Four-star Millers run riot.....
ROTHERHAM United gave their Sky Bet League One promotion hopes a timely boost with a handsome victory over fellow challengers Peterborough United in a pulsating AESSEAL New York Stadium Christmas cracker.
The Millers had the better of their first 45 without due reward but they ran riot in the second period when sub Richard Wood put them ahead before Daniel Butler and Joe Ward put through their own net, following initial efforts from Matt Crooks and Wood, once again, before Kyle Vassell acrobatically added a fourth, in the game’s last act.
The only blot on the Millers copybook was the sending-off of Joe Mattock following a clash with Ivan Toney with Frankie Kent also seeing red for the visitors, in a full-bloodied affair.
Following their nail-biting victory over Shrewsbury Town on Boxing Day, Millers boss Paul Warne kept faith with his starting line-up for the hosting of the Posh.
Mattock shrugged off an injury sustained at the New Meadow to take his place in the left-back slot. Adam Thompson was asked to ply his trade on the opposite flank with Matt Olosunde, once again, playing further forward, this time, on the left-hand side of midfield. Match winner Michael Smith had to be content with a place amongst the substitutes.
The home side had the first sight of goal when Clark Robertson’s delicate chip over the top paved the way for Chiedozie Ogbene to pull the ball back into the path of Thompson, who delivered an inviting centre which was met by the head of Morris, but the Norwich loanee could not keep his effort down, as it flew harmlessly over the bar.
Minutes later, Freddie Ladapo got the better of a tussle with Mark Beevers as Ogbene’s centre was blocked by Butler before Morris failed to make the most of the breakdown of the resultant Millers corner, when he miss-hit a cross straight out of play.
Morris was in the thick of the action and he made something out of nothing to dig out a cross but Ogbene fluffed his lines with he failed to make a clean connection, from a promising position, with his weaker left-foot, and the chance was lost.
In Posh’s first effort of note, Harrison Burrows slashed at an effort, from just outside the box, after Rotherham failed to clear the danger before Thompson expertly spotted Olosunde in space and the American flyer tried his luck from distance but Christy Pym was his equal with a fine save.
Just before the half-hour mark, Warne had to reshuffle his defensive resources as Robertson failed to shake off a knock picked up early in the game and Richard Wood was asked to take his place at the heart of the home rearguard.
Moments later, Ladapo had a glimpse of goal and he fired an instinctive effort which took a slight deflection off Butler before Dan Barlaser caressed a corner into the box and Michael Ihiekwe rose highest to nod the ball towards goal but the former Plymouth striker was unable to turn the ball home, from point-blank range – with Pym quickly off his line to pluck the ball out of the sky.
The home fans were off their seats when Olosunde seemed to be ushered off the ball by Alex Woodyard, just inside the box, but the referee waved away vehement appeals for a spot kick before Barlaser was again the architect with a deep corner which saw Thompson ghost around the ruck of bodies in the six-yard box, but he failed to trouble the visitors goal, by heading over, despite having the goal at his mercy.
Despite their first-half superiority, Rotherham were almost hit by the sucker punch, near half-time, when Niall Mason hung up a cross and with the Millers expecting a flag which never came, Toney looked well set to head home, but fortunately for the home side, his header was straight down the throat of home ‘keeper Daniel Iversen.
Half-time- Rotherham United 0 Peterborough United 0
The Millers started the second half as they finished the first when Olosunde embarked on a direct run which was halted illegally by Kent, on the edge of the box, and Barlaser almost exacted retribution, from the resultant free-kick, when his well-struck effort was acrobatically parried to safety by Pym.
However, Warne’s side were duly rewarded for their efforts, five minutes into the half, when Morris latched onto the pieces to plant a dangerous centre into the box and with Mattock in the vicinity, Wood was on-hand behind him to head the ball home from close range.
The AESSEAL New York Stadium faithful were now in full voice and they were given further cause to cheer when Kent, who had been cautioned earlier in the half, was penalised for hauling down Olosunde in full flow, for a second time, and the referee had no hesitation in brandishing a second yellow card to the visiting centre-half.
The Millers were going for the jugular and Ihiekwe headed narrowly over following Barlaser’s centre before Ogbene failed to make the most of a three-on-one situation with Olosunde crowded out before he could get his shot away.
The home side took a firm grip on the game, by doubling their advantage, with 22 minutes to go when Crooks injected pace into a home move and after exchanging passes with Ladapo, the Millers midfielder rampaged through a non-existent Posh defence to burst into the box and his clipped left-footed effort took a wicked deflection off Butler to wrong foot Pym, with the ball dribbling into the heart of the visitors net.
However, Rotherham’s afternoon took a turn for the worst when they were also reduced to ten men when Toney worked himself out of a tight corner before tumbling under the challenge of Mattock, near the touchline, before the two squared up to each other and with the Millers full-back shoving his head towards the former Newcastle striker, who was left grounded, the referee showed a straight red-card to Mattock.
Despite the setback, Rotherham continued to dominate proceedings and they added a third goal with 13 minutes to go when Barlaser floated a free-kick into the box and Rotherham’s very own ‘wrecking ball’ Wood took no prisoners, in making the ball his own, to power a downward header which hit the unfortunate Joe Ward, before finding the far corner of the visitors goal.
Visiting frustration boiled over when Toney was cautioned for dissent before sub Smith came within a whisker of adding a fourth goal, when he blasted over from the edge of the box before almost turning home Ogbene’s superb run and cross.
Smith was determined to make his mark and Beevers had to be on his toes to block his effort before Pym produced a top-draw save to deny Wood, who headed goalwards following Ihiekwe’s knock down.
However Rotherham put the icing on the cake on a polished performance when Peterborough failed to clear their lines and following a bit of ping-pong around the box with Smith involved, sub Vassell executed a superb, acrobatic effort – with his back to goal, as the ball flew into the far corner of the goal.
The final whistle brought huge acclaim from three corners of the AESSEAL New York Stadium with the Millers finishing 2019 with an eye-catching victory over Darren Ferguson’s highly-fancied side.
Full-time- Rotherham United 4 Peterborough United 0
Rotherham United 4
Peterborough United 0
Teams:- Rotherham- Iversen, Mattock, Thompson, Ladapo (Vassell 69), Barlaser, Morris (Smith 77), Robertson (Wood 27), Crooks, Ogbene, Ihiekwe, Olosunde. Unused- Price, Wiles, Lindsay, Hastie.
Peterborough- Pym, Butler, Woodyard, Beevers, Kent, Reed (Bennett 57), Toney (Eisa 82), Boyd, Mason, Burrows (Ward 46), Jones. Unused- O’Malley, Cartwright, Barker, Jones.
Referee- A Haines
Attendance- 9019 (874)