CHARLTON ATHLETIC moved to within one point of the Millers in the Championship table as they ran out victors over Neil Redfearn’s men at the AESSEAL New York Stadium.
Simon Makienok’s early opener was soon cancelled out by Chris Burke’s neat finish but Igor Vetokele struck on the stroke of half-time to give the Londoners the advantage at the break.
Makienok’s second of the afternoon in the second half gave the home side a mountain to climb before Ademola Lookman’s fourth in stoppage time rubbed salt into Rotherham’s wounds.
Following their hard-fought draw at Cardiff City last time out, the Millers made just one change to their starting line-up as Derby loanee Farrend Rawson was recalled at the heart of the Rotherham rearguard after shrugging off a hamstring injury as Tunisian international Aimen Belaid was unavailable because of a groin injury sustained in South Wales.
The home faithful were given their first glimpse of Burke, who joined the club last week, while new signing Andrew Shinnie was handed a place on the Millers bench just days after putting pen to paper on a loan deal from Birmingham City.
The Millers were quick out of the blocks and they had the first sight of goal when Burke’s incisive cross saw Danny Ward attempt to head goalwards, but he could only glance the ball into the path of Joe Newell, who screwed his effort harmlessly wide of the target.
However, the visitors stunned the home faithful by breaking the deadlock with their first foray of note on four minutes.
There looked little danger until Zakarya Bergdich injected pace into the move to show Shay Facey a quick of pair of heels before sliding the ball across the 18-yard box and with no Miller taking charge, Makienok successfully stretched to stroke the ball into the bottom corner of the net from the edge of the box giving Lee Camp no chance.
However, the Millers responded superbly to the early setback by levelling matters on 11 minutes as Burke crowned his home debut in superb style.
Following a period of head tennis where Athletic failed to clear the danger, Paul Green’s pass was controlled superbly by Danny Ward, who played a perfectly-weighted ball, into the advancing run of Burke, who had ghosted away from his marker, and the Forest loanee kept his nerve to slide the ball past Stephen Henderson into the heart of the visitors goal.
The home side were buoyed by the equaliser and Danny Ward almost broke clear before Newell took advantage of the Addicks defence backing off in the Millers’ next attack to strike a rasping effort which narrowly cleared the visitors’ crossbar.
At the other end, Joe Mattock put his body on the line to block Johann Berg Gudmundsson’s goalbound effort before the Icelandic international stung the palms of Camp with a swirling free-kick from distance in the visitors next attack.
Just before the half hour mark, Grant Ward was bundled over by Jordan Cousins in an inviting position on the edge of the box but following a training ground routine, Burke curled an effort which sailed over the Athletic wall but failed to trouble Henderson as it fizzed wide of the target.
There was a moment of controversy when Grant Ward got the better of Jorge Teixeira following a tussle near the touchline but as he looked to advance towards goal, referee Keith Stroud harshly penalised the Tottenham loanee to bring his run to an abrupt end.
With half-time approaching, Rawson superbly intercepted a through ball to prevent the Addicks breaking clear and the Millers turned defence into attack paving the way for Newell to swing a ball into the box and after Charlton failed to clear the danger, Grant Ward pounced on the loose ball before cutting inside with menace, but the youngster fluffed his lines when he blazed his shot harmlessly over from a promising position.
However, the Millers suffered a body blow when Charlton regained the lead on the stroke of half time when Henderson’s ball from the back saw Cousins’ slide-rule pass release Gudmundsson, who shrugged off the attentions of Kirk Broadfoot, before playing a perfectly weighted pass across the face of goal and Vetokele made no mistake to tap home from close range.
Half-time:- Rotherham United 1 Charlton Athletic 2
At the interval, Millers gaffer Neil Redfearn introduced Argentine striker Luciano Becchio into the fray for his AEESEAL New York Stadium return following a productive loan spell last season.
The move almost paid dividends at the start of the second half as Becchio’s arcing run worked the space for Newell to flash a pass into the feet of Danny Ward, who cut inside to curl a left-footed effort which brought a flying save out of Henderson, before the ball rolled to safety.
At the other end, the home fans’ had their hearts in their mouths when the Rotherham rearguard made a meal out of clearing the danger and Addicks skipper Johnnie Jackson fizzed a low effort which whistled narrowly wide of the target.
Just before the hour mark, Morgan Fox became the first to see yellow for dissent before Danny Ward’s speculative effort from long range was straight down the throat of Henderson.
Moments later, Broadfoot and Makienok became the latest to incur the wrath of the referee as they were both cautioned before Mattock’s clipped cross was headed down by sub Clarke-Harris into the path of Becchio, just yards out, but the ex-Leeds striker was unable to make a telling connection.
Minutes later, the Millers had Camp for keeping them in the clash when Vetokele’s smart turn on the edge of the box saw Rawson haul down the frontman and Jackson almost made the home side pay with the resultant free-kick but the home ‘keeper superbly tipped his effort over the bar.
However, Charlton did not have to wait long before adding a third goal when from the resultant corner, Gudmundsson swung a delightful centre and Makienok ghosted away from his closest marker in the tightest of spaces in the six-yard box to power a header into the heart of the home goal.
However, Redfearn’s men were given a lifeline just minutes later when Clarke-Harris got on the wrong side of Teixeira, who ushered the striker over in the box, and referee Stroud, following seconds of contemplation, pointed to the spot.
Despite dusting himself down to take the penalty himself, Clarke-Harris failed to make it count when he blasted the spot kick high into the visitors faithful behind the goal.
The ex-Oldham striker looked to make amends when he firstly latched onto a loose ball to drill a low effort which had Henderson scrambling across goal as it fizzed narrowly wide of the target before heading wide from Richie Smallwood’s corner in the next Millers’ attack of note.
The Millers knew it wasn’t going to be their day when firstly Becchio rose highest to meet sub Shinnie’s corner but Henderson stood up tall to block his downward header before sub Ademola Lookman made an immediate impact from the bench to roll in Charlton’s fourth in the dying seconds of the game.
Full-time:- Rotherham United 1 Charlton Athletic 4
Rotherham United 1
Charlton Athletic 4
Teams- Rotherham- Camp, Facey, Broadfoot, Rawson, Mattock, Burke (Shinnie 59), Green (Becchio 46), Smallwood, Newell (Clarke-Harris 59), G Ward, D Ward. Unused- Cairns, Wood, Richardson, Derbyshire
Charlton- Henderson, Solly, Teixeira, Lennon, Fox, Gudmundsson, Cousins, Jackson, Bergdich, Vetokele (Lookman 90), Makienok (Ghoochannejhad 75). Unused- Pope, Johnson, Ba, Poyet, Harriott.
Referee- K Stroud
Attendance- 9227 (739)