Read a full report from Rotherham United's friendly with Sheffield United...
ROTHERHAM UNITED suffered the first defeat of their pre-season campaign as Sheffield United earned the South Yorkshire bragging rights with a narrow friendly victory at the AESSEAL New York Stadium.
Following an even first half, Chris Basham’s cross-cum-shot was deflected into his own goal by home debutant Michael Ihiekwe before Enda Stevens doubled the Blades advantage.
Youngster Jerry Yates gave the Millers hope in the dying minutes but Chris Wilder’s men held on for victory.
The home faithful got their first glimpse of five summer recruits in the Millers starting line-up.
Ipswich loanee Josh Emmanuel was given an opportunity in the right-back berth while former Tranmere centre-half Ihiekwe partnered Semi Ajayi at the heart of the home rearguard.
Experienced midfielder Darren Potter was asked to control affairs in the Millers engine room while there was a new look strike force on show as playmaker David Ball was named alongside Kieffer Moore.
The Millers had the first sight of goal when Moore was bundled over by Richard Stearman in an inviting position and from the resultant free-kick, Jon Taylor swung over a whipped centre which saw Semi Ajayi emerge from the ruck of bodies to threaten the visitors goal but the Nigerian centre-half was unable to make a telling connection as the ball fizzed narrowly wide of the target.
Moments later, Joe Mattock released Taylor, who got a yard on his marker to drill a cross which was snuffed out at full stretch by Blades ‘keeper Simon Moore before the Blades came within a whisker of the opener, in their first foray of note, when Samir Carruthers’ slide-rule ball put Leon Clarke, in the clear and although the Blades frontman dinked an effort over the advancing Richard O’Donnell, the ball narrowly cleared the Millers crossbar.
Minutes later, Carruthers was again the architect as he drove hard from the Millers midfield to give Daniel Lafferty, a glimpse of goal, and the former Rotherham loanee smashed a left-footed effort, which brought the best out of O’Donnell, who parried the ball to safety.
The game swung end to end in the space of a minute when good work from skipper Lee Frecklington saw David Ball work a shooting position on the edge of the box to test sub ‘keeper Jake Eastwood with a low effort before Kieron Freeman’s perfectly-weighted pass saw Blades hitman Billy Sharp nip infront of O’Donnell, but his cross-cum-shot failed to trouble the Millers goal.
Just past the half-hour mark, Mattock’s scuffed clearance saw Taylor show the Blades midfield a clean pair of heels, as he raced away, but his low shot from the edge of the box was deflected behind before Moore rose highest to meet Taylor’s resultant corner but Eastwood plucked his goalbound header out of sky with a minimum of fuss.
Moments later, Sharp showed his attacking instincts when he made something out of nothing to toe-poke goalwards from the edge of the box but his effort failed to trouble O’Donnell.
In the next phase of play, John Fleck’s floated effort had O’Donnell backtracking nervously as it sailed narrowly over before Freckington got the better of Lafferty to pave the way for Will Vaulks to strike goalwards but another former Millers loanee Jack O’Connell put his body on the line to block the ball en-route to goal.
In the last noteworthy action of the half, Mattock headed over after Vaulks had a shot blocked before Ajayi glanced a header wide from Taylor’s corner.
Half-time- Rotherham United 0 Sheffield United 0
With Lewis Price replacing O’Donnell between the Millers sticks at half-time, the ex-Owls ‘keeper was called into action almost immediately when ping-pong in the home box led to O’Connell heading goalwards from point-blank range, but Price flung himself across goal to superbly keep the ball out, against all the odds.
Moments later, Fleck’s free-kick into the box had the Millers at sixes and sevens before Chris Basham fluffed his lines as he blasted over with the goal at his mercy.
In the Millers’ first attack of the second half, Frecklington’s sliding tackle saw Vaulks try his luck from distance as the ball skimmed off the immaculate AESSEAL New York Stadium surface forcing Eastwood into a smart, parried save.
Eastwood was in the thick of the action and Moore and Ball, combined superbly to split open the Blades defence, leaving the former with just the Blades ‘keeper to beat, but Eastwood won the battle of wills to smartly deny the Ipswich loanee.
Some fine one-touch passing from the Blades put the Millers on the backfoot before the ball sat up nicely for Carruthers, to strike a rasping effort which had Price nervously flying across goal, as it shaved the angle of the home goal.
Minutes later, Caolan Lavery teased and tormented Ajayi before cutting inside to unleash an effort which stung the palms of Price before the visitors took the lead on
68 minutes when the highly-rated David Brooks played in Basham, who struck an effort across goal and Ihiekwe, in attempting to clear, could only deflect the ball into his own net with the Millers ‘keeper helpless.
In the aftermath of the goal, Millers chief Paul Warne replaced all ten outfield players and with the replacements still finding their feet, the Blades sealed the deal with a second goal with just under ten minutes remaining when a clipped ball over the top was not marshalled well by sub Darnell Fisher and Enda Stevens pounced on the hesitancy to poke the ball past Price as it dribbled into the heart of the home goal.
However, the Millers refused to throw in the towel and they got themselves on the scoresheet with four minutes to go when Ben Purrington got to the byline before picking out the on-rushing Jerry Yates, who kept his composure to drill a left-footed effort which arched away from Eastwood as it found the visitors goal via the foot of the post.
Full-time- Rotherham United 1 Sheffield United 2
Rotherham United 1
Sheffield United 2
Teams:- Rotherham- O’Donnell (Price 46), Emmanuel (Fisher 68), Mattock (Purrington 68), Vaulks (Newell 68), Ajayi (Wood 68), Frecklington (Bray 68), David Ball (Clarke-Harris 68), Taylor (Forde 68), Potter (Dominic Ball 68), Ihiekwe (Belaid 68), K Moore (Yates 68).
Sheffield United- S Moore (Eastwood 15), Fleck, O’Connell, Basham, Clarke (Duffy 78), Sharp (Lavery 46), Coutts, Freeman, Stearman (Wright 65), Lafferty (Stevens 65), Carruthers (Brooks 65). Unused- Thomas, Slater.
Referee- J Moss
Attendance- 7396 (3674)