KAYODE ODEJAYI’s second-half equaliser earned Rotherham United a deserved share of the spoils from their lively derby clash at Chesterfield.
The Millers were undone by an early Jordan Bowery strike following Scott Shearer’s error but Odejayi’s well-taken strike prevented them slipping to back-to-back away defeats.
Following their 2-1 defeat at the hands of Northampton Town in midweek, Steve Evans made two changes to the Millers starting line-up with Lionel Ainsworth and Gareth Evans drafted in at the expense of Michael O’Connor and Daniel Nardiello, who dropped to the bench.
Buoyed by a large travelling contingent, the Millers’ faithful were stunned when the Spireites broke the deadlock after just two minutes.
A long ball forward looked innocuous enough but despite looking favourite to collect, Shearer lost his footing and Drew Talbot slid the ball across the face of goal and Bowery had the simple task of sidefooting home into the empty net.
The home side were galvanised by the breakthrough and Kari Arnason had to be on-hand to snuff out Bowery before Talbot stung the palms of Shearer with a long-range effort minutes later.
Despite being second-best in the opening minutes, the Millers almost got on level terms with their first attack of note when an arrowed cross saw Ainsworth get the better of Nathan Smith before smashing the ball into the roof of the net but his joy was short-lived as referee Darren Drysdale believed the ex-Shrewsbury flyer had controlled the ball with the use of his arm.
In an open encounter, Ainsworth forced Tommy Lee into taking evasive action with a skimming effort before Arnason came within a whisker of the equaliser as he met Ben Pringle’s corner but his glancing header grazed the upright with Lee in no-man’s land.
At the other end, Smith teased and tormented Arnason before floating a delightful cross which looped over Shearer to strike the far post before Ian Sharps inavertedly diverted the ball behind.
Just past the quarter-hour, Chesterfield failed to clear decisively and David Noble struck a fierce effort which deflected off Mark Allott giving Lee the simple task of collecting with ease.
With the game being subject to a torrential downpour, the home side almost extended their advantage when Danny Whitaker’s slide-rule pass saw Bowery get on the wrong side of Sharps before drilling a low effort which was arrowing towards the bottom corner until Shearer’s intervention.
Moments later, Pringle floated a corner which saw Sharps climb highest but his towering header narrowly evaded the crossbar before Marc Richards blazed over from distance at the other end.
The Millers frustration was summed up when Evans was yellow-carded for kicking the ball away before Odejayi almost got on the end of another tantalising Pringle set-piece moments later.
With half-time approaching, Smith was harshly shown the yellow card following a 50/50 challenge with Pringle before the home side missed a guilt-edged chance to double their advantage when Richards’ smart lay-off fell invitingly for Whitaker, just outside the box, but he wastefully blazed over with the goal at his mercy.
In the last play of the half, Chesterfield had ‘keeper Lee to thank for maintaining their lead when he superbly tipped over Pringle’s flashing effort as the home side failed to clear the danger.
Half-time:- Chesterfield 1 Rotherham United 0
Following the restart, the Millers were quick out of the blocks and Sam Hird was shown the yellow card for tripping Evans in full flight and from the resultant free-kick, Arnason’s snap shot was blocked by Whitaker.
The visitors were rewarded for their lightning start to the second stanza when they equalised on 51 minutes thanks to Odejayi’s second goal of the season.
A long through ball saw the ex-Barnsley targetman spin Hird smartly before showing the defender a clean pair of heels and after bearing down on Lee, he kept his composure to calmly stroke the ball past the on-rushing ‘keeper.
The Millers were sniffing blood and a long punt forward saw Odejayi outmuscle Hird before calmly sliding the ball into the advancing run of Pringle, but with the goal at his mercy, his goalbound effort was blocked by a retreating defender.
In a rare foray by the home side, Sharps had to be on his toes to prevent Bowery having a shooting opportunity before Whitaker headed wide from the resultant corner.
At the other end, Odejayi’s smart backheel released Ainsworth, who cut inside dangerously before striking a low drive which forced Lee into a full-length save.
With the game hanging in the balance, Sam Togwell flashed a rasping effort which narrowly cleared the crossbar before Sharps was booked after hauling down sub Jack Lester.
With seconds remaining, Terrell Forbes’ hanging cross saw Bowery head invitingly in the path of Lester, but his shot was blocked by Sharps before Neal Trotman almost broke Millers’ hearts but his wayward header failed to trouble Shearer when he really should have done better.
Full-time: Chesterfield 1 Rotherham United 1
Chesterfield:- Lee, Forbes, Trotman, Hird, Smith, Talbot, Togwell, Allott, Whitaker (Ridehaigh 77), Richards (Lester 71), Bowery. Unused:- O’Donnell, Randall, Clay, Boden, Hazell.
Rotherham:- Shearer, Wilson, Arnason, Sharps, Ainsworth (Agard 73), Taylor, Evans (Revell 82), Bradley, Pringle (Rose 90), Odejayi, Noble. Unused:- Warrington, Mullins, O’Connor, Nardiello.
Referee:- Darren Drysdale
Man of the Match:- Kayode Odejayi