A MUCH-improved second half performance proved in vain as Rotherham United slipped to a 2-0 defeat at the hands of fellow strugglers Huddersfield Town.
Neil Redfearn’s men found the going tough in the first half at the John Smith’s Stadium as Mustapha Carayol gave the hosts an interval lead.
Despite an improved showing from the Millers following the break which saw Joe Newell go close to levelling matters, Ishmael Miller struck with just under 20 minutes to give the West Yorkshiremen victory.
Following their narrow defeat at the hands of Blackburn Rovers on Friday night, the Millers made just one change to their starting line-up as Danny Ward shrugged off a knee injury to take his place against his former club as Ipswich loanee Luke Hyam was named amongst the substitutes.
The home side were quick out of the blocks and Tommy Smith made inroads down the right flank before planting a deep centre which found Carayol, who controlled smartly to fire an effort which deflected narrowly wide of the target.
From the resultant corner, Carayol’s front-post corner was deftly flicked by Joel Lynch but Lee Camp was well-stationed to snuff out the danger.
Moments later, Duane Holmes advanced with menace from the heart of midfield to give Sean Scannell a glimpse of goal but the ex-Palace midfielder could only fire into the side netting.
In the Millers first foray of note, Richie Smallwood’s threaded pass put Danny Ward in the clear but as he looked to shoot from the edge of the box, Lynch made a superb last-ditch tackle to keep the scores goalless.
In a pulsating opening, Carayol was again in the thick of the action as his perfectly weighted pass paved the way for Ben Chilwell to fire into the side netting from an acute angle before Smallwood hauled down Holmes in an inviting position and Harry Bunn almost made the Millers pay from the resultant free-kick with a piledriver from distance which had Camp nervously scurrying across goal as it whistled past the upright.
Minutes later, Lynch was urged to shoot by the home faithful and he duly obliged to fire a long-range effort which flashed narrowly wide of the target before the home side broke the deadlock just past the half hour mark thanks to a wonder strike from Carayol.
There looked little danger as the home side switched play but Smith’s inside pass saw Carayol weigh up his options before firing a rasping drive from distance, which seemingly swerved in the air, and Camp was left grasping at thin air as the ball nestled in the roof the visitors net.
With half-time approaching, the Millers had a rare sight of goal when skipper Lee Frecklington’s perfectly timed run into the box was rewarded when he controlled a high ball smartly to hook an effort narrowly wide of the target.
In stoppage time, Carayol turned from finisher to provider with a slide-rule pass into the box but fortunately for the Millers, Bunn lost his footing as he looked to shoot and his tame effort was straight down the throat of Camp.
Half-time: Huddersfield Town 1 Rotherham United 0
Following the interval, the Millers had the first sight of goal when Smallwood’s diagonal ball saw Grant Ward get the better of his marker to dart into the box but his pull-back evaded the attentions of Jonson Clarke-Harris, who failed to anticipate the pass.
Moments later, Clarke-Harris latched onto Danny Ward’s neat flick on but Lynch was on his toes to block his effort before Joe Mattock tried twice to get shots away in the next phase of play but his efforts were blocked by a ruck of bodies.
The Millers were building a head of steam and Lynch became the first to see yellow for a clumsy foul on Clarke-Harris before the visitors had faint appeals for a spot kick when Lewis Buxton’s long free kick was met by the head of Kirk Broadfoot and the ball seemed to strike the arm of Jonathan Hogg but the referee waved away Rotherham protests.
Just past the hour mark, the Millers had their best opportunity to date when Grant Ward skipped past Carayol, who appeared to haul him back, but the referee played advantage and Newell cut inside his marker to drill a low effort which was saved by the legs of Jed Steer.
Minutes later, Mattock became the next to incur the wrath of the referee as he was cautioned for bringing down Carayol in full flow before Huddersfield effectively sealed the deal as they doubled their advantage with 17 minutes remaining.
The visitors were punished for being caught square at the back as a lob over the top put Ishmael Miller in the clear and he showed Broadfoot a quick pair of heels as he bared down on goal to calmly slot the ball past the advancing Camp.
The Millers frustration was summed up just moments later when Steer flapped at a long punt forward and with the home defence at sixes and sevens, Clarke-Harris attempted to turn the ball goalwards but the ball struck the upright before being diverted to safety.
Moments later, Clarke-Harris was hauled down on the edge of the box but he failed to exact retribution from the resultant free-kick as he was twice denied by the Huddersfield wall which held firm.
In the dying stages, sub Joe Lolley went close to adding a third for the hosts, who secured their first home victory in five attempts and leave the Millers facing their third successive defeat.
Full-time:- Huddersfield Town 2 Rotherham United 0
Huddersfield Town 2
Rotherham United 0
Teams:- Huddersfield- Steer, Smith, Hudson, Hogg, Scannell (Lolley 58), Carayol, Bunn, Holmes (Paterson 71), Wells (Miller 46), Chilwell, Lynch. Unused- Allinson, Davidson, Wallace, Dempsey
Rotherham- Camp, Buxton, Mattock, Collins, Broadfoot, Frecklington, D Ward, G Ward, Clarke-Harris, Newell (Hyam 74), Smallwood (Derbyshire 76). Unused- Collin, Green, Thorpe, Andreu, Toffolo.
Referee- M Brown