluffed his lines when he sliced an effort wide with the goal gaping following good work by Tim Ream.
Frazer Richardson then had to be on his toes to snuff out Andy Kellett as he broke free on goal before the Millers had a stroke of luck when a strong appeal for a spot kick as Vela tumbled under the challenge of Zeki Fryers was waved away by referee Darren Drysdale before Darren Pratley drilled an effort which was blocked by a well-stationed home defender.
With the visitors heads’ still in a daze, the Millers’ turned defence into attack with the blink of an eye as Fryers led the cavalry charge and with play switched to Derbyshire on the right flank, the ex-Forest striker fizzed a pinpoint centre to the front post which saw Green glance a superb header which found the Wanderers goal via the upright.
Half-time:- Rotherham United 3 Bolton Wanderers 0
Following the restart, the Millers’ continued in the same vein and fine interplay involving Richardson and Newton saw the latter execute a superb piece of skill which left Ream red-faced before he delivered a tantalising cross which narrowly evaded the attentions of Derbyshire and Green with the goal at their mercy but any goal would have been chalked off for offside.
Minutes later, Newton robbed Ream of possession to launch a home counter attack and Sammon spotted the run of Derbyshire, who controlled smartly to work a yard of space on Mills, before firing a rasping effort which brought the best out of Lonergan with an acrobatic save.
However, Derbyshire was not to be denied and he effectively put the game to bed with a fourth goal just before the hour mark which raised the AESSEAL New York Stadium roof.
There looked little threat until a threaded ball found Derbyshire, who strode menacingly towards the visitors’ goal and with the Wanderers’ defence backing off, he showed the Millers’ fans an illustration of his striking prowess when he fired a left-footed effort which arrowed into the top corner of the goal giving Lonergan no chance.
The home side were sniffing blood and Sammon had a looping header tipped off the bar by Lonergan before Newton fired a fierce free-kick which hammered against the Wanderers’ wall after the lively Derbyshire was tripped by Mills.
In a rare foray by the visitors, Liam Feeney was denied a consolation as his point-blank effort was bravely blocked by Morgan on his own goalline after Collin had spilled a header across the goal.
However, the Lancastrians did manage to add an element of respectability to the scoreline in the latter stages when a long punt upfield was flicked on by Mills and with no-one in the home defence taking charge, sub Trotter pounced to calmly slid the ball past the advancing Collin.
The visitors were lifted by the goal and home nerves were enhanced two minutes later when Bolton reduced the arrears further as the Millers again failed to clear decisively and as Morgan vainly attempted to hack the ball away from goal, Mills nipped in smartly to power a header home from point-blank range despite the efforts of Collin.
Despite the late wobble, the Millers regained their composure to see out the remainder of the proceedings with little alarm and bring huge acclaim from the home faithful as they left the pitch.
Full-time:- Rotherham United 4 Bolton Wanderers 2
Teams:- Rotherham- Collin, Arnason, Green, Richardson, Newton, Pringle (Hammill 90), Morgan, Sammon (Wood 90), Derbyshire (Bowery 84), Fryers, Smallwood. Unused:- Thompson, Brindley, Ward, Barmby.
Bolton- Lonergan, Mills, Ream, Feeney, Dervite, Danns, Pratley, Gudjohnsen (Spearing 74), Vela, Wilkinson (Wheater 66), Kellett (Trotter 52). Unused:- Bogden, Moxey, Odelusi, Walker.
Referee:- Darren Drysdale
Attendance:- 8780 (874).