REPORT | Rotherham 1 v 2 Burton Albion
ROTHERHAM United ended 2016 on a losing note as Burton Albion ran out 2-1 winners at the AESSEAL New York Stadium thanks to first-half goals from Chris O'Grady and Jackson Irvine.
Tom Adeyemi’s second goal for the club gave the Millers hope just shy of the interval but despite a determined second-half display from the home side, Nigel Clough’s men kept them at bay to claim the three points.
Following their thrill-a-minute victory over Wigan Athletic on Boxing Day, Rotherham interim manager Paul Warne kept faith in his starting line-up for the visit of the Brewers.
Utility player Greg Halford made a welcome return to the Millers’ bench following a spell on the sidelines because of an ankle injury while one-time Rotherham striker O’Grady was named in the visitors’ starting 11.
There were also a couple of familiar faces on the visitors’ bench as former Millmoor stalwarts Lee Williamson and Shaun Barker were named among Burton’s substitutes.
The Millers were quick out of the blocks and Anthony Forde’s clipped ball over the top nearly put Joe Newell in the clear but Jon McLaughlin was quick off his line to cut out the danger before John Mousinho was forced to turn the ball behind after Danny Ward almost latched onto Lewis Price’s long punt upfield.
At the other end, Lloyd Dyer skipped past Lee Frecklington to deliver a tantalising cross which evaded the attentions of Price forcing Joe Mattock to head behind before Matty Palmer’s resultant corner was floated underneath Price’s crossbar but the pressure was released on the home side as the referee blew for a foul on the Rotherham stopper by John Brayford.
Moments later, Newell superbly exchanged passes with Mattock paving the way for the former to burst into the Burton box and the Rotherham midfielder got the ball from under his feet to fire a left-footed effort which seemingly took a deflection off Kyle McFadzean as the ball flew narrowly wide of the Burton goal.
In the next phase of play, Mousinho was fortunate to escape action for unceremoniously bundling over Frecklington in full flow and from the following free-kick, Forde’s inviting centre was headed over his own bar by a retreating Burton defender.
Minutes later, McFadzean became the first to see yellow for hauling over Forde on the edge of the box and the Millers almost made the visitors pay from the resultant free-kick when Danny Ward’s thunderbolt strike almost knocked McLaughlin off his feet, as the Burton ‘keeper superbly managed to keep the ball out and tantalisingly for the home side, the ball spun around the visitors goal but the onrushing Richard Wood could only fire into the side netting from an acute angle.
In a fast Millers opening, Frecklington’s scoop over the top bisected the Burton rearguard but Izzy Brown was unable to make a clean connection with his volley as McLaughlin was able to snuff out the danger before Irvine headed wide from Palmer’s free-kick at the other end.
In a lovely home move involving Mattock and Frecklington near the left touchline, Newell had the opportunity to ghost into the visitors box but despite baring down on goal, the Millers midfielder was unable to get his shot away under pressure from retreating visiting defenders.
Just shy of the half hour mark, the visitors missed a gilt-edged chance to open the scoring when Palmer got the better of Adeyemi to release Dyer, who fired a tantalising centre which saw Akins nip infront of his marker but the Burton frontman was unable to get his feet in the right position as he screwed his volley wide of the target despite having the goal at his mercy.
Moments later, Brown’s lay-off presented the opportunity to Adeyemi to try his luck from distance but his rasping effort flew narrowly over the bar before Frecklington became the next player to be cautioned for his involvement in a tangle between McLaughlin and McFadzean, with saw the visiting stopper fall awkwardly under the challenge.
In the next period of play, Wood rose majestically from Forde’s corner but the home centre-half was unable to generate any power or direction to his header as it screwed harmlessly wide of the target before Albion made the all-important breakthrough on 36 minutes.
The ball fell invitingly for Akins in the box and the Burton striker showed quick feet to work a shooting position as his arrowed effort forced Price into a parried save but the ball fell kindly for the onrushing O'Grady who bravely poked the ball home from close range.
