Millers defeated b Latics...
DAVID Ball’s first league goal for the Millers proved scant consolation for Paul Warne’s men as Wigan Athletic ran out 3-1 victors at the AESSEAL New York Stadium.
Northern Ireland international Will Grigg headed the visitors ahead before Ball’s superb effort from the edge of the box, soon after, levelled matters.
However, Alex Bruce’s acrobatic effort and Michael Jacobs strike, either side of the break, saw Paul Cook’s promotion-chasing side earn the Roses spoils.
Following their narrow defeat at the hands of ShrewsburyTown last time out, Millers chief Warne reshuffled his pack for the visit of the high-flying Latics.
Slovakian ‘keeper Marek Rodak was recalled between the sticks while Michael Ihiekwe returned at the heart of the Millers defence following suspension.
Influential skipper Lee Frecklington made his first start since early October while Anthony Forde and Ball were given an opportunity to impress with the latter asked to ply his trade just behind in-form striker Kieffer Moore in a 4-4-1-1 formation.
The Millers had the first opportunity of note when Shaun Cummings cut inside on his weaker left-foot to float a delicate centre which had Wigan ‘keeper Jamie Jones in two minds as Moore was the first to the cross but the Ipswich loanee could not keep his header down as it ballooned over the bar.
At the other end, Rodak was caught flapping at Max Power’s corner before the pressure was eased on the home side when Lee Evans’ overhit his centre, in the next phase of play.
Moments later, Ryan Colclough was tripped by Joe Mattock on the edge of the box and from the resultant free-kick, Power curled a delightful centre when looked inch-perfect for Grigg, just yards out, but a retreating defender managed to nip in front of him to snuff out the danger.
Minutes later, a long ball forward saw Ihiekwe in a foot race with Jacobs, whereby the Tranmere defender appeared to get man and ball in a sliding tackle, but the referee penalised the home defender, and the moment proved crucial as the visitors broke the deadlock from the resultant free-kick.
Evans fizzed a free-kick into the danger area and Grigg showed fleet of foot to get a yard on his marker and glance the ball into the heart of the Rotherham goal from point-blank range giving Rodak no chance.
However, Wigan’s joy proved short-lived as Rotherham equalised within minutes of the restart.
A long punt forward saw Moore flick the ball into the path of Ball, who got the ball under his spell before dropping the shoulder to work a shooting position and he made it count with a superb curling dipping effort, from the edge of the box, which beat the acrobatic dive of Jones to nestle in the far corner of the net.
The Millers were buoyed by the equaliser and Forde had a snap shot deflected into the side netting before Ihiekwe headed wide from the resultant corner. At the other end, Colclough blasted over from a promising position before the home side were indebted to Mattock for diverting former Millers loanee Reece James’ tantalising centre to safety, at the far post.
Minutes later, Rodak was in the thick of the action when he denied Colclough with a parried save before showing quick feet to scramble across his line to prevent Chey Dunkley from heading home, from close range, just seconds later.
However, Wigan were not to be denied and just moments after, Frecklington headed clear from his own line, the ball was planted back into the Millers box and Bruce, with his back to goal, showed fantastic skill to pop the ball up into the air before acrobatically turning the ball towards goal and Rodak could not keep it out despite getting a hand to his effort as it found the home net via the post.
The Millers responded positively to the setback and Towell flicked wide at the near post before the Brighton playmaker latched onto Cummings’ floated ball over the top to race clear, in the home next attack, but he fluffed his lines when his cross evaded the array of home runners in the six-yard box.
With half time approaching, Frecklington was penalised for hauling back Grigg but Wigan failed to make the home side pay from the resultant free-kick when Jacobs fired into the home fans behind the goal.
In the last action of the half, Richard Wood joined Ihiekwe in the book for a foul on Jacobs.
Half-time- Rotherham United 1 Wigan Athletic 2
Following the restart, Towell became the next to see yellow for a lunge on Byrne before Wood may have been fortunate to escape sanction for bundling over Colclough in the box, but the referee waved away Athletic appeals for a spot kick.
Moments later, Power showed the Millers rearguard a clean pair of heels to fire a rasping effort which fizzed narrowly over the bar before the home crowd were baying for blood when Dunkley’s scissor tackle on Moore left him grounded, but the referee opted for a yellow card.
Just before the hour mark, Moore’s knockdown paved the way for Frecklington to volley goalwards but Dunkley, arguably with the use of an arm, blocked his shot en-route to goal.
However, Wigan took a firm grip on the game, just seconds later, when Ihiekwe failed to deal with a long ball forward and Grigg pounced on his error to bear down on goal and although Rodak stood up tall to prevent Grigg rounding him to plant the ball into an empty net, the ball was relayed into the path of the onrushing Jacobs, who kept his nerve to drill a low effort which flew past a number of retreating defenders and Rodak to find the heart of the Millers goal.
The Millers replied to the setback with gusto and Moore headed into the side netting from Frecklington’s hook into the box before sub Ryan Williams skipped to the by line to fire a deflected cross which was gathered by Jones.
Wigan came close to adding a fourth when firstly Colclough showed good pace and skill to dig out a cross which had Rodak backtracking nervously before he clawed the ball to safety before Jacobs waltzed into the box to fire a dangerous cross-cum-shot which whistled across the home goal.
With time running out for the home side, Forde planted a free-kick narrowly over the bar after Ball was felled on the edge of the box before the Irishman latched onto a loose ball in the box, moments later, but his tame effort was straight down the throat of Jones.
In the dying minutes, sub Ivan Toney almost rubbed salt into home wounds when he headed narrowly wide from James’ centre before Rotherham squandered a chance to halve the deficit, late on, when Wood came agonisingly close to tapping home at the far post, following Frecklington’s hoick into the box, but the Rotherham centre-half failed to make a telling connection.
In the last action of note, Frecklington volleyed wide of the target from an inviting position, as Wigan returned over the Pennines with the three points.
Full-time- Rotherham United 1 Wigan Athletic 3
Teams:- Rotherham- Rodak, Mattock, Wood, Forde, Frecklington, D Ball (Yates 81), Potter (Vaulks 75), Towell (Williams 61), Ihiekwe, Moore, Cummings. Unused- O’Donnell, Ajayi, Clarke-Harris, Newell.
Wigan- Jones, Byrne, Morsy, Power, Evans, Grigg (Toney 79), Bruce, Jacobs (Roberts 90), Dunkley, James, Colclough (Massey 83). Unused- Sarkic, Elder, Perkins, Thomas.
Referee- S Stockbridge
Attendance- 8443 (946)