Towell's late winner gives Millers' back-to-back wins...
RICHIE Towell made himself an instant hero with the Millers faithful as his late strike earned Rotherham United back-to-back victories following a five-goal thriller with Bury.
The Brighton loanee latched onto a long ball forward to power home from the edge of the box with just minutes remaining after Jermaine Beckford and Nathan Cameron had cancelled out Kieffer Moore’s fifth and sixth goals of the season, either side of the interval.
Following their impressive away day victory at Portsmouth last weekend, Millers chief Paul Warne made just one change to his starting line-up for the visit of the Shakers.
Slovakian Under 21 international ‘keeper Marek Rodak was given an opportunity to impress between the Millers sticks following his season-long loan move from Fulham while Warne kept faith with his 4-1-4-1 system, which was employed to great effect at Fratton Park, as the likes of Ben Purrington, Richard Wood and Shaun Cummings were rewarded with another start following their defensive shut out on the south coast.
The visitors had the first sight of goal when Josh Laurent and Harry Bunn superbly exchanged passes to pave the way for the latter to advance towards the Rotherham box before Will Vaulks’ attempted clearance ricocheted off Rohan Ince as the ball flew narrowly wide of the home goal.
Vaulks was in the thick of the early action and after Bury failed to clear their lines, the ex-Falkirk midfielder fired a skimming drive from just outside the box which forced Joe Murphy into a smart, smothered save before Moore nodded harmlessly wide of the target from Taylor’s corner, in the next phase of play.
Michael Ihiekwe showed great reading of the game with a timely intervention to prevent Beckford racing clear before Bury failed to deal with Taylor’s free-kick, at the other end, and skipper Lee Frecklington put the ball back into the danger area where Richard Wood fired a snap shot from point-blank range which stung the palms of Murphy.
Moments later, the Shakers were indebted to Murphy for keeping the Millers at bay with a superb one-handed save as Williams hacked at fresh air initially before getting another bite of the cherry with a fierce half-volley, from the edge of the box, which was arrowing into the roof of the net before Murphy’s heroics in the visitors goal.
The Millers were looking the most likely and Moore almost capitalised on Greg Leigh’s error to slide towards goal and although Murphy was quick off his line to block his effort, any goal would have been ruled out for offside.
Vaulks was the next to test the visitors’ keeper with a flick towards goal after Wood caused havoc in the Shakers defence but once again, Murphy was on-hand to deny the Millers before Rodak was called into action for the first time when Beckford tried his luck from distance but the young ‘keeper was well-positioned to snuff out the danger.
However, Rotherham got the better of Murphy, as they were finally rewarded for their early superiority by taking the lead on 20 minutes.
Vaulks’ arrowed ball over the top saw Moore get on the wrong side of Alex Whitmore, to firstly put the ball under his spell by plucking the ball out of the sky before the Ipswich loanee showed great composure to slide the ball past the advancing Murphy, to find the heart of the visitors goal.
Just past the half-hour mark, the Millers came within a whisker of doubling their advantage when Frecklington got the better of Laurent before embarking on a trademark lung-bursting run to put Taylor in the clear, who broke the offside trap, and with Murphy racing from his line, the ex-Peterborough winger rounded the visitors’ keeper but from the tightest of angles, he could only fire into the side netting.
However, the home side were punished for their miss almost immediately when Bury levelled matters.
Ryan Lowe did superbly to dig out a cross and fellow strike partner Beckford showed all his experience to ghost in between two defenders to powerfully head home from six yards giving Rodak no chance.
The Millers responded superbly to the setback and the ever-dangerous Taylor raced clear and with the Bury rearguard slow to respond, his timely slide-rule pass gave Frecklington a glimpse of goal whereby the home skipper fired a dipping effort which narrowly cleared the visitors crossbar.
Just prior to the interval, Warne was forced into a reshuffle as Cummings unable to continue following treatment and Vaulks was asked to fill the right-back berth with the AESSEAL New York Stadium faithful getting their first glimpse of Towell, who was asked to play just behind Moore.
In a late flurry from the home side prior to the break, Frecklington had a snap shot deflected behind following Moore’s neat touch before Towell drilled an effort which was bravely blocked en-route to goal by Ince.
Half-time:- Rotherham United 1 Bury 1
Following the interval, Nathan Cameron became the first to see yellow for kicking the ball away as Rotherham attempted to take a quick throw-in before Rotherham took a firm grip on the game, by regaining the lead nine minutes into the half.
There looked little danger while Frecklington and Potter played keep ball near the touchline but Vaulks clipped a ball over the Bury rearguard and Taylor, who seemingly mis-controlled at first, floated a cross to the far stick which saw Moore power a downward header which beat the outstretched hand of Murphy to double his and his team’s tally for the afternoon.
With Moore off for the pitch following a head injury, the Millers had Wood to thank for a brave block after Beckford took aim from the edge of the box before Taylor fizzed a free-kick from a tight angle which had Murphy flying across goal as it fizzed narrowly wide of the target.
The Millers squandered an opportunity to add a third goal when Whitmore’s mis-hit clearance was pounced upon by Williams, as Frecklington added to Whitmore’s woes by ghosting past him to burst into the box but the talismanic midfielder arguably chose the wrong option as he fired a cross-cum-shot harmlessly wide- with Moore et al waiting for a tap-in, on the edge of the six-yard box.
Moments later, Rotherham were again punished for the inability to kill off the visitors when a long punt into the box was met by the head of sub Michael Smith, who flicked on into the path of Cameron, who looked decidedly offside, but the Bury centre-half kept his nerve to head into the corner of the home net.
The Lancastrians were buoyed by their second equaliser and Ince’s timely pass gave sub Mihai Dobre the opportunity to strike a low effort but Rodak got his body behind his shot.
The Millers soon regained their composure and Williams’ shrugged off the attentions of two defenders to fire an effort which was deflected behind by Cameron before Moore failed to get a clean connection as his pea-roller from the edge of the box was straight down the throat of Murphy.
With the game in the balance, Rotherham turned defence into attack in the blink of an eye and sub Anthony Forde tried his luck from the edge of the box and with the ball arching towards goal, Whitmore came out of nowhere to head clear and preserve parity.
However, Rotherham took the lead for the third and decisive time when Rodak punted a ball forward and with no Bury defender taking charge, the ball was flicked on into the path of Towell, who calmly latched onto the ball on the edge of the box to stroke a low-effort which whistled past the outstretched hand of Murphy to nestle into the bottom corner of the visitors net.
Full-time:- Rotherham United 3 Bury 2
Rotherham United 3
Teams:- Rotherham- Rodak, Vaulks, Wood, Frecklington (David Ball 85), Taylor, Potter, Purrington, Ihiekwe, R Williams (Forde 76), Moore, Cummings (Towell 40). Unused- O’Donnell, Mattock, Yates, Newell.
Bury- Murphy, Leigh, Beckford, J Williams (Dobre 56), Edwards, Laurent, Whitmore, Cameron, Ince, Bunn, Lowe (Smith 60). Unused- Fasan, Maguire, Reilly, Aldred, Cooney.
Referee- C Sarginson
Attendance- 7848 (574)