Millers slip to narrow defeat.....
JONSON Clarke-Harris came back to haunt his former club as his second-half strike proved the difference as Bristol Rovers earned a solitary goal victory, at the expense of the Millers.
Paul Warne’s side failed to hit their straps for the majority of the Memorial Stadium affair and Clarke-Harris turned the tight affair, in the home side’s favour – with a well-taken effort, just minutes into the second 45.
Following their goalless draw with Shrewsbury Town in their last outing, Warne kept his faith with his starting line-up for the visit to Gloucestershire.
Experienced defender Billy Jones retained his right-back berth following an impressive showing against the Shrews, despite American full-back Matt Olosunde returning to full fitness.
The Millers had the first sight of goal when Jake Hastie injected pace into a visitors move before planting a cross with his weaker right-foot but a home defender hacked the ball clear.
Moments later, a fine flowing move from the Millers saw Ben Wiles lay off present Matt Crooks with the chance to fizz a cross across the face of the Rovers goal before Alex Rodman turned the ball away from danger, at the far post.
In the home side’s first foray of note, Rodman cleverly worked a crossing position and Abu Ogogo timed his run to perfection to meet his centre but he could not control his header, as it blazed over.
Minutes later, the Millers had a scare when Liam Sercombe’s through ball saw Tyler Smith get the better of Clark Robertson to take aim with the goal in his sights but Daniel Iversen stood up tall to block his low drive with his legs.
The Danish ‘keeper was called into action, moments later, with a parried clearance before racing off his line to pluck Sercombe’s floated cross out of the sky.
Following a fairly even opening, the visitors were the next to threaten the goal when Carlton Morris worked a yard of space on Leahy to curl a delightful centre which Anssi Jaakkola spilled initially, but gathered at the second attempt – with Freddie Ladapo lurking for a tap-in.
Just after the half-hour mark, Rotherham launched a quick counter and Wiles’ pass released Billy Jones, who hung up a cross which was met by the head of Ladapo, but his effort lacked power and Jaakkola was well-stationed on his own line to snuff out the danger.
Minutes later, Hastie was felled on the edge of the box and Wiles planted the resultant free-kick into the box and Clarke-Harris’ headed clearance fell kindly for the Rangers loanee, who showed great technique, to fire goalwards but Jaakkola smartly tipped the ball over the bar before Robertson hooked over from Wiles’ corner, in the next phase of play.
In the last play of the half, Rotherham threaded the ball to Hastie, who evaded a number of Rovers challenges, to dart into the box and after drawing Jaakkola from his line, the flying winger’s cross threatened the home goal before Leahy turned the ball to safety, at the far post.
Half-time- Bristol Rovers 0 Rotherham United 0
Following the interval, Rovers broke the deadlock with the first real action of the half when Sercombe’s clip over the top saw Clarke-Harris get on the wrong side of Robertson before holding off the attentions of the Scottish defender to burst into the box and the former Millers striker kept his nerve to drill a fierce left-footed effort past the attentions of Iversen to find the bottom corner of the net.
The hosts were lifted by the breakthrough and Rodman’s pass saw Ogogo attempt a spectacular effort which forced a smart save from iversen before Ladapo took a pass on the turn to evade Ed Upson, before firing a rasping effort from long range which blazed harmlessly over the home goal, at the other end.
The Millers were struggling to regain their composure following the setback before Lindsay skipped past Upson with ease to fizz a cross which Craig diverted towards his own goal with a wayward header, but the ball narrowly cleared the home crossbar.
Just past the hour mark, Warne reshuffled his pack with Olosunde and Michael Smith entering the fray but it failed to have the desired effect as Rovers came close to doubling their lead.
Rotherham made a hash of a clearance and Sercombe showed good skill to volley goalwards but Iversen got a hand to his shot and the ball looped into the air whereby Alfie Kilgour looked a likely scorer, by heading into the unguarded net but he blazed his effort over with the goal at his mercy.
With ten minutes to go, Leahy showed great opportunism to get the ball under his spell before trying to lob Iversen with an outrageous effort from distance – but the ball sailed just wide with the Leicester loanee backtracking nervously towards his own goal.
With the game in the balance, Sercombe stung the palms of Iversen with a low drive from distance before Olosunde almost became an unlikely hero when he cut inside his marker before firing a left-footed effort from a tight angle which was arrowing into the far corner of the home net but Jaakkola’s acrobatic intervention maintained the hosts’ slender advantage.
In dying minutes, Rovers almost added gloss to the score line when sub Tom Nichols’ deflected shot fell kindly for Victor Adeboyejo, who smashed a point-blank effort which brought a top-drawer save from Iversen and the moment almost proved crucial when Ladapo made something out of nothing, at the other end, but Rotherham’s frustration was summed up, when his shot was blocked by the ruck of home bodies in the box.
Full-time- Bristol Rovers 1 Rotherham United 0
Bristol Rovers 1
Rotherham United 0
Teams:- Bristol Rovers- Jaakkola, Ogogo, Craig, Upson, Sercombe, Clarke-Harris (Adeboyejo 77), Leahy, Kilgour, Davies, T Smith (Nichols 77), Rodman (Menayese 90). Unused- Van Stappershoef, Kelly, Bennett, Hargreaves.
Rotherham- Iversen, Jones (Olosunde 63), Mattock, Wiles (MacDonald 76), Ladapo, Morris (Smith 68), Robertson, Lindsay, Crooks, Ihiekwe, Hastie. Unused- Price, Wood, Barlaser, Lamy.
Referee- M Salisbury
Attendance- 7321 (524)