DESPITE a brave second-half rally, Rotherham United returned home from West Yorkshire empty-handed following a 2-1 defeat at the hands of high-flying Huddersfield Town.
Despite falling behind to Elias Kachunga’s early opener, Danny Ward came back to haunt his former club with the equaliser just past the half hour mark.
However, Nahki Wells put Town in front just minutes later before David Wagner’s side withstood some late Millers pressure, which saw Tom Adeyemi head wide from just yards out in the dying minutes.
Following the narrow defeat at the hands of Cardiff City at the weekend, the Millers made two changes to their starting line-up for the short hop to the John Smith’s Stadium.
Young defender Dominic Ball returned at the heart of the Millers rearguard as Kelvin Wilson had to settle for a substitutes berth while Adeyemi was recalled in the visitors’ engine room after he was ineligible to face the Bluebirds as Greg Halford was named on the bench.
The home side were quick out of the blocks and they stunned the Millers with the opening breakthrough in just the second minute of the game.
With the hosts’ first foray down the right flank, Aaron Mooy’s shot was blocked by a retreating defender and with Lee Frecklington unable to clear the danger, the ball ricocheted into the path of Kachunga, who got on the wrong side of his marker to stab home into the roof of the net from point-blank range.
The home side were lifted by the breakthrough and both Kasey Palmer and Mooy had shots blocked on the edge of the box before Wells bamboozled Ball with an exquisite piece of skill but Dael Fry was on his toes to prevent the Bermudian breaking clear.
Wells was in the thick of the action and after Tareiq Holmes-Dennis’ clever pullback, the home striker drilled a low effort from the edge of the box which had Lee Camp nervously scurrying across goal as it whistled narrowly wide of the target.
The Millers were struggling to find their way into the game until Joe Newell’s deep corner looked inviting for the run of Ball, but the ex-Tottenham defender, under pressure from a home defender, was unable to connect as the ball flew over his head.
Moments later, fine approach play from Kachunga and Tommy Smith paved the way for Sean Scannell to strike goalwards but Ball put his body on the line to block the ball en-route to goal.
Despite playing second fiddle to the home side for the opening half-hour, the Millers equalised on 34 minutes when Izzy Brown foraged hard to win possession before Newell curled a delightful ball into the path of Jon Taylor, who controlled smartly to deliver a tantalising centre which saw Danny Ward nip infront of his marker to deftly flick the ball into the bottom corner of the Terriers goal.
However, the Millers’ joy proved to be short-lived as Huddersfield regained the lead just four minutes later.
There looked little danger for the visitors until the home side injected pace into the move and Scannell threaded a perfectly-weighted pass into the path of Wells, who got a yard on his marker, to drag a low effort across goal and the ball beat the outstretched hand of Camp before finding the Millers goal via the inside of the post.
The home side almost added a third when Darnell Fisher was penalised in an inviting position and Scannell curled a delicious centre which saw Chris Schindler rise highest but fortunately for the Millers, his close range header was straight down the throat of Camp.
With half-time approaching, Dean Whitehead became the first to see yellow for a hefty challenge on Adeyemi.
Half-time- Huddersfield Town 2 Rotherham United 1
Following the interval, the hosts had the first sight of goal when Palmer blazed a long-range effort over the Millers goal before Fisher had to stick out a timely leg to prevent Wells shooting across goal, in the next phase of play.
Moments later, Scannell became the latest player to be cautioned for bundling over Fisher in full flow before Kachunga’s corner found its way to Michael Hefele at the back post and the German looked to scuff the ball towards goal but he failed to trouble the target.
In a rare Millers foray, Brown and Taylor combined smartly to give Frecklington a sight of goal but the Millers skipper dragged a low effort harmlessly wide of the home goal.
On the hour mark, Hefele headed over the bar following Holmes-Dennis’ corner before Holmes-Dennis and Palmer exchanged passes to pave the way for the latter to skew a shot wide.
Moments later, Hefele flashed a shot wide from close range after Rotherham failed to clear the danger before Palmer broke into the Millers box to fire a cross-cum-shot across the face of goal.
In a carbon copy of the Millers goal, Taylor whipped in a dangerous centre which saw Ward ghost in unnoticed, but this time, his effort was deflected wide before Newell saw yellow for a cynical lunge on Kachunga.
With the game in the balance, Fisher and Brown combined superbly to present a shooting opportunity for Frecklington, but the Millers midfielder fluffed his lines when he failed to trouble Danny Ward, in the home goal, despite finding himself in a promising position on the edge of the box.
Sub Jack Payne almost made an immediate impression for the hosts when he flashed a long-range effort narrowly over the visitors’ bar before the Millers missed a gilt-edged chance to earn a share of the spoils just seconds after substitutes Anthony Forde and Dexter Blackstock were introduced to the fray.
With the hosts backtracking, Forde cut inside with menace to deliver a delightful centre which was inch-perfect for Adeyemi at the back post and despite no home defender being in sight, the Cardiff loanee bizarrely failed to hit the target from just six yards out despite having the goal at his mercy.
Adeyemi almost made amends when he made something out of nothing before firing over from just outside the box but Town held on to earn the White Rose bragging rights.
Full-time: Huddersfield Town 2 Rotherham United 1
Teams:- Huddersfield- Danny Ward, Smith, Whitehead (Hogg 79), Scannell (Stankovic 89), Kachunga, Mooy, Holmes-Dennis, Wells, Schindler, Hefele, Palmer (Payne 75). Unused- Coleman, Bunn, Cranie, Paurevic.
Rotherham- Camp, Mattock, Frecklington, Danny Ward, Taylor, Ball, Fisher, Fry, Newell (Forde 84), Adeyemi (Halford 90), Brown (Blackstock 84). Unused- Price, Vaulks, Forster-Caskey, Halford, Wilson.
Referee- S Attwell
Attendance- 18,808 (742).