Millers fall to late Payne winner..
STEFAN Payne’s late winner earned table topping Shrewsbury Town a 2-1 victory over Rotherham United after Richie Towell’s equaliser looked set to give Paul Warne’s men a share of the spoils.
Following Kieffer Moore’s early penalty miss, Jon Nolan fired Paul Hurst’s men ahead in the first half. Shrews skipper Abu Ogogo then saw red for an over-the-top challenge on Shaun Cummings before Towell levelled matters with his third goal of the season.
With the game heading for a draw, Shrewsbury headed back down south with the three points when Stefan Payne lashed home from close range.
Following the dramatic draw with Doncaster Rovers, in their last outing, Millers boss Warne made three changes to his starting line-up for the visit of the Shrews.
Joe Mattock and Cummings returned to the full back berths, following suspension and injury, respectively, while Towell was rewarded for his impressive substitute cameo at the Keepmoat, by being recalled to the home line-up, as Jon Taylor missed out on the opportunity to face his former employers because of injury.
The Millers had the first sight of goal when Ryan Williams injected pace into a home move from the right flank being felled and from the resultant free-kick, Towell clipped a delicate centre which was met by the head of Will Vaulks, but his effort lobbed invitingly into the hands of Dean Henderson before Shaun Whalley skipped to the byline, for the visitors, to play an inviting centre which was only half-cleared by a retreating home defender into the path of Alex Rodman, who shot goalwards but his effort dribbled harmlessly wide of the target.
Moments later, following the breakdown of a Rotherham corner, Vaulks headed the ball back to the corner-taker Joe Newell, who floated a delicate cross-cum-shot which had Henderson backtracking nervously, as it narrowly cleared the Shrews crossbar before the Millers had the perfect opportunity to break the deadlock on 13 minutes when they were awarded a spot-kick.
There looked little danger for the visitors until a cross was floated into the danger area by Cummings and Towell, in looking to get the ball under his spell, was unceremoniously bundled over by Aristote Nsiala in the box and the referee had no hesitation in pointing to the spot.
From the resultant spot-kick, Kieffer Moore calmly strode to the penalty spot to stroke an effort which was arrowing into the bottom corner of the net but Henderson superbly guessed his intentions, by diving to his left, before parrying the ball to safety- to the anguish of the AESSEAL New York Stadium faithful.
Salt was rubbed into home wounds when Shrewsbury opened the scoring, just minutes later, when Rodman’s inside pass was taken in his stride by Jon Nolan, who showed the Millers defence a clean pair of heels before striking a fierce left-footed effort from a narrow angle which beat the outstretched hand of Richard O’Donnell to find the bottom corner of the home goal.
The visitors were lifted by the breakthrough and Mattock was fortunate to escape sanction for a clumsy foul on Whalley on the edge of the box but the Shrews winger almost exacted retribution, from the resultant free-kick, as he latched onto Williams’ weak clearance to ghost past Newell to fire a rasping effort from an acute angle but O’Donnell stood up tall at his near post, to palm the ball away from goal.
Just past the half hour mark, Newell clipped a corner which saw Richard Wood rise highest to plant a downward header but Henderson showed fleet of foot to snuff out the danger with Towell lurking before Shrewsbury were lucky to come away from a goalmouth scramble unscathed with the Millers unable to turn the ball goalwards from close range following a melee in the box.
Moments later, Semi Ajayi’s hesitation almost put Whalley in the clear but the Millers defender recovered smartly to prevent him shooting goalwards before Omar Beckles headed over from Whalley’s corner, in the next phase of play.
In the last action of the half, Darren Potter latched onto a loose ball to give Towell, a glimpse of goal and the Brighton loanee forced Henderson into a smart stop, although any goal would have been ruled out for offside.
Half-time- Rotherham United 0 Shrewsbury Town 1
Following the break, Joe Riley’s errant back pass gave Moore the opportunity to nip in front of Henderson to poke the ball towards goal but the Manchester United loanee stood up tall to block his effort, almost at the striker’s feet.
In a whirlwind sixty seconds, Newell dangerous centre fizzed across the Shrews box before Williams’ hanging cross was plucked out of the sky by Henderson. The visitors ‘keeper then launched a long ball upfield when Stefan Payne got the better of Ajayi to play a slide-rule pass into the path of Nolan, who looked set to make it two, but he fluffed his lines by blazing the ball over the bar.
Minutes later, the Millers cause was helped when Shrewsbury were reduced to ten men when Cummings was the victim of a high challenge from Abu Ogogo and in the aftermath of the incident, the referee brandished a red card to the visiting skipper.
The game took another ugly turn for the worst when Wood and Nsiala clashed in the box following the breakdown of a Rotherham attack- in an incident which earned both players cautions before the Millers were indebted to Ajayi’s timely block to prevent Payne taking aim towards goal following good work by Whalley.
The Millers were struggling to make their numerical advantage count before Warne switched to three at the back with influential talisman Lee Frecklington entering the fray following a long spell on the sidelines.
The move paid dividends after Williams drove over the bar when the Millers levelled matters.
Play was switched to the left flank and Newell delivered a centre which was only half-cleared by a retreating visiting defender and the ball fell kindly for Towell on the edge of the box and the Irishman kept his nerve to drill a fierce effort which whistled into the Shrews net giving Henderson no chance.
Moments later, sub Jonson Clarke-Harris was felled over by Mat Sadler near the touchline and Newell swung an inviting centre which caught Henderson in no man’s land as the ball glanced off a visiting header to fizz narrowly wide before Clarke-Harris advanced with menace to take aim from distance but his wayward effort failed to trouble the visitors goal.
In a late flurry from the hosts, Moore was crowded out by a host of Shrews defenders before the visitors snatched victory in the most dramatic of circumstances. Following a handball shout in their own box, Shrewsbury turned defence into attack in the blink of an eye, before Ajayi gave away a needless corner.
In the next play, Whalley’s floated a centre into the danger area and former Millers loanee Carlton Morris nodded down into the path of Payne, who made no mistake to fire into the roof of the home net from close range.
Full-time- Rotherham United 1 Shrewsbury Town 2
Teams:- Rotherham- O’Donnell, Mattock, Vaulks, Ajayi, Wood (Frecklington 72), Potter, Towell, Newell, Williams (Forde 82), Moore, Cummings (Clarke-Harris 60). Unused- Rodak, Emmanuel, Ball, Wiles.
Shrewsbury- Henderson, Riley, Godfrey, Sadler, Beckles, Whalley (John-Lewis 90), Ogogo, Nolan, Nsiala, Rodman (C Morris 77), Payne. Unused- MacGillivray, Dodds, Gnahoua, Bolton, B Morris.
Referee- R Jones.
Attendance- 8184 (699)