Millers slip to narrow defeat.....
Rotherham United’s recent fine run of form came to an end as Rochdale ran out narrow victors at the AESSEAL New York Stadium.
Aaron Morley was the ‘Dale match winner with a super strike from the edge of the box, at the end of the first half, to turn a tight affair in the Lancastrians favour.
Following their miraculous Emirates FA Cup victory over Solihull Moors on Monday night, Millers boss Paul Warne made four changes to his starting line-up for the Roses clash.
Joe Mattock shrugged off a back problem to take his place at left-back while Jamie Lindsay returned to the Millers engine room.
Chiedozie Ogbene and Matt Crooks were rewarded for their impressive substitute cameos in the West Midlands, by earning starts with in-form striker Freddie Ladapo, once again, leading the Rotherham line.
Following a slow start by both sides, Rotherham came within a coat of paint of the opener when Mattock worked a yard of space on Luke Matheson to deliver a near post cross which was met by Crooks, who headed against the upright from close range before Ogbene was unable to turn the loose ball into the visitors goal.
In the ensuing scramble, Ben Wiles latched onto the pieces to fire a goalbound effort which stung the palms of Robert Sanchez, before Dale finally diverted the ball to safety.
Minutes later, Ogbene made something out of nothing to deliver a left-footed cross into the danger area but Ladapo failed to make a clean connection with his volley before Carlton Morris came close to turning the ball home but Sanchez smartly raced off his line to clear the danger.
Just past the quarter hour, Callum Camps became the first to see yellow for clipping Ogbene in full flow near the touchline before Clark Robertson had to put in a timely tackle to deny the same player, who burst into the box, following Wiles’ errant pass.
In the Millers next attack, there was a comical moment when Wiles clipped a free-kick into the box and with Rochdale’s defence running out in sequence, Mattock, was one of a number of Millers players, in acres of the space in the box and the home left-back kept his nerve to slide the ball past the attentions of Sanchez and find the heart of the home goal – but, inevitably, the assistant referee raised the flag to curtail any home celebrations.
Minutes later, Wiles’s slide-rule pass gave Morris, a glimpse of goal but Eoghan O’Connell blocked his cross-cum-shot, at close quarters, before the evergreen Ian Henderson caught the Millers napping with a quick throw before taking Rekeil Pyke’s return pass in his stride but he was unable to get his shot away because of home pressure.
Minutes later, Ogbene collected possession before showing a few Rochdale defenders a clean pair of heels, but his shot from the edge of the box lacked sting before the former Brentford flyer turned creator with a wicked cross which saw Morris hold off the attentions of Matheson to head goalwards, but he could not keep his header down, as it flew over the crossbar.
Following a finely balanced first-half, Rochdale took the lead, just three minutes before the break, when good work from Henderson, initially, saw the visitors spread to play to great effect and Matheson teased Mattock before pulling the ball back and Camps dummied the ball before Morley took aim to fire a fierce effort from distance which arrowed into the far corner of the net giving Daniel Iversen no chance.
Half-time- Rotherham United 0 Rochdale 1
The Millers were quick of the blocks at the start of the second half and Ladapo headed harmlessly wide from Mattock’s cross before sub Michael Smith caused havoc in the Dale box but Sanchez plucked the ball out of the sky to diffuse the danger.
Moments later, Ogbene’s volley at the far post was turned behind by Matheson before Morris swung a dangerous centre across the face of goal, but no Rotherham runners anticipated his cross.
Just before the hour mark, Mattock’s switch of play paved the way for Ogbene to dart past the attentions of Jimmy Keohane before pulling the ball back into the path of Crooks, whose measured strike from the edge of the box failed to trouble the visitors’ goal.
Substitute Jake Hastie almost made an immediate impact when he dug out a cross which was flicked on by Crooks and Ogbene instinctively nodded goalwards, but Sanchez smartly smothered his effort.
The Rangers loanee was looking threatening, since his arrival, and he danced past Matthew Done before evading Matheson to clip an effort – with his weaker right-foot – but Sanchez got his body behind his shot.
There was an eventful sixty seconds when Hastie’s deflected cross saw Ogbene nip in front of sub Matthew Gillam, before being felled under his challenge in the box but the referee waved away vehement home appeals before Smith became the next to test the Rochdale goal when he swept Olosunde’s cross goalwards, but Sanchez was his equal with a fine save.
In a rare Rochdale foray, Done held off the challenge of Hastie before firing a dipping left-footed effort which had Iversen acrobatically flying across goal as it whistled just inches wide.
With quarter an hour to go, sub Kyle Vassell clipped a free-kick which O’Connell almost diverted into his own goal, but his back header narrowly cleared the visitors crossbar before Camps fired over following Hastie’s weak clearance, at the other end.
The Millers frustration boiled over when Crooks was yellow-carded for a clumsy challenge on Kwadwo Baah and Camps almost punished the home side to the full, from the resultant free-kick, but Iversen parried his fierce effort over his own crossbar.
Ogbene and Baah were shown yellow-cards following a body shove near the touchline before Mattock headed wide following Crooks’ cross, in Rotherham’s last act of note.
Full-time- Rotherham United 0 Rochdale 1
Rotherham United 0
Teams:- Rotherham- Iversen, Mattock, Wiles, Ladapo, Morris (Hastie 60), Robertson, Lindsay (Smith 46), Crooks, Ogbene, Ihiekwe, Olosunde (Vassell 73). Unused- Price, Thompson, Barlaser, Clarke.
Rochdale- Sanchez, Norrington-Davies, O’Connell, Camps, Pyke (Baah 76), Keohane, Done, Ryan (Gillam 66), Morley, Henderson (Tavares 90), Matheson. Unused- Lynch, Bradley, Hopper, Brierley.
Referee- C Sarginson
Attendance- 8313 (262)