Millers earn well-earned point....
ROTHERHAM United earned a valuable point in their push for the League One play-offs following a hard-working performance at promotion chasing Wigan Athletic.
The Millers started brightly in Lancashire – with Michael Smith almost breaking the deadlock in the first sixty seconds before Ryan Williams brought a fine save from Christian Walton.
The home side gradually grew into the game but a resolute defensive performance from the Millers, either side of the break, saw the visitors return over the Pennines with a well-earned share of the spoils.
Following their hard fought victory over Fleetwood Town, Millers chief Paul Warne reshuffled his pack for the trip to the League One high-flyers.
Josh Emmanuel was recalled in the right-back slot while Ben Purrington kept his place on the opposite flank. Michael Ihiekwe returned to the heart of the Rotherham rearguard, partnering last week’s match winner Richard Wood, as Semi Ajayi had to settle for a substitutes’ berth.
Warne reverted to a five-man midfield at the DW Stadium with Williams and Jon Taylor asked to provide the ammunition to lone frontman Smith.
The Millers were quick of the blocks and they almost stunned the home faithful within the first minute when Taylor sneaked around the back to deliver a hanging centre which Williams bundled into the path of Smith, who looked a certain scorer, but Chey Dunkley threw his body, in the way of his goalbound effort and the ball tantalising spun narrowly wide of the target.
Minutes later, Taylor dug out a cross which saw Smith nip in front of Dunkley to glance a long range header harmlessly wide before Nick Powell had Wigan’s first effort of note, as he met Max Power’s free-kick but he was unable to direct his header goalwards.
The Millers were looking the most likely in the early stages and Emmanuel injected pace into a visitors move to put the home side on the backfoot and following Richie Towell’s interjection, Williams darted away from his marker before unleashing an effort – with his weaker left-foot, which brought an acrobatic save from Walton before a whistle released the pressure on the hosts, as Will Vaulks looked to turn home the rebound.
Minutes later, Wigan came within a whisker of the opener when Powell’s headed knock-on put the in-form Will Grigg in the clear and although Marek Rodak was quick off his line to block his initial effort, the Northern Ireland international attempted to turn the ball home, at the second attempt, but his hooked effort from a tight angle flew inches wide of the unguarded visitors goal.
Moments later, Ihiekwe was harshly adjudged to have felled Grigg in an inviting position but Max Power fluffed his lines with the resultant free-kick, as his rising effort blazed into the Millers faithful behind the goal before Gavin Massey latched onto Wood’s headed clearance to volley over, in the next home attack.
Just before the half-hour mark, Wigan spread the play to great effect and Nathan Bryne’s incisive cross paved the way for Grigg, to nod goalwards, but despite Rodak nervously scurrying across his goal, the ball flew narrowly wide of the upright.
Minutes later, Bryne became the first to see yellow for a trip on Williams in full flow before Emmanuel soon joined his in the book, for back-to-back infringements on Michael Jacobs.
In a flurry of yellow cards, Vaulks was cautioned for an innocuous tussle with Powell on halfway in the last noteworthy action of the half.
Half-time- Wigan Athletic 0 Rotherham United 0
At the start of the second half, the Millers were indebted to Ihiekwe for a timely tackle in the box to halt the run of Jacobs, after good work by Massey in the build-up before Rodak was forced to pluck sub Gary Roberts’ dangerous cross out of the sky, minutes later.
The Millers fans had their hearts in their mouths when a backtracking Wood had to make a last-ditch headed intervention to divert Roberts’ centre to safety
Just before the hour mark, Vaulks’ punt upfield almost fell kindly for a rampaging Smith, who looked to be pulled-back, before he was crowded out by a retreating defender.
With the game in the balance, Massey squandered a half-chance when he ghosted into the Rotherham box to fizz an effort well wide of the target before Callum Elder skipped down the touchline before attempting to find the near post run of Gregg, but a timely last-ditch tackle from a visitors defender kept the ball out.
In a rare Millers foray, Williams’ timely run and pass gave Taylor a glimpse of goal but Dunkley prevented the flying winger striking goalwards with a timely tackle before Williams volleyed wide, from the resultant corner.
At the other end, sub James Vaughan’s deft flick presented Roberts with the opportunity to strike but Rodak guessed his intentions with a smothered save to his left.
The large Millers travelling contingent were almost on the feet when Wigan failed to clear their lines and Williams skipped past the challenge of Byrne before unleashing a fierce effort from just outside the box which shaved the home upright.
With time running out for both sides, Jacobs latched onto Vaughan’s clever knockdown, but the home winger toe-poked an effort over – despite having the goal at his mercy.
Moments later, Rotherham had a strong case for a spot-kick when Dan Burn appeared to have handled into the box but the referee waved away visiting protests before Byrne almost in avertedly hacked the ball into his own goal, in the next phase of play.
In a late Rotherham rally, Taylor then blasted an effort over from distance before Burn illegally hauled down Smith but Matt Palmer’s free-kick into the danger area was scrambled to safety by the home side.
In stoppage time, Wigan missed a gilt-edged chance to snatch victory when Ihiekwe became the latest player to be cautioned for hauling over sub Ryan Colclough and from Roberts’ resultant free-kick, Jacobs rose highest to head back into the danger area but Vaughan sent his effort over when it looked easier to score.
Full-time- Wigan Athletic 0 Rotherham United 0
Wigan Athletic 0
Rotherham United 0
Teams:- Wigan- Walton, Byrne, Elder, Morsy, Power, Grigg (Colclough 83), Massey (Vaughan 72), Jacobs, Dunkley, Powell (Roberts 46), Burn. Unused- Jones, Perkins, Walker, Bruce.
Rotherham- Rodak, Emmanuel, Vaulks, Wood, Palmer, Taylor, Towell (Forde 78), Purrington, Ihiekwe, Williams, Smith. Unused- Price, Ajayi, Ball, Yates, Cummings, Lavery.
Referee:- C Sarginson