Millers suffer late defeat....
JAK McCourt’s late winner saw Chesterfield earn a narrow victory at the expense of Rotherham United- although Millers’ chief Paul Warne will have been heartened by the senior debuts of academy duo Akeem Hinds and Ben Wiles.
Diego De Girolamo put the Spireites ahead early on before Will Vaulks levelled matters following a much improved Millers second half display.
However, with ABBA penalties looming, McCourt struck to give the Derbyshire outfit maximum points and leave the Millers’ empty-handed.
Warne rang the changes for their Checkatrade Trophy clash as Richard O’Donnell returned between the sticks with Semi Ajayi named at the heart of the home rearguard alongside Emmanuel Onariase, who was making his first start for the club. Academy prospect Hinds was given an opportunity to make his mark at first-team level with Alex Bray handed his first start in Millers colours, infront of him.
Jonson Clarke-Harris and Jerry Yates formed a new-look Millers strike force with four academy youngsters being part of the home bench alongside the likes of David Ball, Joe Mattock and Joe Newell.
The Millers had the first sight of goal when Anthony Forde’s free-kick was only half cleared by the Chesterfield defence into the path of Richie Towell, who executed a controlled volley from distance but the ball fell harmlessly wide of the target.
Moments later, Jerry Yates almost latched onto a home flick on but Joe Anyon was quick off his line to snuff out the danger before Chesterfield broke the deadlock on 10 minutes when a long ball forward ricocheted into the path of De Girolamo, who showed fleet of foot to dart between a flat-footed home defence and the ex-Sheffield United midfielder kept his nerve to lob the stranded O’Donnell as the ball bounced into the heart of the home goal.
The Millers responded positively to the early setback and former striker Chris O’Grady was forced to head clear in his own six-yard box before Hinds tried his luck with a low drive from long range which was blocked en-route to goal.
De Girolamo turned from scorer to creator when his slide-rule pass gave O’Grady, a glimpse of goal and the widely-travelled frontman stung the palms of O’Donnell with a skimming drive from the edge of the box.
At the other end, Forde cut inside with menace to curl an effort which was blocked bravely by Ian Evatt before McCourt showed good awareness to cut out Hinds’ dangerous cross at the near post, in the next phase of play.
Half-time:- Rotherham United 0 Chesterfield 1
Youngster Wiles was introduced at the interval for his senior Millers debut at the expense of Towell and Chesterfield had the first sight of goal in the second stanza when McCourt latched onto a loose ball to fire a rasping effort from distance which flew harmlessly over the Millers bar.
Wiles was quick to find his feet in the game and he showed his promise with a smart turn and left-footed drive from long range which flashed wide before Vaulks floated a delicate cross into the danger area and Clarke-Harris rose highest to plant a header which narrowly cleared the visitors bar.
Wiles was in the thick of the action and he injected pace into a home move to give Clarke-Harris the opportunity to strike and the ex-Oldham striker toe-poked an effort which forced Anyon into a sharp, reflex save before Wiles pounced on the rebound but the teenager was crowded out by a number of retreating defenders before he could get his shot away.
Just past the hour mark, Warne made a double substitution with Newell and Ball entering the fray and the changes seemed to temporarily spark the Millers into life although Evatt had the next chance when his cross-cum-shot struck Onariase as it fizzed across the Millers six-yard box.
Moments later, sub Jordan Sinnott took aim from distance with a fierce drive which had O’Donnell scrambling across goal as it shaved the Millers upright before the home side levelled matters with 18 minutes remaining when Emmanuel cut inside to float an inviting centre which was met by Newell, at the far post, and the ex-Peterborough midfielder showed great awareness to pick out the advancing run of Vaulks, who had the simple task of tapping home from close range, before giving the AESSEAL New York Stadium faithful another demonstration of his trademark summersault celebration.
The Millers were lifted by the equaliser and they came within a coat of paint of taking the lead when Vaulks’ through ball released Yates, whose clever reverse pass saw Ball race clear and the ex-Fleetwood striker got the ball from under his feet to curl a delightful effort which flew inches wide of the target.
With the game in the balance, sub Kristian Dennis worked a yard of space on Ajayi before firing a rising effort which failed to trouble O’Donnell in the home goal before Chesterfield grabbed the winner, with penalties looming, when Jordan Flores’ flashed cross saw McCourt, ghost away from the Millers’ backline, to glance a header into the corner of the home goal.
Full-time- Rotherham United 1 Chesterfield 2
Rotherham United 1
Teams:- Rotherham- O’Donnell, Emmanuel, Vaulks, Ajayi, Forde, Towell (Wiles 46), Clarke-Harris (David Ball 65), Yates, Bray (Newell 64), Onariase, Hinds. Unused- Bilboe, Mattock, Kayode, Murr.
Chesterfield- Anyon, Wiseman, Evatt, O’Grady, Rowley (Sinnott 57), De Girolamo (Dennis 71), Flores, Kellett, McCourt, Barry, Weir. Unused- Jones, Mitchell, Dennis, Ugwu.
Referee- D Handley
Attendance- 2043 (227)