Rotherham United slipped to defeat against another side vying for an immediate return to the Premier League for the second time in as many games as they were defeated 3-1 by Norwich City at Carrow
Alan Stubbs’ side had reason to be confident as they arrived in Norfolk after giving Newcastle United a run for their money prior to the international break, but were undone by goals from Wes Hoolahan, Cameron Jerome and Steven Naismith despite Dexter Blackstock’s reply which saw them mount a challenge for an equaliser.
Millers’ boss Stubbs made just one change to the side the side that started the fixture a fortnight ago and it was an enforced one too, with Will Vaulks replacing the injured Tom Adeyemi who hadn’t recovered in time to be involved in Norfolk.
There was better news on defender Joe Mattock who sustained injury prior to the clash with Magpies a fortnight previously, allowing the former Sheffield Wednesday man to return to the bench at Carrow
Road, alongside Scott Allan and Jake Forster-Caskey who also made their returns to the squad.
The first chance of note almost yielded the first goal for the visitors and came after eight minutes had elapsed. Hoolahan set the move in motion with a short pass to Alex Pritchard in the area before charging towards goal where he received it and drilled an effort at the target, only to see a retreating Dominic Ball make a heroic clearance off the line.
Stubbs’ side looked to reply with an opportunity of their own just moments later which very nearly saw Jon Taylor run through one-on-one with Michael McGovern in the Canaries’ goal. A well-weighted pass set him on his way into the box but the pressure of a yellow shirt was enough to force him off balance and ensure it remained goalless.
Ball would thwart the hosts again soon after and following some more promising play down the left flank, saw a ball centred for Cameron Jerome who may feel he should have hit the net instead of the Millers’ defender with his strike from 10 yards.
The hosts’ pressure would eventually tell after 17 minutes and it would be the dangerous Hoolahan to break the deadlock with a piece of individual brilliance. The chance looked to have escaped the long-serving Canaries’ midfielder as he brought the ball down in the box but after a series of twists and turns which left Ball and Lee Camp stranded he kept his composure to slot the ball into the unguarded net and put his side ahead.
A series of Joe Newell deliveries would follow in the aftermath of the goal, the first of which forged a chance for an immediate equaliser for Stubbs’ side. After coming in from the touchline, the former Peterborough United man whipped in a tantalising cross towards Danny Ward at the near post who looked destined to score until an intervention from Timm Klose meant the Millers’ had to settle for a corner.
Darnell Fisher’s burst down the left wing and cutback paved the way for three successive Millers’ corners, the first of which provided the visitors with the best chance. Newell’s inswinger picked out Brown’s leap at the near post and his header almost dropped for the lurking Jon Taylor who had it taken off his toe as he looked to pull the trigger.
Experienced frontman Cameron Jerome had proven a thorn in the Milers’ side in the early exchanges and almost added a second for the hosts shortly after the half-hour mark. His movement in the box following a Canaries’ corner freed him some space before Hoolahan’s cutback picked him out, but the presence of Dael Fry was enough to ensure his shot was a tame one when he eventually found room to release.
The recalled Vaulks then fired a shot across the bows of Norwich with a 25 yard piledriver which Northern Ireland goalkeeper McGovern gathered cleanly in the centre of his goal.
That seemed to spur Stubbs’ side on and they came close again just moments later with arguably their best chance of the half. Greg Halford’s lofted ball was expertly controlled by Ward, who proceeded to charge towards goal and rifle an effort inches wide of the near post.
Half Time | Norwich City 1 v 0 Rotherham
The Millers remained unchanged after the break with Stubbs showing faith in the 11 that began the clash at Carrow
That decision almost paid off immediately when a counter attack saw Ward loft a ball over Klose and into the path of Brown who raced towards McGovern’s goal untracked, only to be beaten to the ball by the onrushing goalkeeper who got clattered into by the Chelsea loanee who stretched to touch it beyond him.
Clearly not content on his tally for the afternoon, Hoolahan went in search of a second and almost added one on 51 minutes after skipping free of a couple of light blue shirts before rocketing an effort at goal which required a smart save from Camp to deny him.
He had another chance just seconds later when Olsson’s wicked cross from the left found him unattended in the box but he could only direct his header straight into the arms of a grateful Camp.
Hoolahan would once again play a part in undoing the Millers though, as Norwich found a second on 65 minutes. It was his cross from the right flank which was met by Jerome in the area, who directed his touch beyond Camp to make it 2-0 and send the Canaries’ faithful into raptures.
Norwich’s second seemed to spring the Millers back into life and they did manage to put the ball in the back of the hosts’ goal just a minute later. Vaulks’ absolutely thunderous strike from 25 yards was too hot for McGovern to handle and saw him parry it into the path of Taylor who gleefully slotted home, only to be greeted by the offside flag.
The Millers boss then introduced Blackstock to the attack as his side searched for a way back into the game and that move paid dividends soon after. Following a wonderful chance for Lee Frecklington to pull one back, Blackstock did just that with only his second touch of note.
Fisher, who had turned in a superb performance in the left back berth for the Millers, embarked upon another marauding run before delivering a low cross to the near post, where the former Nottingham Forest substitute applied the final touches to make it 2-1 and set up a nervy finish for Alex Neil’s side.
The visitors pressed and pressed for an equaliser and in their efforts found themselves vulnerable when Norwich countered through Josh Murphy. His low cross picked out substitute Steven Naismith who couldn’t miss as he rolled the ball over the line at the back post to wrap up the points for Norwich City.
Full Time | Norwich City 3 v 1 Rotherham.
Norwich City | McGovern, Pinto, Martin ©, Klose, Olsson; Jacob Murphy, Tettey, Dorrans, Pritchard; Hoolahan; Jerome.
Subs | Ruddy, Bassong, Naismith, Oliveira, Bennett, Josh Murphy, Thompson.
Millers | Camp; Halford, Fry, Ball, Fisher; Taylor, Vaulks, Frecklington ©, Newell; Brown; Ward.
Subs | Price, Mattock, Forde, Forster-Caskey, Wilson, Blackstock, Allan.
Attendance | 26,813