Millers edged out by City on spot kicks...
ROTHERHAM United began their Checkatrade Trophy campaign on a losing note as Manchester City Under 21s edged the AESSEAL New York Stadium affair on spot kicks, following a last-gasp equaliser.
David Ball grabbed his first competitive goal in Millers colours to put Paul Warne’s side ahead but sub Benjamin Garre took the game to penalties, with a goal at the death.
In the resulting penalty shoot out, Will Vaulks and Jon Taylor had their efforts saved by Arijanet Muric as Rotherham had to settle for a point with Manchester City securing the extra bonus point.
Following their five-star display against Southend United at the weekend, Millers chief Warne rang the changes for their Checkatrade Trophy opener – with only ‘keeper Richard O’Donnell retained from the Shrimpers starting line-up.
New signing Shaun Cummings was handed his Millers debut in the right back slot while Richard Wood and Dominic Ball formed a new centre-back partnership, as Ben Purrington was named at left-back.
Wingers Taylor and Anthony Forde were asked to provide the ammunition to an offensive Millers line-up with Jonson Clarke-Harris, Jerry Yates and David Ball occupying the forward positions.
Following a slow start by both sides, the Millers had the first sight of goal when Clarke-Harris tried his luck from distance but his effort was deflected wide by Charlie Oliver.
From the resultant corner, Wood rose highest to plant a header which was blocked and Dominic Ball looked to stab the ball goalwards but Oliver bravely threw his body in the way of his shot.
Ball was in the thick of the early action and the Millers were indebted to the centre-half’s timely block to deny Lukas Nmecha following a smart turn and shot from the visiting forward.
At the other end, Cummings strode down the right flank to deliver a whipped centre which saw Taylor head harmlessly wide of the target before the Millers had a scare when Matthew Smith’s eye-of-a-needle pass paved the way for Lorenzo Gonzalez to calmly dink the ball over the advancing O’Donnell into the unguarded Millers net, but any City joy was curtailed by the offside flag.
Moments later, Will Vaulks clipped pass to the flank presented Cummings with the opportunity to swing a tantalising centre which saw Clarke-Harris tower above his marker to plant a downward header which forced Arijanet Muric into a smart, reflex save before Forde’s curling effort from distance had Muric backtracking nervously, as it narrowly cleared the City crossbar.
Just before the half hour mark, City launched a lightning counter-attack and Nmecha worked a yard of space on Ball to fire into the side netting from an acute angle before Taylor stung the palms of Muric with a stinging drive from distance, at the other end.
Half-time- Rotherham United 0 Manchester City U21 0
Following the break, Vaulks became the first to see yellow for pulling the shirt of a City opponent before Clarke-Harris was quick to latch onto a defensive error from the visitors to drill a low effort from the edge of the box, which forced Muric into a superb, full length save.
Moments later, there looked little danger for the visitors until Vaulks took aim from long-range and his thunderbolt flew past Muric before smashing against the top of the City crossbar before bouncing to safety.
Just before the hour mark, Taylor’s mazy run from the touchline presented Vaulks with another chance to strike from distance, but the ex-Falkirk midfielder dragged his shot well wide of the target.
Moments later, David Ball got the better of a duel with Joel Latibeaudiere to fire a rasping effort from the edge of the box which was diffused by Muric with a smart catch.
However, the ex-Manchester City striker was not to be denied as, just minutes later, he grabbed his first competitive goal for the Millers following his summer move from Fleetwood.
The Millers turned defence into attack in the blink of an eye before sub Alex Bray injected pace into the move to play a superb defensive splitting pass which was latched upon by Ball, who kept his nerve to slide the ball past the advancing Muric and into the bottom corner of the goal.
Minutes later, Latibeaudiere became the next to incur the wrath of the referee for a foul on the Millers goalscorer before Clarke-Harris’ marauding run from deep ended with a low drive, which had Muric scurrying across goal, as it flashed narrowly wide of the target.
The Millers were looking the most likely and Clarke-Harris had a header blocked in the box before Taylor’s drilled effort was smothered smartly by Muric.
Fine work from Bray and Vaulks gave Taylor another glimpse of goal but he failed to trouble Muric with a low effort.
The home side came within a whisker of sealing the deal when Ball won the battle of wills with Latibeaudiere to advance into the box and play an unselfish slide-rule
pass with took Muric out of the equation- to leave Bray with the simple task of tapping home but Smith came out of nowhere with a superb goal saving block to keep his side in the game.
Moments later, Clarke-Harris blazed an effort over before Muric kept out Taylor’s deft back heel following good work by Vaulks.
In the last ten minutes, City had a late rally as Nmecha fired a free kick which sailed narrowly over the bar before sub Rabbi Matondo dragged a cross-cum-shot across the face of the home goal.
Moments later, Matondo forced O’Donnell into a smart save before Vaulks stung the palms of Muric.
However, City took the game to spot kicks when good work from Nmecha paved the way for sub Benjamin Garre to thread a low shot from the edge of the box, which flew past the outstretched hand of O’Donnell to find the bottom corner of the home net.
Full-time- Rotherham United 1 Manchester City U21 1
0-1 Nmecha- scored
0-1 Vaulks- saved
0-1 Taylor- saved
0-2 Smith- scored
0-3 Richards- scored
1-3 Forde- scored
2-3 Clarke-Harris- scored
2-3 Davenport- missed
2-4 Oliver- scored
Rotherham United 1
Manchester City U21 1
Manchester City U21 won 4-2 on penalties.
Teams:- Rotherham- O’Donnell, Vaulks, Wood, Forde, David Ball (Kayode 84), Taylor, Dominic Ball, Purrington, Clarke-Harris, Yates (Bray 57), Cummings. Unused- Bilboe, Hinds, Murr, McGinley.
Manchester City U21- Muric, Nmecha, Dilrosun, Duhaney (Matondo 75), Latibeaudiere, Smith, Dele-Bashiru (Richards 70), Francis, Gonzalez (Garre 62), Davenport. Unused- Haug, Wilson, Matondo.
Referee- A Backhouse
Attendance- 2562 (353)