Rotherham United extended their unbeaten run to seven games as they recorded a 1-1 draw with Bristol City at Ashton Gate on Tuesday night.
Matt Derbyshire’s late inclusion more than paid dividends when he coolly slotted the Millers into a first half lead after latching onto a Richard Wood ball over the top, but Peter Odemwingie’s emphatic leveller ensured the sides shared the spoils in the West Country.
Neil Warnock was handed a huge boost ahead of the game as news emerged that Derbyshire’s red card against Leeds United and the resulting ban had been rescinded meaning the striker was eligible for selection for the game in the West Country.
The Millers boss made one change to the starting 11 that tasted success in the Yorkshire derby against Leeds United at the weekend, with Lloyd Doyley’s omission paving the way for Richard Wood to step into the vacant centre half berth.
The opening exchanges in Bristol weren’t too far from that of a chess game with both sides getting a feel for the game, but the Millers early discipline would pay off just after the 10 minute mark.
There seemed to be little imminent danger when Wood picked the ball up inside the Millers half, but his lofted pass set Derbyshire free in behind the defence and the former Blackburn Rovers man seemed totally unfazed by the pressure as he lofted the ball over Richard O’Donnell to give the visitors the lead.
The hosts had been comfortable in possession but had not tested Lee Camp in the Millers’ goal until 22 minutes had elapsed, when they fashioned their first chance of note. Aaron Wilbraham’s darting run into the box saw the ball fall for Odemwingie on the edge of the area, but the former Stoke City man couldn’t keep his effort down and meant that Camp could watch on as the ball sailed over his crossbar.
Camp was finally called into action moments later from a Robins’ corner and this time he came to the Millers’ aid in spectacular fashion. The home faithful were already on their feet when the towering figure of Aden Flint rose above the visitors’ defence to power a header at goal, but the outstretched arm of the Northern Ireland stopper was enough to tip the ex-Alfreton man’s header over the crossbar.
There was cause for Warnock to be concerned when midfield anchor man Greg Halford picked up an injury just past the half hour but following lengthy treatment from the Millers’ medical staff, he picked himself up to rejoin the action as the shield in the visitors’ armory.
The home crowd were buoyed by Flint’s earlier chance and as the noise levels increased at Ashton Gate, so did the pressure that the Robins began to apply. On loan Bournemouth attacker Lee Tomlin looked the most likely to restore parity when he danced clear of a number of blue shirts, only to drag his left footed effort wide inside the area.
The Fourth Official’s board showed seven minutes of stoppage time to be played prior to the interval and Lee Johnson’s side continued their search for an equaliser right until the whistle. The final chance of the opening stanza came from a dangerous cross from the left flank which saw Flint stab an effort at goal which Camp got down to save smartly.
Half-time: Bristol City 0 v 1 Rotherham.
The Millers showed similar industry following the restart and it was Derbyshire again that epitomised the work ethic of Warnock’s side. The Millers goalscorer covered ground quickly in the final third to close down O’Donnell who was forced to make a hasty clearance as he raced out of his goal.
However, the equaliser came following another spell of Robins pressure 10 minutes after the restart. Johnson may have thought his side were out of luck when a series of Korey Smith crosses were repelled from the byline, but profited from some good fortune moments later when a cross from the left fell invitingly for Odemwingie in the box, who took no chances as he rocketed an effort home from close range.
The Millers forged a decent chance to restore their lead moments after the hour mark when some good work from Halford on the right flank saw him work space for a cross before picking out Derbyshire at the back post, but the Millers’ goalscorer couldn’t double his tally for the evening as his wild shot almost ended up back with Halford on the wing.
More pressing from the visitors would yield another good chance for Warnock’s side and after Grant Ward chased a ball down in the final third, the ball fell invitingly for Richie Smallwood on the edge of the box, but he couldn’t keep his powerful volley below the crossbar.
The game continued to swing from end-to-end and almost everyone in the ground thought Bristol City had established the lead when Odemwingie met a cross from the right with a header and he was almost ready to peel away to celebrate as Camp pulled off a contender for save of the season to dig it out and turn it over the crossbar.
The Millers’ defence was tested seconds later from the resultant corner as Flint towered highest to head at goal but Camp was a bystander this time as his effort whistled wide of the post.
Warnock’s men showed plenty to suggest they were not happy to settle for a draw and almost got their noses back in front when an electric burst from G Ward saw him pick out substitute Danny Ward with a cross from the byline, but his effort was tame at the near post and O’Donnell gathered it gladly.
The Millers almost stole it at the end through an unlikely source in Wood who found himself in an advanced position to meet a cross from the left, but couldn’t make the desired connection and put his effort over the crossbar.
Full-time: Bristol City 1 v 1 Rotherham
Bristol City: O’Donnell, Matthews, Flint, Baker, Golbourne (Freeman 76), Smith, Pack, Tomlin, Odemwingie (Kodjia 80), Bryan, Wilbraham.
Unused: Fielding, Little, Agard, Reid, Pearce.
Millers: Camp. Kelly, Broadfoot, Wood, Mattock, Halford, G Ward, Smallwood, Frecklington, Derbyshire (D Ward 64), Best.
Unused: Kenny, Thomas, Richardson, Clarke-Harris, Newell, Facey.
Attendance: 15,748 (327 away).