Millers dealt harsh blow by stoppage time equaliser...
JACK Marriott’s last-gasp equaliser for Peterborough United denied the Millers, a much-needed win in their push for the League One play-offs, after Caolan Lavery’s first goal in Rotherham colours looked set to give them the three points.
In an enthralling encounter at a soggy AESSEAL New York Stadium, Lavery’s second-half strike put the Millers ahead but their joy soon turned to despair when Peterborough claimed a share of the spoils as Marriott pounced, in second-half stoppage time.
Following their defeat at the hands of Southend United last time out, Warne made three changes to his starting line-up for the visit of the Posh.
Marek Rodak returned between the sticks following his stint with Slovakia’s Under-21’s while former Peterborough midfielder Joe Newell and Anthony Forde were recalled to the starting eleven, at the expense of Jon Taylor and Ryan Williams, who had to settle for substitutes berths.
Prior to the kick-off, Evans and assistant Paul Raynor were given a generous hand by the home fans, on their return to the AESSEAL New York Stadium dugout – with the play-off chasing visitors.
Following a tentative start by both teams, the Millers squandered a gilt-edged chance to open the scoring on seven minutes when they turned defence into attack, in the blink of an eye, and David Ball, showed great awareness to control a ball into the channel to plant a clever reverse pass into the path of Forde, who showed Liam Shephard, a clean pair of heels to bare down on the visitors goal but Conor O’Malley was quick off his line to block his goalbound effort, at point-blank range.
Moments later, Forde turned creator with a clipped pass into the path of Richie Towell, who dinked the ball into the air before firing a dipping volley, from an acute angle, which narrowly cleared the Posh crossbar before League One top-scorer Jack Marriott showed his class, by evading the attentions of Vaulks before working a yard of space on Semi Ajayi, but the Nigerian centre-half produced a superbly timed tackle to prevent the Posh hot-shot shooting goalwards.
The game had sprung to life and after the visitors failed to clear decisively, Michael Smith looked to work a shooting position in the box, before being upended, but the ball rolled tantalising into the path of Joe Mattock, who struck goalwards forcing a smart save from O’Malley, who palmed the ball to safety.
Minutes later, Rotherham probed around the visitors box and Matt Palmer cut inside on his weaker right-foot to deliver a delicious centre which almost caught Andrew Hughes napping at the far post, as Ball looked to turn the ball goalwards but the former Posh striker could not control his effort, as it ballooned over the bar before Newell became the next to drill a free-kick into the box which was met by the head of Ajayi, who looped an effort which had O’Malley backtracking nervously, as it hit the top of the visitors goal.
The Millers were looking the most likely and Newell fizzed another centre which was smartly diffused by Ryan Tafazolli, with little margin for error, in his own six-yard box, for the Posh centre-half before Marriott almost broke away, in a rare visitors foray, but Ajayi won the battle of wills with the ex-Luton forward.
Moments later, Josh Emmanuel did superbly to pull the ball back, near the by-line, but Smith blazed over from a promising position before Tafazolli rose highest in meeting Maddison’s corner, to power a point-blank header towards the Millers goal but Rodak was perfectly positioned to snuff out the danger.
In the next phase of play, the Millers were indebted to Rodak for keeping the scores level when Maddison clipped a lovely ball over the top of the Rotherham rearguard and the lively Marriott ghosted under the radar, to get the ball under his spell before drilling a low effort, on the turn, which was saved by the feet of the Slovakian stopper.
With half time approaching, Newell showed fleet of foot to waltz into the Posh box but Tafazolli bravely blocked his low shot en-route to goal before Rodak was forced to punch Maddison’s dangerous corner, from underneath his own crossbar, in the last noteworthy action of the half.
Half-time- Rotherham United 0 Peterborough United 0
With heavy rain greeting the players, early in the second half, Forde delivered a centre which saw Smith arch his neck to loop a header into the grateful hands of O’Malley before Emmanuel’s delicate cross looked inch-perfect for Towell, at the back post, but the Irishman’s downward header was blocked by Shephard, at close range.
Minutes later, good work from Newell and Mattock in the build-up paved the way for Towell to try his luck with a swerving effort from distance which whistled narrowly over the visitors bar before Ball tried an impish chip, from the edge of the box, which was plucked out of the sky by O’Malley, in the Millers’ next attack.
Just before the hour mark, Tafazolli became the first to see yellow for a late sliding tackle on Forde, near the touchline, and the ex-Walsall winger almost exacted retribution, soon after, with a hanging cross which was met by Newell, at the far post, but the home playmaker could not control his volley, as it dribbled harmlessly wide of the target.
Sub Lavery had the perfect chance to crown his introduction to the proceedings when Newell’s cross was deflected by Steven Taylor into the path of the Sheffield United loanee, but he fluffed his lines with a dribbled effort, which failed to trouble O’Malley into the Posh goal.
Moments later, Towell’s menacing run ended with a long-range effort which flew into the thousand-strong Posh following behind the goal before Rotherham deservedly took the lead on 69 minutes when Forde delivered a tantalising free-kick into the danger area and Anthony Grant, in attempting to clear, arguably with the use of the arm, could only direct the ball into the path of Lavery, who made amends for his earlier miss – with a composed finish, which flew past a host of visiting defenders and a helpless O’Malley, en-route to goal.
Visiting frustration boiled over when Maddison became the next to see yellow, presumably for dissent, before Smith came close to doubling the home side’s lead, firstly, when Newell’s slide-rule pass presented Forde with the chance to clip a delicate cross which was inch-perfect for the tall frontman, but O’Malley showed good reflexes to keep the ball out with a finger-tip save, before Smith latched onto the pieces in the box, following the breakdown of a home corner, but he could only blaze over from an inviting position.
In a rare attack from the visitors, Marriott made something out of nothing to emerge from a tussle with a couple of home defenders before unleashing a rasping effort, from distance, which was arrowing into the top-corner of the home net until Rodak’s superb acrobatic intervention kept the ball out.
At the other end, Smith’s clever footwork gave Newell the chance to strike, but his fizzed effort whistled harmlessly wide of the target before Towell had to be on his toes to divert Shephard’s downward header to safety, following Maddison’s corner.
In six minutes of stoppage time, Smith was cautioned for illegally halting the taking of Peterborough free-kick before the visitors dramatically grabbed an equaliser in the dying minutes when a threaded ball was latched upon by sub Junior Morais, who pulled the ball back into the path of Marriott, who showed his predatory instincts to divert the ball into the heart of the Rotherham goal giving Rodak no chance.
Full-time- Rotherham United 1 Peterborough United 1
Teams:- Rotherham- Rodak, Emmanuel, Mattock (Ihiekwe 84), Vaulks, Ajayi, Forde, Palmer, Ball (Lavery 60), Towell (Williams 90), Newell, Smith. Unused- Price, Wood, J Taylor, Yates.
Peterborough- O’Malley, Shephard, Hughes, Tafazolli (Freestone 73), Forrester, Lloyd (Ward 56), Maddison, Marriott, S Taylor, Cooper (Morais 51), Grant. Unused- Bond, Da Silva Lopes, Doughty, Anderson.
Referee- S Oldham
Attendance- 9573 (1240)