Ihiekwe nets late winner.......
Michael Ihiekwe popped up with his third goal in as many games, as his late strike saw Rotherham United step up their Sky Bet League One preparations with a narrow victory over Grimsby Town, in their latest pre-season clash.
The Mariners, who are managed by Rotherham legend Paul Hurst, were also using the fixture to celebrate James McKeown’s long, distinguished service with the club – and the home ‘keeper kept the Millers at bay, with a string of fine first-half saves before Ihiekwe put a dampener on his special day, by notching a late winner.
Paul Warne’s side had the better of the early exchanges and Ben Wiles had a shot deflected behind before Chiedozie Ogbene used his express pace to breeze past Adam Crookes with ease to deliver a hanging cross which Michael Smith nodded goalwards, but McKeown produced a good, reflex save to deny him.
Minutes later, Mickel Miller darted down the opposite flank before playing a tantalising centre which narrowly evaded a rampaging Richard Wood, who would have had a tap in. McKeown was then forced into action, once again, to tip Wes Harding’s looping header from Shane Ferguson’s corner, over his own bar.
Despite their early promptings, the Millers had a huge let off when McKeown’s long clearance was misjudged by Ogbene, who found himself as last man, and his weak header fell into the path of Erico Sousa, who showed the Millers rearguard, a clean pair of heels, as he darted towards goal but Viktor Johansson won the battle of wills, in the one-on-one situation, to parry his effort to safety.
The Mariners were having their best spell of the game and Sousa’s clever inside pass presented Harry Clifton with the chance to strike, but Johansson was his equal with a fine, low save, before Clifton headed over from Crookes’ centre, just seconds later.
The game was being played at a good tempo and Rotherham’s wingers combined to great effect when Ogbene released Miller, who struck a fierce left-footed effort, from the edge of the box, but McKeown diverted his shot away from goal.
Minutes later, Freddie Ladapo was the next to have his head in his hands, when his direct run and shot was saved smartly by the Grimsby stopper, before Ogbene looked odds-on to finally breach his defences with the follow-up, but the Republic of Ireland international smashed the point-blank effort against the post, despite having the goal at his mercy.
Just prior to the break, Wood, in typical bulldozing fashion, won a crunching tackle with Ben Fox, and Miller gave Ferguson, the chance to strike goalwards, but McKeown was proving a tough nut to crack, by frustrating the Millers, once again, with a parried save.
Half-time- Grimsby Town 0 Rotherham United 0
With Kieran Sadlier introduced at the interval, Warne’s side made a slow start to the second period and they were almost punished when firstly John McAtee got the better of a touchline duel with Wood, to plant a delicate centre which saw Sousa get the run on his marker, to head over from close range.
In the home side’s next attack, Clifton fluffed his lines when he swept at fresh air – with the goal in sight, following good approach play by McAtee.
The Millers were looking for a spark, and it came temporarily in the shape of sub Josh Kayode, who forced a corner, but Grimsby were acquitting themselves well, and belying the two division difference between the sides.
The game, naturally, lost a lot of flow and rhythm in the latter stages, due to flurry of substitutions, by both sides, but it was Rotherham, who made the telling strike with six minutes to go.
Sub Dan Barlaser clipped a free-kick which was met by Lindsay, who called McKeown into action with a downward header, but, this time, the luck was against the home ‘keeper, and Ihiekwe was on-hand to prod the ball home from close range.
Full-time: Grimsby Town 0 Rotherham United 1
Grimsby Town 0
Rotherham United 1
Teams: Grimsby- McKeown (Battersby 90), Efete (Sears 70), Crookes (Khouri 79), Fox (Braithwaite 77), Waterfall (Pearson 70), Coke (Spokes 63), McAtee (Essel 69), Clifton (Bramall 85), Longe-King (Milner 82), Sousa (Goundry 79), Grant (Wright 46).
Rotherham- Johansson, Harding, Wood (Hull 80), Wiles, Ladapo (Trialist 73), Ogbene, Miller (Kayode 61), Lindsay, Ferguson (Barlaser 70), Ihiekwe, Smith (Sadlier 46). Unused- Chapman, Mattock, Greaves.
Referee- G Eltringham
Attendance- 3008 (461)