Brave Millers bow out of Carabao Cup
ROTHERHAM United gave high-flying Huddersfield Town a huge scare by taking a first-half lead before the Premier League side booked their passage to the Carabao Cup third round.
Paul Warne’s men defied their two division gap for the majority of the evening in a superb display but two second half goals saw the West Yorkshiremen edge the White Rose clash by the skin of their teeth.
The Millers took the early initiative when Semi Ajayi headed home from Anthony Forde’s cross.
Despite the Millers being rarely troubled in the first half, David Wagner’s side turned the game on its head early in the second 45 when sub Philip Billing struck home a spot kick before Joe Lolley put the Terriers ahead.
However, the Millers twice came within a whisker of taking the game to added time when firstly sub Kieffer Moore was denied by a superb save from Joel Coleman before Will Vaulks had a header chalked off for an infringement in the box.
Following their narrow defeat at the hands of Peterborough United last time out, Millers chief Warne reshuffled his pack as only ‘keeper Richard O’Donnell, Ajayi and Jamie Proctor retained their starting berths from London Road.
For the short hop to the John Smith’s Stadium, Warne decided to utilise a 4-2-3-1 formation with Proctor plying a lone furrow upfront but the likes of David Ball, Forde and Jon Taylor were asked to provide the ammunition just behind in support.
The Millers were quick out of the blocks and they stunned the home faithful by taking the lead, as early as the second minute.
Collin Quaner conceded a corner following good work by Ben Purrington and from Jon Taylor’s resultant corner, the home side only half-cleared into the path of Purrington, who slid a pass to Forde and the ex-Walsall winger swung a tantalising cross into the box which caught Coleman flapping at thin air, as Ajayi emerged from the ruck of bodies to head into the unguarded net.
Moments later, Kasey Palmer stung the palms of O’Donnell with an effort from just outside the box before David Ball almost broke clear, at the other end, but he was crowded out by a host of home defenders.
Minutes later, the Millers were indebted to skipper Richard Wood for a timely sliding tackle to prevent Quaner shooting goalwards before a fine flowing move from the home side instigated by Scott Malone ended when Laurent Depoitre dragged a low effort wide, albeit via a visitors’ deflection.
In the next home attack, Michael Hefele’s acrobatic effort from close range failed to trouble the Rotherham goal before Proctor got the better of one-time Millers target Dean Whitehead to launch a four-on-three counter attack, but the move lost momentum with an errant pass and the chance was lost.
Just before the hour mark, Proctor was hauled over by Hefele and the visitors almost caught the home side napping with a quickly-taken free-kick as Taylor put Ball in the clear, but the Rotherham playmaker was denied the chance to bear down on goal by an offside flag.
Ajayi almost went from hero to villain when his back pass went astray but Wood spared his blushes by blocking Depoitre’s low shot from the edge of the box before Palmer latched onto the breakdown of a Millers corner to fire a dipping effort from distance which cleared the visitors crossbar.
Just before the break, Huddersfield came within a coat of paint of levelling matters when Lolley’s inviting corner was met by the head of home skipper Christopher Schindler but the German defender’s skimming header whistled past the far post.
Half-time:- Huddersfield Town 0 Rotherham United 1
Following the restart, David Ball came within inches of latching onto Hefele’s under hit backpass but Coleman snuffed out the danger with a timely clearance before Palmer tried his luck with an ambitious effort on the turn, at the other end, but O’Donnell was able to watch the ball fly over his bar.
Moments later, Quaner ghosted from the touchline with menace to drag a deflected effort which smashed into the side netting before Huddersfield got themselves back on level terms after a cross from the left flank saw Dominic Ball in an aerial duel with Depoitre and despite both players failing to make a connection, the referee pointed to the spot.
From the resultant penalty, sub Billing strode up confidently to strike a left-footed effort into the bottom corner of net giving O’Donnell, who dived the right way, no chance.
Minutes later, Huddersfield took the game by the scruff of the neck when Palmer injected pace into the move to thread a ball into Lolley in the box and the home midfielder got the ball from under his feet to strike a sweet left-footed effort into the heart of the visitors goal.
The Millers responded superbly to the double blow when they turned defence into attack with a blink of an eye. Taylor showed the home rearguard a clean pair of heels to slid an inviting cross across the face of goal as sub Kieffer Moore, looked a certain scorer at the far post but Coleman pulled off a miraculous recovery to keep the ball out.
Moments later, fellow sub Jonson Clarke-Harris almost made an immediate impression from the bench when he got on the wrong side of the home defence but he blazed an effort into the fans behind the goal before Jordan Williams denied the Millers frontman with a superb tackle, in the Millers next attack.
At the other end, Depoitre won a footrace with Wood to sting the palms of O’Donnell with a fierce effort before the Millers were agonisingly denied an equaliser when Forde swung a delightful free-kick in the box which saw Will Vaulks plant a downward header which beat the outstretched hand of Coleman to nestle in the bottom corner of the net, but any Rotherham joy was soon curtailed after the referee seemingly penalised Moore for a foul in the box.
In the dying minutes, Rotherham’s frustration boiled over when Purrington was yellow-carded for a foul on Billing before Hefele soon joined him in the book for dissent.
In stoppage time, the Millers squandered a couple of opportunities to level matters when firstly Moore made something out of nothing in the box to force Coleman into a reflex, parried save as Clarke-Harris fluffed his lines with the follow-up, by blazing wide with the goal at his mercy before Moore headed narrowly wide following a goalmouth scramble, in the dying seconds.
Full-time:- Huddersfield Town 2 Rotherham United 1
Huddersfield Town 2
Rotherham United 1
Teams:- Huddersfield- Coleman, Malone, Whitehead, Lolley (Ince 82), D Williams, Depoitre, Quaner, Schindler (Billing 46), J Williams, Hefele, Palmer (Kachunga 74). Unused- Lossl, Smith, Mounie, Zanka.
Rotherham- O’Donnell, Vaulks, Ajayi, Wood, Forde, Proctor (Moore 46), David Ball (Clarke-Harris 64), Taylor, Dominic Ball (Bray 81), Purrington, Cummings. Unused- Bilboe, Emmanuel, Mattock, R Williams.
Referee:- P Bankes
Attendance:- 8290 (796)