The evening took a further turn for the worst for the home side, just five minutes later, when Brayford turned from scorer to creator as he curled a delightful centre from the right flank which saw Irvine tower over the challenge of Adeyemi, in the six-yard box, to power a bullet header which gave Price no chance as it cannoned off the underside of the crossbar before finding the net to double the Staffordshire side’s advantage.
The Millers were struggling to clear their heads from the double-whammy and superb one-touch football involving Palmer and Irvine released Dyer, who advanced with menace into the home box but Wood was on-hand to cut out his cross-cum-shot.
However, against the run of play, the Millers grabbed a foothold back in the game by halving the deficit in first-half stoppage time.
After Damien McCrory was adjudged to have fouled Brown just outside the box, the Millers exacted retribution when Newell’s floated free-kick found Wood at the far post and although McLaughlin showed superb reflexes to keep out his point-blank header, Adeyemi was on-hand to tap home into the unguarded net.
However, the Millers’ joy almost proved short lived as Akins shrugged off the attentions of his marker to clip a superb centre which saw Tom Naylor look a certain scorer but the visiting midfielder was unable to control his header as he missed the target from just yards out.
Half-time- Rotherham United 1 Burton Albion 2
The visitors caught the home side cold at the start of the second half when Akins skipped to the by line to float a cross which found Dyer on the far post and the visiting winger flashed an effort narrowly over the home bar before O’Grady volleyed over from Dyer’s cross, in the Brewers’ next attack, following Wood’s initial error.
In the Millers’ first foray of the half, Ward’s deft flick paved the way for Brown to give Forde a glimpse of goal but the ex-Walsall winger fired a tame effort straight down the throat of McLaughlin.
Just before the hour mark, the Millers’ had a let off when O’Grady headed straight at Price following good work by Irvine before Newell and Mattock again combined superbly in the left channel to give Ward an opportunity to strike and the Millers top-scorer turned smartly to drill a low effort from the edge of the box which had McLaughlin at full stretch to keep the ball out.
Moments later, Brown’s ball over the top paved the way for Fisher, who looked decidedly offside, to drill a cross which neither Adeyemi or Ward could meet but the ball looped into the path of Forde, who fired over from a promising position on the edge of the box.
Minutes later, O’Grady headed over from Naylor’s cross before fine one-touch football involving Frecklington gave Brown the opportunity to advance menacingly into the box but from an acute angle and with a host of visiting defenders between him and the goal, the Chelsea loanee was unable to trouble the target as he screwed his effort wide.
With the game in the balance, Brown and Ward caused havoc in the Burton box and a misplaced header from a visiting defender gave Fisher the chance to strike goalwards but he fluffed his lines with a hurried effort which blazed into the visiting faithful behind the goal.
Palmer became the latest to be cautioned for taking a quick free-kick before the referee’s whistle before Peter Odemwingie almost made an immediate impression from the bench when he ghosted in from the right flank to fire a fierce effort which stung the palms of McLaughlin.
The Nigerian international was in the thick of the action and McCrory took one for the team for hauling him over near the touchline before he foraged hard on the edge of the box to give Brown the opportunity to drill a cross-cum-shot which shaved the visitors’ upright.
Time was running out for the hosts and after Fisher was felled on the edge of the box, Odemwingie tried his luck from the resultant free-kick but McLaughlin was his equal with a smart save on his own line.
In the dying minutes, Ward was yellow-carded as he cynically attempted to halt a Burton counter before sub Barker’s first contribution was join him in the book for tripping Frecklington.
Despite a late rally from the home side, the Staffordshire side successfully ran down the clock to claim victory.
Full-time- Rotherham United 1 Burton Albion 2
Rotherham United 1
Burton Albion 2
Teams:- Rotherham- Price, Mattock (Blackstock 85), Wood, Forde (Odemwingie 67), Frecklington, D Ward, Fisher, Newell, Adeyemi (Halford 79), Belaïd, Brown. Unused- Bilboe, Kelly, Broadfoot, Taylor.
Burton- McLaughlin, Brayford (Flanagan 46), Mousinho, McFadzean, O’Grady (Harness 72), Akins, Dyer, McCrory, Naylor, Palmer (Barker 90), Irvine. Unused- Bywater, Williamson, Beavon, J Ward.
Referee- T Harrington
Attendance- 9806 (775).