Moore's winner gives Millers home win...
KIEFFER Moore’s ninth goal of the season proved the difference as Rotherham United earned their fourth home win on the spin at the expense of Northampton Town.
In an enthralling opening period, the Millers were denied the breakthrough by two goal line clearances while centre-half Michael Ihiekwe struck the woodwork but Rotherham finally breached Northampton defences, early in the second half, when Moore was the quickest to react after Matt Ingham denied Shaun Cummings to tap home the all-important winner.
Following their midweek defeat at the hands of Blackburn Rovers, Millers chief Paul Warne reshuffled his pack for the visit of Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink’s side.
Two of the three changes were in the full-back berths with Joe Mattock and Cummings recalled to the starting line-up, at the expense of Will Vaulks and Ben Purrington, who suffered a hamstring injury at Ewood Park.
Richie Towell was given an opportunity to impress behind in-form striker Moore while Millers Wembley hero Alex Revell was given a fantastic ovation from the AESSEAL New York Stadium faithful on his latest return to his former club.
The visitors were quick out of the blocks and Marek Rodak was on-hand to snuff out Dean Bowditch’s dangerous centre before the Slovakian was forced to scramble across goal as George Smith latched onto a weak home clearance to drill a half-volley which whistled narrowly past the home upright.
In the Millers first foray of note, Moore rose highest to meet Mattock’s hanging centre to power a downward header which Aaron Pierre was forced to hack clear with Ingram failing to take charge before the home side were indebted to Cummings for a timely block from Smith’s goalbound effort following Daniel Powell’s incisive run and cross.
The Millers came within a whisker of the opener when Moore caused havoc in the Town defence and Towell latched onto the loose ball to clip a delicate ball over the top and Moore, who had beaten the offside trap, rounded Ingram, but from a tight angle, the Ipswich loanee attempted to squeeze the ball in at the near post but Ash Taylor came out of nowhere with a miraculous recovery to turn his effort around the post.
From the resultant corner, Ryan Williams planted a dangerous centre which fell invitingly for Moore, who volleyed goalwards but a combination of Ingram and Pierre bravely kept the ball out from close range before Joe Newell was the next to pick out the Millers frontman, from the next home corner, but Moore could not keep his point-blank header down as it cleared the crossbar.
Despite Moore’s best efforts, Northampton almost grabbed the opener against the run of play when Rotherham failed to deal with a long punt forward and Powell showed the home rearguard a quick pair of heels to bear down on the home goal, but he fluffed his lines when he dragged his effort harmlessly wide of the target.
Moments later, Revell was the quickest to react from Smith’s left-wing cross but the former Miller could not direct his header goalwards before Moore again threatened the Town goal when he out-jumped Pierre but Ingram was well-stationed to gather on his own goal line.
In the Millers next attack, Matt Grimes was forced to blast clear as Mattock’s stooping header looked to be sneaking in at the near post before the Millers came within a coat of paint of the breakthrough when Towell floated a delicate centre which was controlled superbly by Moore and the Ipswich loanee, in attempting to work a shooting position, saw the ball ricochet into the path of Ihiekwe, who calmly stroked the ball goalwards but Ingram pulled off a top-drawer save to tip his effort onto the woodwork, before the ball was diverted to safety.
The visitors’ goal was living a charmed life and Moore’s slide-rule pass gave Lee Frecklington a glimpse of goal and the Millers skipper stung the palms of Ingram with a snap effort from just inside the box before Williams embarked on a mazy run, which left Grimes and David Buchanan in his wake, as he curled a left-footed effort which forced Ingram into another sprawled save.
Moore was proving a handful for the Town defence and Pierre’s frustration boiled over with a clumsy tackle on the home striker and Rotherham almost exacted retribution from Newell’s resultant free-kick, when his drilled through ball evaded the attentions of Moore but Ihiekwe showed good awareness to shoot goalwards from a tight angle and despite Ingram being in no man’s land, Brandan Moloney was on-hand to divert the ball to safety with another goal line clearance.
Half-time- Rotherham United 0 Northampton Town 0
Following the interval, the Cobblers had the first sight of goal when Bowditch took aim from distance but Rodak got his body behind his long-range effort before Mattock was on-hand with a timely tackle to prevent Powell from breaking clear, just moments later.
However, it was the Millers, who took a grip on the game by grabbing the opener, just seven minutes into the half, when the home side’s raid down the right flank ended when Cummings fired a snap effort which Ingram, in the rain-soaked conditions, attempted to parry to safety, but the ball struck Taylor and bounced fortunately into the path of Moore, who made no mistake to tap home from close range.
Moments later, a fine flowing home move involving Frecklington paved the way for Williams to fire an effort which was straight down the throat of Ingham before Moore beat the visitors offside trap to strike from distance but Taylor came out of nowhere with a fine block.
Moore was a man on a mission and Taylor again came to Town’s rescue with another block as the Millers striker threatened the visitors goal before Williams was put in the clear thanks to a lovely threaded ball but the ball skipped off the wet AESSEAL New York Stadium surface as Ingram was able to smother the ball at the Australian’s feet before he could get his shot away.
In a rare Cobblers foray, Rotherham were caught napping following a visitors corner and Powell’s skimming effort forced Rodak into a smart save at his near post before Regan Poole had an effort deflected behind, just moments later.
The visitors were building up a head of steam and sub Billy Waters got the ball from under his feet to strike a rasping effort which took a slight deflection as it narrowly cleared the home crossbar before Grimes cut in from the byline to fire a dipping effort which had Rodak nervously looking over his shoulder as it fizzed just inches wide of the target.
Minutes later, Cummings clipped ball over the top was taken superbly in his stride by Ihiekwe, who beared down on the Town goal but his tame effort was smartly gathered by Ingram before Rotherham failed to clear the danger, at the other end, and Bowditch looked set to test Rodak before Mattock’s superb intervention.
With the game in the balance, Ihiekwe put his body on the line to deny Grimes before Rotherham sprang a quick counter and Frecklington’s pass saw Towell get on the wrong side of Buchanan in the box but the Town full-back recovered superbly to block his goalbound effort.
Moments later, Rotherham came within a whisker of sealing the deal when Newell swung over a tantalising corner which saw Moore emerge from the masse of bodies in the box to power a superb header which smashed against the crossbar with Ingram beaten before Darren Potter took one for the team by nudging over Waters in full flow.
Minutes later, Newell’s threaded ball saw sub Jonson Clarke-Harris break clear and despite the attempts of Buchanan to get in a tackle, the Rotherham striker fired a left-footed effort which forced Ingram into a tipped save as it cannoned into the side netting before Moloney’s clearance ricocheted off Frecklington, as the ball looped narrowly over the Cobblers goal.
In a frenetic final few minutes, sub Vaulks failed to ease home nerves when he slashed at goal after being put clear but Paul Warne’s men successfully ran down the clock to claim the three points.
Full-time- Rotherham United 1 Northampton Town 0
Rotherham United 1
Northampton Town 0
Teams:- Rotherham- Rodak, Mattock, Wood, Frecklington (Ajayi 90), Potter, Towell (Vaulks 90), Ihiekwe, Newell, Williams, Moore (Clarke-Harris 81), Cummings. Unused- O’Donnell, Emmanuel, Forde, Yates.
Northampton- Ingham, Moloney, Buchanan, Taylor, Revell, Powell (Richards 84), Bowditch, Pierre, Smith (Waters 59), Poole, Grimes. Unused- Cornell, Kasim, Barnett, Foley, Hanley.
Referee- T Kettle
Attendance- 8073 (566)