Millers slip to home league defeat.....
ROTHERHAM United tasted defeat in their home league opener against newly-promoted Lincoln City, as goals either side of the interval put pay to their chances.
Paul Warne’s side were on top for the majority of the first half but they found themselves trailing at the break as Shaun MacDonald unluckily put through his own goal before Harry Anderson doubled the Imps lead, just minutes into the second 45.
Following their late opening day victory over AFC Wimbledon, Warne retained the same starting line-up for the home league opener with Joe Mattock, Kyle Vassell and Dan Barlaser shrugging off knocks to take their place.
There were a couple of familiar faces in the Imps starting eleven with one-time Millers loanee Harry Toffolo named at left-back while Michael O’Connor returned to his former stomping ground, in the visitors midfield. However, there was no place for Millers legend Lee Frecklington, who was not part of Lincoln’s 18-man squad.
The Millers had the first sight of goal in the early seconds when Jack Payne’s errant pass saw Vassell strike a fierce effort, from a tight angle, which blazed harmlessly over before Matt Crooks rose highest to meet Barlaser’s inswinging centre, moments later, but the home midfielder could not control his header, as it flew over the visitors bar.
Minutes later, Lincoln failed to clear their lines decisively and Matt Olosunde latched onto the pieces to flash a right-footed effort from distance which had Josh Vickers nervously scurrying across goal, as it whistled just wide.
Just past the quarter hour, Olosunde was harshly cautioned for a late clip on Toffolo near the touchline before Joe Morrell soon joined him in the book for a high tackle on Barlaser.
The Millers were looking the most likely and Barlaser’s measured pass upfield paved the way for Freddie Ladapo to work a yard of space on Toffolo following a piece of skill before firing a left-footed effort which had Vickers acrobatically flying across goal, as it shaved the visitors’ crossbar.
Just before the hour mark, Barlaser floated a delicate centre which caused havoc in the Lincoln box but Vassell was unable to turn the ball home from close range before Ladapo hooked over, under pressure from an Imps defender, following a well-worked corner routine.
Moments later, Joe Mattock’s slide-rule pass saw Crooks race away from his marker before striking an effort which stung the palms of Vickers, who gathered at the second attempt before Robertson’s incisive pass saw Ladapo demonstrate his quick feet to give Michael Smith, a sight of goal, but he was crowded out before he could get his shot away.
Despite their first-half dominance, the Millers found themselves trailing at the interval when a well-worked free-kick caught the home defence on their heels and Tyler Walker was the grateful recipient to burst into the box before drilling a cross-cum-shot across the face of the goalmouth and Shaun MacDonald, in attempting to clear could only deflect the ball into his own goal.
Warne’s side responded positively to the setback and Smith latched onto a ball at the back post, but he could not get the ball from under his feet, before his close range shot was blocked before Daniel Iversen was called into action for the first time to smother Walker’s goalbound header following good work by Jack Payne, near the by-line.
In the last noteworthy action of the half, Mattock blasted wastefully into the home faithful behind the goal following Barlaser’s quickly-taken free-kick.
Half-time- Rotherham United 0 Lincoln City 1
The Millers were quick out of the blocks at the start of the second half and after Olosunde and Payne clashed, Mattock swung a tantalising centre which was inch-perfect for the run of MacDonald, who almost atoned for his own goal, by powering a header towards goal but Vickers showed good reflexes to keep the ball out.
However, Lincoln doubled their lead just four minutes into the second half when Grant’s corner into the danger area saw Harry Anderson emerge from the ruck of bodies in the box, almost noticed, to power a header from point-blank range into the heart of the Millers goal giving Iversen no chance.
Rotherham frustration boiled over when Crooks was yellow carded for a mistimed sliding lunge on Anderson before Warne made a double substitution, just shy of the hour mark, introducing Carlton Morris and Ben Wiles, in an attempt to spark the Millers to life.
Vassell became the next to see yellow for a high challenge on Cian Bolger before good work from Robertson presented Ladapo with the chance to race goalwards but his shot was blocked on the edge of the box by two Lincoln defenders.
The Millers were looking for a foothold back in the match and Crooks blasted over from a promising position before Toffolo was yellow-carded for deliberating over a throw-in.
Ladapo failed to make the most of an opening by firing into the grateful arms of Vickers before MacDonald was cautioned for cynically hailing back Payne, to halt a Lincoln counter-attack.
With time running out for the hosts, sub Jamie Proctor was upended by Bruno Andrade on the edge of the box but Morris failed to make it count with a poor free-kick which sailed into the noisy Lincoln travelling continent behind the goal.
The Millers were denied an opportunity for a late rally when Mattock’s corner was met sweetly by the head of Robertson, who powered an effort towards the Imps goal but Michael Bostwick bravely headed over, from underneath his own crossbar.
In the dying minutes, Crooks was snuffed out before his could get his shot away before Vickers pulled off a top draw save to deny Proctor, who looked well set to give Rotherham a lifeline with a powerful header from Mattock’s cross.
Lincoln almost added gloss onto the scoreline, late on, when Andrade forced a near post save from Iversen following a lung-bursting run before Robertson had to stick out a timely leg to deny Payne.
Full-time- Rotherham United 0 Lincoln City 2
Rotherham United 0
Lincoln City 2
Teams- Rotherham- Iversen, Mattock, MacDonald, Vassell (Proctor 65), Ladapo, Barlaser (Wiles 57), Robertson, Crooks, Ihiekwe, Olosunde, Smith (Morris 57). Unused- Price, Wood, Lindsay, Cooper.
Lincoln- Vickers, Toffolo, O’Connor (Chapman 90), Bolger, Payne, Bostwick, Walker (Akinde 77), Grant (Andrade 71), Morrell, Eardley, Anderson. Unused- Smith, Adebayo-Smith, Bradley, Lewis.
Referee- L Swabey
Attendance- 10706 (2320)