Millers prevail in Yorkshire derby...
ROTHERHAM UNITED earned the White Rose bragging rights following a hard fought 2-0 victory over play-off rivals Bradford City at the AESSEAL New York Stadium.
Goals either side of the interval from Michael Smith and Joe Newell proved the difference as Paul Warne’s side extended their unbeaten run to nine games, at the expense of the Bantams, to move into sixth position in the League One standings.
Following their last-gasp victory over Portsmouth at the weekend, Millers chief Paul Warne rewarded Smith and Newell for their impressive substitute cameos against Pompey, by handing the duo starting berths, at the expense of Ryan Williams and Jerry Yates.
Smith was handed in his first full start in Millers colours while there were a couple of familiar faces in the Bantams line-up – with Nicky Law and Paul Taylor facing their former employers.
The Millers had the first sight of goal when a fine tackle on halfway by Will Vaulks paved the way for Anthony Forde to swing a delightful centre which was met by the head of Smith, but his looping header was straight down the throat of Rouven Sattelmaier.
In Bradford’s first foray of note, the Millers fans had their hearts in their mouths when Callum Guy swung an innocuous cross from the right flank which appeared to catch Marek Rodak out, at his near post, as he could only help the ball into his own net but the Slovakian’s blushes were spared, by an earlier flag from the assistant referee.
In a lively opening period, the Millers squandered an opportunity to break the deadlock when Josh Emmanuel’s marauding run split open the Bantams defence to present David Ball with the chance to float a centre which was inch-perfect for the unmarked Smith, on the edge of the six-yard box, but the ex-Bury striker could only direct his point-blank header into the grateful arms of Sattelmaier.
Minutes later, Romain Vincelot tried his luck from distance but his ambitious effort flew into the home faithful behind the goal before fine work from Law saw Taylor jink past the attentions of Richard Wood to clip a left-footed effort towards goal but Rodak was well-stationed to snuff out the danger.
Just after the quarter hour, Bradford purposely worked their way from the back to give Law, the chance to drive hard at the Rotherham defence before firing a rasping effort from distance which whistled past the home upright.
Despite the visitors’ promptings, it was Rotherham, who gained the upper hand when Guy was penalised for clumsily bundling over Newell near the touchline.
The home side made the visitors pay from the resultant free-kick when Forde curled a delightful centre into the danger area and Smith emerged from the ruck of bodies to direct a header into the heart of the visitors’ goal from point-blank range giving Sattelmaier little chance to react.
Stuart McCall’s men responded positively to the setback and Taylor latched onto a loose ball to embark on a mazy run which ended with a fizzed effort that shaved the home crossbar before Smith’s instinctive volley, from just outside the box, stung the palms of Sattelmaier, at the other end.
A defensive mix-up involving Vincelot and Matt Kilgallon, under pressure from Ball, almost ended in tears for the Bantams before Newell fired a tantalising centre which bizarrely evaded the attentions of both sets of players in the visitors box.
Moments later, Emmanuel squandered possession far too easily and Bradford worked a shooting position whereby Timothee Dieng curled a cross-cum-shot, which had Rodak nervously scurrying across goal, as it fizzed narrowly wide.
Half-time- Rotherham United 1 Bradford City 0
Following the interval, Newell screwed a long range effort harmlessly wide of the target before Taylor fired a snap shot, which Rodak gathered at the second attempt, before the same player blazed over, in the next phase of play.
Taylor was having a personal duel with Rodak and following Vincelot’s lay-off, the former Millers’ loanee swung an effort, from just outside the box, which seemed to swerve in the air forcing the home ‘keeper to punch clear.
At the other end, Smith narrowly failed to get Newell’s inviting through ball under his spell before the Millers took a firm grip on the game, by doubling their advantage, just shy of the hour mark.
With Bradford short of numbers, Mattock presented Richie Towell, who was on the overlap, with the chance to hang a cross to the far stick which saw Smith tower above his marker to power a header which brought a superb, reflex save from Sattelmaier, but fortunately, for the Millers, Newell was on hand and despite having his back to goal, the home midfielder reacted quickest to drive the ball home.
The home side were sensing the opportunity and both sub Jerry Yates and Newell were crowded out before they could get their shots away before Forde fired a long range effort which failed to trouble Sattelmaier, in the visitors’ goal.
Moments later, another excellent delivery from Newell saw Smith ghost away from his marker but the tall frontman, who was off-balance, was unable to direct his header towards goal.
In stoppage time, sub Jon Taylor was unceremoniously bundled over by Nathaniel Knight-Percival on the edge of the box and from the resultant free-kick, Vaulks came close to adding a third when he smashed a piledriver which grazed the angle of the Bradford goal before Vaulks turned creator to put sub Jonson Clarke-Harris in the clear but Sattelmaier stood up tall to block his clipped effort.
Full-time- Rotherham United 2 Bradford City 0
Teams:- Rotherham- Rodak, Emmanuel, Mattock, Vaulks, Ajayi, Wood, Forde, Ball (Yates 66), Towell, Newell (J Taylor 83), Smith (Clarke-Harris 79) Unused- Price, Ihiekwe, Williams, Cummings.
Bradford- Sattelmaier, Reeves (McCartan 46), Kilgallon, Vincelot (Gilliead 61), Law, Dieng, Wyke, Taylor (Poleon 72), Guy, Knight-Percival, Robinson. Unused- Raeder, Thompson, Chicksen, Devine.
Referee- D Drysdale
Attendance- 8904 (1586)