REPORT | Rotherham 0 v 1 Barnsley
ADAM Armstrong’s second-half strike proved decisive as Barnsley claimed the derby day honours by registering a narrow victory over the Millers at the AESSEAL New York Stadium.
In a fairly even first half, both sides had efforts denied by the woodwork with Armstrong clipping the crossbar for the visitors before Joe Mattock smashed a long range effort against the post.
After the break, Rotherham were looking the most likely winners but it was Barnsley, who secured the points when Armstrong slotted home with 20 minutes to go.
Following their defeat at the hands of promotion chasing Newcastle United in their last outing, Millers interim manager Paul Warne made just one change to his starting line-up for the visit of their local rivals.
Top-scorer Danny Ward was recalled to the home starting line-up as Tom Adeyemi was named amongst the substitutes, alongside recent signing Alex Bray, who joined the club on-loan from Swansea City, yesterday.
There were a couple of familiar faces in the Barnsley ranks as Aidy White lined up in the visitors’ defence while one time Millers loanee Adam Hammill was handed a substitutes berth.
The Millers were quick out of the blocks and after Anthony Forde forced an early corner, the ex-Walsall winger floated an inviting centre which saw Aïmen Belaïd rise highest to plant a looping header which narrowly cleared the visitors’ crossbar.
Moments later, Jon Taylor showed Gethin Jones a clean pair of heels to deliver a tantalising centre which was inches away from the advancing Danny Ward before Will Vaulks fizzed a half-volley across the Barnsley box which Jerry Yates attempted to head goalwards, but the Rotherham youngster was unable to make a clean connection.
In the Reds’ first foray of note, Josh Scowen’s pass paved the way for Ryan Kent to jink past the attentions of Darnell Fisher on the edge of the box to fire an effort which failed to trouble Richard O’Donnell, who was making his home debut between the sticks.
Minutes later, Yates’ deft flick was inch-perfect for Ward, who gave Taylor, a glimpse of goal but the retreating Angus MacDonald stuck out a timely leg to prevent the home winger from shooting goalwards.
Taylor was in the thick of the action and after stripping Jones on possession on halfway, the ex-Peterborough winger embarked on a powerful run which had the Barnsley defence backtracking nervously before Yates’ threaded ball saw Ward control the ball superbly in the box before stabbing a goalbound effort which struck MacDonald, en-route to goal.
On the quarter hour, Mattock became the first to see yellow before MacDonald’s punt forward was cleverly steered by Marley Watkins into the run of White, who advanced into the home box before dragging a low effort harmlessly wide of the target.
There was a moment of controversy when Kent got the better of Fisher, before the Rotherham full-back hacked the winger down, prompting an angry reaction from the Liverpool loanee, who appeared to raise his hands on the grounded Fisher, which saw him yellow-carded despite being awarded the initial free-kick.
Kent fired the resultant set-piece dangerously into the Rotherham box before Barnsley came within a coat of paint of the opener when an innocuous punt forward saw Armstrong get on the wrong side of substitute Stephen Kelly, who replaced the injured Belaïd just minutes earlier, before calmly lofting the ball over the advancing O’Donnell, who was caught in no man’s land, but fortunately for the home side, the ball clipped the top of the crossbar before falling to safety.
Just past the half hour mark, it was Barnsley’s turn to thank the upright for coming to their rescue as Rotherham cleverly switched the play to the left flank which paved the way for Mattock to weigh up his options before taking aim from distance with a fierce effort which had Adam Davies nervously scrambling across goal as the ball smacked against the outside of the post.
Minutes later, Barnsley failed to clear Vaulks’ long throw into the area and Richie Smallwood smashed an effort which was blocked on the edge of the box before Ward latched onto a ball over the top and after spotting Davies slightly off his line, the Rotherham hitman attempted a deft lob which had the Barnsley stopper nervously looking over his shoulder as it narrowly cleared the crossbar.
In the last action of the half, Barnsley skipper Marc Roberts fired a snap shot which was deflected over the bar.
Half-time- Rotherham United 0 Barnsley 0
The Millers had the first sight of goal at the start of the second half when Yates turned smartly on the edge of the box before firing a rising effort which flew into the home faithful behind the goal.
Minutes later, Ward made something out of nothing near the touchline and after exchanging passes with Forde in and around the Barnsley box, the Rotherham striker worked a yard of space to curl a superb left-footed effort which had Davies at full stretch to keep the ball out.
In a lively counter-attack from the visitors, Kent sped down the touchline before pulling the ball back into the path of Armstrong, whose first touch gave him the opportunity to strike a fierce effort which blazed narrowly wide of the target.
At the other end, Taylor led his marker a merry dance before firing a low effort from distance which stung the palms of Davies before good work from Taylor and Vaulks almost saw the ball fall kindly for Ward in the box but the Barnsley ‘keeper was quick off his line to snuff out the danger.
Moments later, Yates caught the Barnsley defence napping as he nipped in between two defenders to latch onto an inviting cross but his downward header was smartly gathered by Davies on his own goal line.
With the game in the balance, Barnsley notched the all-important winner with 20 minutes to when a perfectly-weighted pass from Kent saw Armstrong get on the wrong side of the Rotherham defence and the Newcastle loanee kept his nerve to slide the ball past O’Donnell to find the heart of the home goal.
The goal seemed to knock the stuffing out of the hosts and the Millers were indebted to Kelly after he bravely blocked Armstrong’s goalbound effort following a marauding run from Watkins and the highly-rated winger went from provider to finisher, in the Reds’ next attack, with a snap shot from a narrow angle which forced O’Donnell into a superb fingertip save to keep the ball out.
The Millers had a chance to level matters late on when Wood emerged from a ruck of bodies to meet Forde’s outswinging corner but he couldn’t keep his header down as it flew over the bar.
Full-time- Rotherham United 0 Barnsley 1
Rotherham United 0
Teams:- Rotherham- O’Donnell, Mattock, Vaulks, Wood, Forde (Bray 86), Ward, Taylor, Fisher (Allan 77), Belaïd (Kelly 25), Smallwood, Yates. Unused- Bilboe, Blackstock, Adeyemi, Warren
Barnsley- Davies, White (Evans 60), Roberts, MacDonald, Scowen, Watkins, Bradshaw, Jones, Armstrong, James, Kent (Hammill 87). Unused- Townsend, Moncur, Jackson, Payne, Williams.
Referee- K Stroud
Attendance- 11050 (2601).