Millers suffer heavy loss....
ROTHERHAM United made the short hop from Pride Park Stadium empty-handed following a heavy defeat at the hands of play-off chasing Derby County.
A Martyn Waghorn brace either side of Bradley Johnson’s header gave Paul Warne’s side a mountain to climb at the interval before Mason Mount rubbed salt into Millers wounds with a fourth goal, early in the second half.
Skipper Richard Wood netted a Millers consolation with a fine header but Frank Lampard’s side added further goals thanks to Duane Holmes and Waghorn, who claimed his hat-trick – with a second penalty of the afternoon.
Warne was still without the services of Joe Mattock and Will Vaulks due to suspension while the Millers boss was dealt a blow, prior to kick-off, when striker Michael Smith was only deemed fit enough to take a place on the bench following a bout of illness.
The hosts had the first sight of goal when former Millers loanee Tom Lawrence embarked on an incisive run which was halted but Wood failed to deal with the danger on the edge of the box and Waghorn looked set to strike but he was crowded out by two retreating defenders before he could get his shot away.
At the other end, Ryan Williams launched a quick counter attack but his progress was curbed by a superb sliding challenge from Fikayo Tomori before Warne’s side came within a whisker of the opener when Joe Newell got on the wrong side of his marker to play a delicious ball across the face of goal which narrowly evaded the attentions of firstly Jerry Yates, who was making a rare start, and then Williams, at the far post, who would have had a tap-in, but in turn, the Australian needed lengthy treatment after colliding with the post.
Moments later, Mount’s weak clearance was latched upon by the returning Williams, who took aim from distance, but his low effort failed to trouble one-time Miller, Kelle Roos, in the home goal.
However, Derby were presented with the opportunity to open the scoring just before the quarter hour when they switched play to great effect and a threaded ball was superbly taken in his stride by Mount, who showed quick feet, just inside the box before being felled by the clumsy challenge of Wiles, and the referee had no hesitation in pointing to the spot.
Waghorn kept his nerve from the resultant penalty when he smashed a left-footed effort into the heart of the Rotherham goal – with Marek Rodak diving unsuccessfully to his right.
The home side were lifted by the breakthrough and they came close to doubling their advantage when firstly Scott Malone skipped down the touchline to deliver an inviting centre which fizzed across the Rotherham goalmouth but Harry Wilson could not control his stretched effort, at the far post, before Jayden Bogle sneaked around the back to deliver a superb cross-cum-shot which shaved the Rotherham upright.
Warne’s side were struggling to contain the home side and Lawrence showed his dancing feet to waltz into the box before firing a rasping effort which smashed into the side netting before a fine flowing move from the hosts saw Duane Holmes give Bogle, an opportunity to strike, but he fluffed his lines with a wayward effort from a promising position.
The Millers finally managed to clear their heads and after Newell’s free-kick was headed behind, the former Peterborough midfielder curled the resultant corner into the home box and Semi Ajayi emerged from the ruck of bodies to bundle the ball towards goal but a combination of Roos and a well-stationed home defender scrambled the ball clear from underneath their own crossbar.
However, Derby took a firm grip on the game, just shy of the break, when Malone delivered a tantalising left-footed cross which was inch-perfect for the run of Bradley Johnson, who had escaped the attentions of his marker, to plant a downward header which beat the outstretched hand of Rodak, to nestle into the far corner of the goal.
The Millers were on the ropes and Lawrence darted into the box but the Welsh striker elected to find Waghorn, rather than shooting with the goal, with the cross cut out before the home side effectively sealed the deal with a third goal, minutes later, when Bogle was the creator, this time, with a pin-perfect delivery into the danger area and Waghorn held off a Rotherham challenge to power a header into the corner of the visitors net.
In the last action of the half, Williams’ run to the edge of the box was abruptly halted by the clumsy challenge of Johnson and Newell curled the resultant free-kick around the Derby wall, but Roos correctly guessed his intentions to parry the ball to safety.
Half-time- Derby County 3 Rotherham United 0
Warne made a double substitution at the interval with Matt Crooks and Richie Towell introduced into the fray but the Millers failed to stem the Derby tide as Lampard’s side soon added a fourth goal.
Fine one-touch passing from the hosts put Bogle in the clear, and the home full-back kept his composure to slide a ball into the path of the returning Mount, who calmly slid the ball into the bottom corner of the net giving Rodak no chance.
The Slovakian stopper was in the firing line and he was called into action, once again, to deny Harry Wilson with a smart save, as the Liverpool loanee cut inside to fire a left-footed effort which was arrowing towards goal until Rodak’s timely intervention.
Despite the deficit, Rotherham refused to throw in the towel and they were rewarded for their efforts when Newell floated an inviting corner into the danger area and Wood emerged from the masse of bodies in the box to climb above his marker and power a header into the roof of the home net.
However, Derby kept their foot on the gas and they notched a fifth goal, just past the hour mark, when Wilson showed his speed to race down the line before clipping a cross which was nodded down by Mount into the path of Holmes, who steered a header into the corner of the net, from close range.
The Millers came close to troubling the scorers, for a second time, when Newell cleverly worked a shooting position to clip a delicate effort which beat Roos, before cannoned against the upright before Crooks failed to turn home the rebound as Jones was denied by the Dutch ‘keeper, in the aftermath.
However, Derby added gloss to the score line when a threaded ball was not dealt with Michael Ihiekwe and Lawrence pounced on the hesitation to nip in between the Millers defender and Rodak, who left out an outstretched hand to fell the home frontman, and the referee awarded the home side a second spot-kick.
Waghorn claimed the match ball from the resultant penalty when he calmly wrong footed Rodak, to find the opposite corner of the goal – with a fierce left-footed strike.
Full-time- Derby County 6 Rotherham United 1
Derby County 6
Rotherham United 1
Teams:- Derby- Roos, Tomori, Keogh, Wilson, Mount (Bennett 75), Waghorn (Marriott 81), Lawrence, Johnson, Holmes, Bogle, Malone (Cole 75). Unused- Carson, Wisdom, Bryson, Huddlestone.
Rotherham- Rodak, Vyner, Ajayi, Wood, Taylor (Towell 46), Ihiekwe, Yates (Forde 78), Newell, Williams, Wiles (Crooks 46), Jones. Unused- Price, Palmer, Smith, Kayode.
Referee- T Robinson
Attendance- 27003 (1420)