Rotherham United’s 100th league outing at AESSEAL New York Stadium ended in defeat as Preston North End registered a 3-1 victory in South Yorkshire.
Goals from Jordan Hugill and Callum Robinson set the Lilywhites on their way before Richard Wood put the Millers back in the game with his first goal for the club.
However, despite Wood’s header setting up a tense finale, substitute Marnick Vermijl ensured all three points for his side with a tap in at the back post.
Kenny Jackett made one change to the lineup that began the game at Portman Road a week previously, with Dominic Ball stepping into midfield at the expense of Greg Halford who picked up an injury in the 2-2 draw with Ipswich Town.
Wood was chosen once again to stand-in as the Millers’ captain with Lee Frecklington unable to recover from an ankle injury in time for the clash with the Lilywhites.
The hosts started brightly on home turf and threatened for the first time when Joe Mattock’s advanced position on the left flank allowed him room for a cross, which picked out Dexter Blackstock in the area who headed into the arms of Chris Maxwell.
However, Simon Grayson would have been disappointed not to see his side ahead on the seven minute-mark when a cross from the right picked out Callum Robinson six yards from goal, who failed to connect with his volley spurning a gilt-edged chance to take the lead.
Joe Newell’s corner would provide a scare for the Lilywhites and Paul Gallagher, as the midfielder connected with the delivery turning it towards his own goal, where former Miller Pringle was on hand to hack it off the line.
The Millers had utilised the long-throws of Halford and Will Vaulks to great effect on the recent trip to Ipswich and made use of it again after 15 minutes at New York. After drying the ball off with a towel on the sideline it was the former Falkirk man that arrowed in a throw that stand-in skipper Wood headed agonisingly wide of the far post.
The in-form Danny Ward managed two goals in Suffolk and almost added another to his to his impressive tally for the season when he thundered a long-range effort at goal which Maxwell could only parry
However, Jackett’s side slipped behind shortly after 20 minutes had elapsed in South Yorkshire when Hugill expertly headed them into the lead. The Millers failed to deal with a wicked delivery from the left before the Preston attacker leapt highest in the box to head the ball into the bottom corner of Lee Camp’s goal via the inside of the post.
The visitors inflicted further damage on the Millers a few moments later following another good move down the left side. This time is was Aiden McGeady that skipped beyond his defender before clipping a ball into the area, allowing Callum Robinson to power home a header and make it 2-0.
The Millers almost had one back just before half time when a touch from Blackstock fell kindly into the path of Jon Taylor, who drove into the area and unleashed a powerful effort which sailed over Maxwell’s crossbar.
Seconds later another chance came about in similar fashion when Blackstock again tamed a ball in a dangerous area, but it wouldn’t quite fall for Wood who threw everything at it but failed to make a telling connection to turn it at goal.
Half Time | Rotherham 0 v 2 Preston North End
Jackett introduced a double substitution after the interval with Greg Halford and Peter Odemwingie entering the fray in the places of Dominic Ball and Blackstock. The Millers started the second half brightly following the changes and would come close to pulling one back just after 10 minutes of the half had passed.
It was Ward again that provided the threat in the Preston area and after the ball dropped 14 yards from goal, he lashed a snapshot at the target which looked goalbound until being well cleared by a yellow shirt.
Grayson’s men forged a good opportunity to extend their lead just before the hour-mark when a crossfield pass picked out Pringle, whose touch found substitute Makienok, but he failed to beat Camp as he looked to cap the move.
With the visitors riding the crest of a wave, the dangerous McGeady looked to register on the scoresheet himself, having played a vital part in the Lilywhites’ second. A couple of stepovers 20 yards from goal were followed by an effort which Camp could only beat into the path of Robinson, but his effort ended up high in the stand with the Preston supporters behind the goal.
Robinson appeared keen to improve on his tally for the afternoon and came within a whisker of doing so moments later, as he cut inside and fired a low effort at the back post which needed a touch from a Millers’ defender to ensure it whizzed behind for a corner rather than rippling the back of the net.
Halford’s introduction added an extra weapon for the Millers from long throws and almost paid dividends with a goal as the game entered the final 20 minutes. A lengthy delivery into the box caused chaos but the ball wouldn’t fall kindly to Joe Newell or any of the other lurking red shirts in the box, with Preston gladly hacking it clear.
The Millers hit back through an unlikely source seconds later though to set up a thrilling end to the 100th league outing at AESSEAL New York Stadium. Substitute Odemwingie’s introduction paid off as the former West Brom man clipped in a teasing cross, which captain Wood flung himself at to turn home a header and see him notch his first goal in Rotherham United colours to make it 2-1.
The goal injected a new lease of life into Jackett’s side and they tested the alertness of the visitors’ rearguard again moments later. There looked to be little danger when a ball over the top headed in the direction of Tom Clarke, but his heavy fell into Ward’s path, who couldn’t escape the defender’s attention in time to loft the ball over Maxwell who was well off his line.
The Millers’ pressure was cruelly ended though as Preston found a third in a breakaway attack following some brilliant work on the wing from Daniel Johnson. It was the Preston number 11’s burst down the left which allowed him room to cross, and his perfectly weighted delivery left substitute Vermijl the simple task of tapping home at the back post with one of his first touches of the ball to restore his side’s two goal advantage.
Full Time | Rotherham 1 v 3 Preston North End
Millers | Camp; Fisher, Fry, Wood ©, Mattock; Taylor (Brown 76), Ball (Halford HT), Vaulks, Newell; Ward, Blackstock (Odemwingie HT).
Unused | Price, Kelly, Forde, Belaïd.
Preston North End | Maxwell, Cunningham, Clarke ©, Wright, Johnson, Gallagher, McGeady (Beckford 89), Pringle (Vermijl 77), Hugilln(Makienok 55), Baptiste, Robinson.
Unused | Lindegaard, Doyle, Grimshaw, Huntington.
Attendance | 10,013 (1,559 Away).