ROTHERHAM United slipped to their first defeat in three games as Wolverhampton Wanderers edged a tight contest by the odd goal at the AESSEAL New York Stadium.
The Millers fell behind early in the game when James Henry headed home before Joe Newell notched his second goal in three games to level matters.
However, Wolves skipper Danny Batth scored the decisive winner on the stroke of half-time and despite the best efforts of the Millers in the second half, Neil Redfearn’s side were unable to claim a share of the spoils.
Following back-to-back victories over Leeds and Bristol City respectively, the Millers made just one change to his starting line-up as Norwich loanee Harry Toffolo was recalled in the left-back slot as Republic of Ireland international Stephen Kelly was ruled out because of a calf injury sustained against the Robins last weekend.
Toffolo’s return paved the way for Danny Collins to shuffle back into the heart of the Rotherham rearguard alongside Kirk Broadfoot while there was a familiar face in the visitors line-up as hitman Adam Le Fondre made a welcome return to South Yorkshire following his excellent goalscoring exploits with the Millers.
Following a slow opening by both sides, Wanderers stunned the home faithful when they broke the deadlock on five minutes.
There looked little danger for the Millers until Dave Edwards’ threaded pass paved the way for Jordan Graham to deliver a tantalising centre which was inch-perfect for the timely run of Henry, whose stooping header beat the outstretched hand of Lee Camp to find the bottom corner of the net.
The visitors were visibly lifted by the breakthrough and moments later, Graham again combined smartly with Henry but this time, the Wolves wideman fired a tame effort straight down the throat of Camp.
Lewis Buxton had to be on his toes to divert Le Fondre’s inviting centre behind in Wolves’ next attack and the Millers had Camp to thank for preventing them falling two behind from the resultant corner as Henry ghosted in unnoticed to meet Graham’s centre but the ex-Bournemouth ‘keeper pulled off a superb reflex save to prevent the West Midlanders doubling their advantage.
In the Millers’ first foray of note, Toffolo’s pass saw skipper Lee Frecklington execute a deft flick which released Newell, who got on the wrong side of the visitors’ back-four, but a retreating defender was well-stationed to snuff out his cross as Jonson Clarke-Harris was sniffing with menace.
Moments later, Richie Smallwood’s pass presented Newell with the opportunity to float a delicate centre which was met by the onrushing Frecklington but his header cleared the crossbar.
However, Rotherham were not to be denied as they equalised minutes later when Newell’s initial shot was blocked by Dominic Iorfa but with Wolves unable to clear the danger, Toffolo put the ball back into the danger area and with the visitors defence at sixes and sevens, Newell successfully swept the ball into the net via the inside of the post.
Rotherham’s joy almost proved shortlived as Edwards sneaked around the back to fire a snap shot which stung the palms of Camp before the Welsh international fired a cross-cum-shot across the face of goal in Wolves’ next foray forward.
Just before the half hour mark, the Millers came within a whisker of taking the lead when a long free-kick into the box saw Broadfoot rise highest and although his header failed to find a Millers shirt, the ball was only half-cleared into the path of Frecklington, who showed great technique to fire an effort from outside the box which had Carl Ikeme nervously scrambling across goal as it shaved the visitors upright, possibly with the aid of a slight deflection.
Minutes later, Grant Ward showed fleet of foot to work a shooting position as he fired a rasping effort from distance which failed to trouble the Wolves goal before Clarke-Harris showed good defensive instincts at the other end to head Henry’s dangerous centre away from danger.
With half-time approaching, a clever one-two involving Frecklington split open the Wolves defence but Newell’s lung-bursting run was halted in its tracks by visiting skipper Batth on the edge of the box.
However, the visitors regained the lead on the stroke of half-time when Smallwood’s block tackle conceded a corner and Graham swung an outswinging centre to the far post where Rotherham were light of numbers and Batth got the better of an opponent and one of his own players, as he climbed highest to nod into the corner of the net from point-blank range.
Half-time:- Rotherham United 1 Wolverhampton Wanderers 2
Following the interval, Batth was in the thick of the action once again as he got the run on his marker to meet Jack Price’s cross but his header narrowly cleared the crossbar before Henry got the better of Toffolo to float a delicate centre which saw Le Fondre ghost in between two defenders but he could not divert the ball goalwards.
Just before the hour mark, Kevin McDonald’s clipped centre had the Millers defence in a spin and after Camp failed to clear decisively, Toffolo had to hack the ball clear from near his own line.
Ipswich loanee Luke Hyam was introduced into the fray and he almost made an instant impact when his lay-off saw Toffolo and Derbyshire combine to great effect paving the way for the Norwich left-back to pull the ball back into the path of Grant Ward, who fluffed his lines as he blazed his effort into the stand behind the goal.
Moments later, Ward turned architect when he exchanged passes with Hyam before delivering a dipping centre which looked inch-perfect for the run of Clarke-Harris but the inform striker was agonisingly inches away from turning the ball home.
With quarter an hour to go, Ward skipped to the touchline to flash a superb centre which again narrowly evaded the attentions of Clarke-Harris before Hyam’s chip over the top nearly fell kindly for Derbyshire, who would have been through on goal if he managed to put the ball under his spell.
With time running out for the hosts, McDonald saw yellow for a wild tackle before Frecklington curled a long-range effort over the bar from distance in Rotherham’s last effort of note.
Full-time:- Rotherham United 1 Wolverhampton Wanderers 2
Teams:- Rotherham- Camp, Buxton, Collins, Broadfoot, Frecklington, D Ward (Derbyshire 13), G Ward (Barker 77), Clarke-Harris, Newell (Hyam 57), Toffolo, Smallwood. Unused- Collin, Mattock, Richardson, Yates.
Wolves- Ikeme, Golbourne, Edwards, Batth, Henry, McDonald (Coady 86), Iorfa, Price, Ebanks-Landell, Graham (Bryne 90), Le Fondre (Afobe 77). Unused- McCarey, Doherty, Wallace, Holt.
Referee- D Deadman
Attendance- 9759 (1752).