Millers ease to derby day win.......
It was derby day delight for the Millers as they brushed aside the challenge of local rivals Sheffield Wednesday, with ease, following a devastating first-half display.
Following a disrupted opening at the AESSEAL New York Stadium, Garry Monk’s men made the short hop back to S6 with the tails well and truly between their legs as Rotherham earned the South Yorkshire bragging rights, thanks to Jamie Lindsay’s double and Dan Barlaser’s spot kick.
In a miserable evening for the visitors, Wednesday were forced to play the whole of the second half with ten men after Tom Lees was red-carded for his part, in the build-up to Rotherham’s crucial second goal.
Following their weekend reversal at the hands of table-topping Reading, Millers boss Paul Warne made two changes to his starting line-up for the visit of the Owls.
Summer recruit Mickel Miller was handed a recall to the Millers side after being rested at the Madejski Stadium while Freddie Ladapo was asked to lead the Rotherham attack, as Shaun MacDonald and Michael Smith were named among the substitutes.
There was a strange start to the AESSEAL New York Stadium affair, after the game was initially halted before the referee took the decision to take both sets of players off the pitch, due to safety concerns – with just four minutes on the clock, after an unauthorised drone was hovering above the stadium.
With the players having a quick warm-up on their return to the pitch, Rotherham caught the visitors’ cold, from the restart, as they broke the deadlock, just seconds after the resumption.
There looked little danger when Florian Jozefzoon managed to squirm the ball into the path of Ladapo, but last season’s top marksman, took aim from the edge of the box but despite his effort being blocked by his nearest marker, the ball looped into the sky, but fell invitingly for the on-rushing Lindsay, who kept his nerve to head the ball over Cameron Dawson in the visitors goal, with the ball dipping just underneath the crossbar.
The visitors responded positively to the setback and they could have been on level terms almost immediately when Rotherham failed to clear the danger and Jack Marriott pounced on the indecision, to fire a fizzing left-footed effort which flew narrowly over before Moses Odubajo played an inviting centre into the box and Kadeem Harris latched onto his cross, at the far post, but he slashed his effort wide when he should have done better.
The Owls were looking purposeful in the attacking third and Joey Pelupessy was the next to threaten the home goal with a long range effort which had Jamal Blackman scrambling across goal before Harris had another good opportunity, but he blazed his shot into the stand behind the goal.
Just past the quarter hour, Wednesday were forced into a change when Aden Flint was forced to leave the proceedings, due to injury and his replacement, Liam Palmer was immediately under pressure, as he was yellow-carded for cynically hauling down Miller in full flow.
The Millers were finding their rhythm and Dan Barlaser showed his class to launch a home attack and Miller injected pace into the move with a direct run to the edge of the box, before Julian Borner halted his progress with a timely tackle before Palmer was forced to turn Ben Wiles’ cross behind, in the next phase of play.
Home ‘keeper Blackman incurred the wrath of the referee, by deliberating too long over a goal kick, and he was cautioned, just before the half-hour mark.
The Millers had a scare when Callum Paterson advanced menacingly down the right flank to deliver a delicious centre which evaded Millers skipper Richard Wood, and Marriott appeared to guide the ball goalwards with his chest, instinctively, but fortunately, for the home side, Blackman was superbly positioned on his own goal line to smother his effort.
Minutes later, Marriott was forced into defensive action, as he diverted Wiles’ free-kick to safety before Ladapo was upended by Borner, in a dangerous position, on the edge of the box, following superb work by Wiles.
Mattock almost punished the Owls for their indiscretion when he curled a left-footed effort round their wall, but Dawson correctly guessed his intentions to palm the ball away from goal.
However, the game took a decisive twist, six minutes before the break, when Rotherham were presented with an opportunity to double their advantage.
Barlaser planted a perfectly-weighted pass forward and with no Wednesday player taking charge, Jozefzoon sensed an opportunity to latch onto his pass and the Derby loanee headed the ball over the advancing Dawson, before looking to turn the ball into the unguarded net, but in the act of shooting, Lees dragged him down and the referee had no hesitation in pointing to the spot.
With Lees given his marching orders, as he was adjudged to have made no attempt to play the ball ruling out the double jeopardy rule, Barlaser had an opportunity to tighten Rotherham’s grip on the game from 12 yards.
In a carbon-copy of his spot kick at Nottingham Forest last week, the Millers playmaker kept his nerve to fire into the heart of the visitors’ goal, evading the attentions of Dawson.
The Millers were running riot and they rubbed salt into Wednesday wounds when they added a third goal, on the stroke of half-time – with Lindsay notching his second of the game, and just his third in Millers colours.
With Monk’s side failing to clear the danger, Barlaser latched onto a loose ball to fire a fierce drive which stung the palms of Dawson, who only parried the ball back into the danger area, and it fell into the path of Lindsay, who returned the ball back with interest, by smashing the rebound past the Owls stopper.
The Millers came close to a fourth goal before the break when Michael Ihiekwe forced Dawson into a smart save before Ladapo fired over from a promising position.
Half-time- Rotherham United 3 Sheffield Wednesday 0
With a handsome scoreline and a man advantage, the Millers were dictating the tempo, at the start of the second half – with Barlaser, often at its hub, in the quarterback role.
However, Fisayo Dele-Bashiru had the first shot in anger, for the Owls, when he hooked over from a tight angle before Lindsay took the sting out of a Marriott strike as Blackman snuffed out the danger.
Just past the hour mark, Rotherham skipper Wood almost had a special moment of his own against his former employers, as he rose superbly to meet Barlaser’s free-kick to head home – with Dawson leaving his goal unattended, following a rush of blood – but Wood’s joy was curbed by a flag, from the assistant referee.
The Millers were showing good game management while the Owls seemed intent on damage limitation, as both sides traded yellow cards with Miller and Moses Odubajo seeing yellow.
From the latter, Jozefzoon had a free-kick deflected narrowly wide before sub George Hirst was yellow-carded, almost immediately after entering the fray for a rash challenge on Palmer.
With the game as good as over, Rotherham almost added to Wednesday’s misery when Mattock swung a delightful centre to the far post which sub Smith looked set to turn home, but Dawson somehow kept the ball out, as it ballooned over the Owls bar.
Hirst looked like a man on a mission, and he came close to his first Rotherham goal, when he forced Dawson into a reflex save, following a powerful drive, from just outside the box.
Despite Rotherham’s attempts to put the gloss on a polished performance with a fourth goal, near the end, the final whistle will have come as a welcome relief for the Owls, as Rotherham recorded their first home win and their second of the campaign, in memorable fashion.
Full-time- Rotherham United 3 Sheffield Wednesday 0
Rotherham United 3
Sheffield Wednesday 0
Teams: Rotherham- Blackman, Mattock, Wood, Wiles, Ladapo (Hirst 73), Miller (S MacDonald 82), Lindsay, Harding, Ihiekwe, Barlaser (Smith 65), Jozefzoon. Unused- Johansson, Jones, Sadlier, Crooks.
Sheffield Wednesday- Dawson, Paterson (Windass 57), Flint (Palmer 17), Harris, Pelupessy, Marriott (Reach 71), Bannan, Borner, Lees, Dele-Bashiru, Odubajo. Unused- Wildsmith, Rhodes, Hunt, Kachunga.
Referee- J Gillett