ROTHERHAM UNITED gave their Championship survival hopes a shot in the arm as they put fellow strugglers Bolton Wanderers to the sword following a rampant second-half display.
Following an even first half, Grant Ward’s second goal of the season gave the home side the lead before Danny Ward’s smartly taken second doubled their advantage.
In a day to forget for the visitors, Joe Newell’s notched his fourth goal in six games before sub Jonson Clarke-Harris put the gloss on a polished Millers performance with a smart fourth goal near the end.
Following their eye-catching victory over Hull City last time out, the Millers made two changes to their starting line-up for their Boxing Day Roses clash.
Experienced defender Frazer Richardson was recalled to the right-back slot with Republic of Ireland Stephen Kelly missing out because of a calf injury.
French playmaker Tony Andreu was given an opportunity to impress in the home engine room as Luke Hyam was recalled by his parent club Ipswich Town for the festive football programme.
Following a slow start by both teams, the Millers had the first sight of goal when Danny Ward was fouled on halfway paving the way for Richardson to float a delicate free-kick which was knocked down by Kirk Broadfoot before being hooked on by Farrend Rawson but visiting ‘keeper Ben Amos was quick off his line to snuff out the danger.
Moments later, Rawson’s ball into the channel was flicked on by Andreu and Grant Ward got the better of Dean Moxey, who was touchtight in the challenge, before working a yard of space on David Wheater to fizz a rasping centre which had Amos flying across goal but there was no Miller in an advanced position to take advantage.
The game sparked to life when firstly Rotherham launched a quick counter led by Joe Newell, whose curling ball over the top seemed to put Danny Ward in the clear before he was unceremoniously tripped by Moxey but fortunately for the Lancastrians, the assistant referee had already flagged for offside.
With the Millers committing bodies upfield in the move, the visitors caught the home side napping with a quickly taken free-kick and a threaded ball released Emile Heskey, who calmly cut inside to play a slide-rule pass to Zach Clough, who looked a likely scorer but Lee Camp raced off his line to block his goalbound effort with a superb reflex save.
Just before the half hour mark, skipper Lee Frecklington dragged a shot harmlessly wide from distance following good work by Andreu and Danny Ward in the build up before Darren Pratley’s clumsy foul on Andreu paved for Newell to try his luck from the resultant free-kick but Amos was well-stationed to palm his dipping effort over the bar.
Newell was in the thick of the action and in the next phase of play, his inswinging corner saw Broadfoot rise highest at the far post but he couldn’t control his header as it flew over the bar.
Minutes later, the Millers wasted a gilt-edged chance to take the lead when Andreu’s deft flick saw Danny Ward get on the wrong side of his marker to bare down on goal with just Amos to beat, but the visiting ‘keeper stood up tall to goalbound effort before collecting the ball at the second attempt.
In the next home attack, Andreu sailed a deep corner to the far post and Joe Mattock climbed above his marker to loop an effort which narrowly cleared the visitors crossbar before Clough took Amos’ punt upfield in his stride to work a shooting position but his tame effort from the edge of the box failed to trouble Camp at the other end.
With half-time approaching, Wanderers were thankful to Wheater, who was on-hand with a last-ditch header to prevent Danny Ward from connecting with Grant Ward’s superb centre from the right flank.
Half-time:- Rotherham United 0 Bolton Wanderers 0
The visitors were quick out of the blocks at the start of the second half and sub Gary Madine almost made an immediate impact when he was inches away from latching onto Moxey’s bullet throw into the box.
Minutes later, Newell showed fleet of foot to ghost past Rob Holding to burst into the box but his cross-cum-shot was hacked clear before Danny Ward spun smartly on the edge of the box to have a glimpse of goal but his effort was bravely blocked by Wheater.
The home side were cranking up the pressure and they were rewarded for their efforts when they broke the deadlock just before the hour mark.
After Wheater’s deflection conceded the corner, Andreu showed quick thinking from the set-piece to pick out Grant Ward on the edge of the box, who controlled smartly before pulling the trigger with his left-foot, and the ball fizzed through the ruck of bodies and Amos, in attempting to clear, could only being able to parry the ball into the roof of the net.
The Tottenham loanee was proving a thorn in the Wanderers’ side and his lung-bursting run left Wheater in his wake but his pull-back for Andreu, was deflected behind, before the duo combined once again from the resultant corner but Ward’s snap shot from the edge of the box was deflected over the bar.
At the other end, Moxey’s deep centre found Liam Feeney at the far post but his header cleared the crossbar before Bolton had Amos to thank for keeping them in the game as Newell’s tantalising centre was inch-perfect for Broadfoot, who looked a certain scorer but his point-blank save was superbly saved by Amos, who somehow managed to keep the ball out.
The loose ball fell kindly for Danny Ward, who worked a crossing position to float a superb centre which was headed clear by Dorian Dervite, from underneath his own crossbar.
However, the Millers did not have to wait long to double their advantage as they netted in their next attack.
There looked little danger until Newell’s clip over the top saw Danny Ward successfully break the offside trap and the ex-Huddersfield striker kept his nerve to coolly round Amos and despite having a tight angle to contend with, he smashed a left-footed effort into the heart of the visitors goal.
Minutes later, Holding and Grant Ward became the first to see yellow within minutes before Mattock brought the best out of Amos with a snap shot which he saved with a strong hand.
The game was swinging end to end and Madine headed over from Feeney’s centre before Rotherham smartly a third when a deft flick by Andreu saw Newell burst into the box and the ex-Peterborough midfielder kept his cool to roll the ball through the legs of the advancing Amos to send the AESSEAL New York Stadium into ecstasy.
In the dying minutes, Frecklington’s run and pass paved the way for Andreu to blast over the bar before sub Clarke-Harris crowned a superb second-half display from the Millers when he latched onto another timely flick and he shrugged off the attentions of Dervite to calmly slot the ball past the attentions of Amos into the near post.
The visitors were denied a consolation when Camp’s point-blank save denied Clough before Grant Ward dragged a low effort narrowly wide of the target as the Millers secured back-to-back wins for the third time this season.
Full-time:- Rotherham United 4 Bolton Wanderers 0
Rotherham United 4
Bolton Wanderers 0
Teams:- Rotherham- Camp, Richardson, Rawson, Broadfoot, Mattock, G Ward, Smallwood, Frecklington, Newell (Green 90), Andreu, D Ward (Clarke-Harris 80). Unused- Collin, Collins, Thorpe, Ledesma, Derbyshire.
Bolton- Amos, Holding, Dervite, Wheater, Moxey, Spearing (Wellington 61), Pratley, Danns, Feeney, Heskey (Madine 48) , Clough. Unused- Rachubka, Gouano, Osede, Dobbie, Twardzik.
Referee- G Eltringham
Attendance- 11315 (1783)