Millers suffer late cup heartbreak....
Despite playing the vast proportion of the game with just ten-men, Rotherham United came within a whisker of maintaining their FA Cup participation – but one-time Millers loanee Tom Eaves came back to haunt his former club – with a well-taken hat-trick, including a stoppage time winner.
The Millers gave the Championship outfit a good run for their money, by taking an interval lead through strikes from Michael Smith and Kyle Vassell with a worldie, but Hull took advantage of Adam Thompson’s dismissal to book their place in the Fourth Round – when Eaves struck twice in the second 45.
Following their late victory over Blackpool during a productive festive period, the Millers turned their attentions to the visit of The Tigers.
Boss Paul Warne made just one change to his squad with Vassell rewarded for his impressive substitute cameo against his former club, by being handed a start with Freddie Ladapo dropping to the bench.
The visitors made eight changes from their New Year’s Day victory at Hillsborough with Liverpool loanee Herbie Kane thrown immediately into the fray, just 24 hours after putting pen-to-paper while there was a familiar face in the Hull ranks with Eaves spearheading their attack.
In a fairly even start to the game, Josh Bowler cut inside with menace before being crowded out by a number of Rotherham defenders while Ben Wiles forced an early corner, at the other end, as Reece Burke hacked clear.
Minutes later, Rotherham turned defence into attack in the blink of an eye and Michael Smith clipped a ball over the top which saw Vassell get on the wrong side of Burke but he could not control his volley, as he fired over before Wiles got the better of a duel with Robbie McKenzie to float a cross which had Matt Ingham backtracking nervously, as It narrowly cleared the visitors’ crossbar.
Just past the quarter hour, Hull took the lead when Dan Batty injected pace into a visitors box, by bursting into the box, past a static Rotherham rearguard, before playing a slide-rule ball into the path of Eaves, who kept his composure to stroke a low effort into the bottom corner of the home net.
However, Hull’s joy proved short-lived as Rotherham equalised, just five minutes later, when Chiedozie Ogbene won a battle of wills with Brandon Fleming to race away before planting a low cross which Smith got under his spell, evading the attentions of his marker, before firing into the top corner of the Hull goal giving Ingham no chance.
In a frantic few minutes, Rotherham’s hopes of a Championship scalp took a turn for the worst when they were reduced to ten men when Hull switched the play to great effect and Thompson, in an attempt to win the ball, flew into a reckless challenge which left Keane Lewis-Potter grounded near the touchline, and following a long consultation with his fellow officials, the referee brandished a straight red-card to the Rotherham defender.
Due to the numerical disadvantage, Warne reshuffled his defensive pack by asking Wiles to ply his trade at right-back with Vassell moved back on the left-hand side leaving Smith on a lone furrow upfront.
Despite the setback, Rotherham had the next attack of note when Ihiekwe fought hard to win possession before exchanging passes with Smith and the Rotherham centre-half tried his luck from distance, but his long-range effort failed to trouble the Hull goal.
The Millers had adapted to the circumstances in fine style and they were duly rewarded by taking the lead, just two minutes before the break – with a moment of individual brilliance from Vassell.
There looked little danger for the visitors when Olosunde threw the ball to the edge of the box and Vassell, against the crowd’s expectations, took aim from distance with his weaker right-foot, from a tight angle on the corner of the box and the ball whistled over the outstretched hand of Ingham to find the far corner of the visitors goal.
Half-time- Rotherham United 2 Hull City 1
The Millers started the second half as they finished the first when Ogbene showed his marker a clean pair of heels before drilling a cross which was deflected over before Matt Crooks ghosted in at the far post to meet Dan Barlaser’s resultant corner, but Hull managed to scramble the ball clear.
Moments later, Rotherham countered quickly following the breakdown of a Hull corner and Crooks’ lay-off presented Ogbene with the chance to strike but Fleming blocked his shot en-route to goal.
In the next Millers attack, Olosunde rampaged into the visitors’ box but McKenzie produced a superbly timed tackle to halt the American’s progress before Hull made a triple substitution on the hour mark, in an attempt to turn the tide of the encounter.
The move almost paid immediate dividends when one of the replacements, Jarrod Bowen produced a bobbly shot which forced Iversen into a full-length save before Eaves was denied by the Danish stopper, at point-blank range, just seconds later.
The visitors were piling on the pressure and they broke Rotherham resistance – with 24 minutes remaining - when another sub Kamil Grosicki raced down the line, evading Olosunde, to clip a cross which seemed to skim off the head of Ihiekwe with Iversen aiming to pluck the ball out of the sky and Eaves was well-placed to head into the roof of the unguarded home net.
Following the strike, the referee consulted with the assistant referee following home protests that the ball had gone out of play before the Polish midfielder’s cross and there was a long wait before the goal was finally confirmed.
The Millers responded superbly to the setback and in a rare foray, Crooks and sub Jamie Lindsay did the hard yards to give Ogbene the chance to plant a deep centre which found the unmarked Olosunde, at the far post, but off-balance, he failed to trouble the visitors’ goal.
With the tie in the balance, sub Jackson Irvine had a one-two with Grosicki before the Australian fired over from a promising position before Grosicki turned from creator to finisher with a direct run which ended with a low effort which was destined for the far corner of the net before Iversen’s timely intervention with his legs.
In the latter stages of the game, Leonardo Da Silva Lopes was yellow carded for cynically hauling back sub Ladapo, as he looked to break, before Kane had a shot blocked on the edge of the box.
However, Hull grabbed the decisive winner, deep in stoppage time, when Grosicki floated a corner into the danger area and Ryan Tafazolli headed the ball back into the danger area and Eaves was on-hand to head home.
The Millers refused to throw in the towel and they came within a coat of paint of a replay when sub Carlton Morris swung an inviting centre towards the on-rushing Lindsay and a backtracking Hull defender, in an attempt to clear the danger, headed against his own woodwork with Lindsay vainly attempting to turn home the rebound home.
Full-time- Rotherham United 2 Hull City 3
Rotherham United 2
Hull City 3
Teams:- Rotherham- Iversen, Thompson, Wood, Vassell (Lindsay 71), Wiles, Barlaser, Crooks, Ogbene (Ladapo 79), Ihiekwe, Olosunde, Smith (Morris 90). Unused- Price, Clarke, Hastie, Lamy.
Hull- Ingham, Tafazolli, Burke, Batty (Irvine 61), Eaves, McKenzie, Bowler (Grosicki 61), Fleming (Bowen 61), Lewis-Potter, Da Silva Lopes, Kane. Unused- Long, Lichaj, McLoughlin, Honeyman.
Referee- A Backhouse
Attendance- 6044 (1803)