Millers book second round place following early scare......
ROTHERHAM United avoided an FA Cup giant killing act by overturning a first-half deficit to put National League outfit Maidenhead United to the sword and book their place in the second round hat.
At a rain-soaked York Road, Jake Cassidy gave the hosts a genuine hope of causing an upset with the opener but after home skipper Alan Massey was red-carded for a rash challenge, Michael Ihiekwe, sub Freddie Ladapo and Matt Crooks turned the tie on its head, as the Millers ran out comfortable victors in the end.
Following their handsome victory over Gillingham last time out, Millers boss Paul Warne named a strong looking line-up for the visit to Berkshire.
American flyer Matt Olosunde was recalled to the starting line-up following his impressive substitute cameo in Kent with experienced operator Billy Jones asked to ply his trade at left-back, as Joe Mattock was ruled out through injury.
Dan Barlaser returned to the Millers engine room as Jamie Lindsay was unavailable while Carlton Morris was recalled on the left-hand side of midfield.
Two-goal hero from last week, Crooks was again asked to support frontman Michael Smith, who also netted in the previous outing.
Following a scrappy opening by both sides, Maidenhead had the first sight of goal when Nana Ofori-Twumasi’s cross from the right flank was only half-cleared by Michael Ihiekwe into the path of Josh Kelly, who blasted over harmlessly from the edge of the box.
Moments later, Olosunde put in a timely tackle to prevent Kelly from advancing into the box following good work by Jake Cassidy in the build-up before Smith had the Millers’ first shot in anger, but it was blocked en-route to the home goal.
The Millers came close to the opener when Chiedozie Ogbene took advantage of his marker giving him the opportunity to strike by taking aim with a fierce drive from distance which had Chris Dunn nervously scurrying across goal, as it whistled narrowly wide.
The former Brentford winger was in the thick of the action and he put on the jet-burners to breeze past his opposite number before being felled but Morris failed to exact retribution from the resultant free-kick, by curling an effort wide, from a promising position.
Minutes later, Dunn was forced to punch clear following an aerial duel with Millers skipper Richard Wood after Smith’s up-and-under before Morris fired a snap shot over with his weaker left-foot after Ben Wiles was denied on the edge of the box.
However, Maidenhead stunned the Millers by breaking the deadlock, just before the half-hour when Smith took a hefty challenge on halfway, but no free-kick was awarded and Ryheem Sheckleford latched onto the loose ball to clip a ball forward and Cassidy showed good composure to cut inside a Rotherham defender before keeping his nerve to slide the ball past the advancing Daniel Iversen to find the bottom corner of the goal.
The Millers responded positively to the setback and Smith fired into the grateful arms of Dunn before Jones became the first to see yellow for a late challenge on James Comley.
The visitors hopes were dealt a further blow when Wood pulled up following a Maidenhead attack and the experienced centre-half was unable to continue with Adam Thompson making his first appearance in Rotherham colours, just days after a reserve outing.
Minutes later, Smith cut inside Joe Ellul before blasting over the home stand before the same player was denied with a close range header following Ogbene’s clipped centre.
On the stroke of the interval, Maidenhead were indebted to Dunn for preserving their slender advantage when Barlaser injected pace into a Millers move by finding Wiles, who was denied as he looked to get his shot away but the ball fell kindly for Morris, who looked a likely scorer but Dunn threw his body in the way of his goalbound effort before Jones volleyed over on the follow-up.
In the last action of the half, Rotherham threatened once again when Morris got the better of Ellul to advance into the box and although Dunn raced off his line to narrow his angle, Smith looked set to tap home, but a number of retreating home defenders bravely blocked his point-blank effort.
Half-time- Maidenhead United 1 Rotherham United 0
The Millers started the second half in a positive vein without creating any chances of note before Maidenhead were reduced to ten men when Wiles looked to clear the ball down the right channel but Massey launched an out of control tackle on the slick surface which felled the Rotherham youngster near the touchline and the referee had no hesitation in brandishing a straight red card to the home captain.
The home side reshuffled the pack while Freddie Ladapo and Jake Hastie were introduced in an attempt to spark a reversal of fortunes.
In a rare home foray, Ryan Upward fired over from long range before Hastie clipped a cross which Ogbene bizarrely headed away from goal.
Minutes later, Ladapo should have done better when he met Jones’ run and cross but he headed wide from an inviting position before Rotherham finally broke home resistance when Ogbene did the hard yards to put the ball into the danger area and although Ladapo was unable to work a shooting position, the ball rolled into the path of Ihiekwe, who kept his nerve to stroke the ball past the outstretched hand of Dunn to find the far corner of the net.
The Millers superbly turned the game on its head, by taking the lead with 15 minutes to go, when Jones smartly put the ball into the channel and Ladapo looked to be heading into a cul-de-sac but the former Plymouth striker showed fleet of foot to evade the attentions of his marker to fire a fierce left-footed effort which Dunn got a hand to but couldn’t keep out.
The Millers were going for the jugular and they effectively killed off the tie when a long punt forward into space enabled Hastie to show a turn of space to leave home defenders in his wake to dart into the box and the Rangers loanee rolled the ball into the path of Crooks, who slide the ball into the unguarded net.
Warne’s side almost added late gloss to the scoreline when Crooks fired wide before Wiles struck the woodwork with a rising effort following a superb run and shot.
In the dying minutes, Wiles turned creator to put Morris in the clear and the Norwich loanee clipped the ball over the advancing Dunn, but the ball rolled agonisingly wide of the target.
Full-time- Maidenhead United 1 Rotherham United 3
Maidenhead United 1
Rotherham United 3
Teams:- Maidenhead- Dunn, Steer, Ellul, Comley, Cassidy, Kelly (Davies 56), Twumasi, Sheckleford, Upward, Massey, Smile (Whitehall 77). Unused- Mensah, Keetch, Brissett, Sekajja.
Rotherham- Iversen, Jones, Wood (Thompson 36), Wiles, Barlaser, Morris, Crooks, Ogbene, Ihiekwe, Olosunde (Hastie 61), Smith (Ladapo 52). Unused- Price, Lamy, Hinds, Cooper
Referee- O Yates