Millers denied Newcastle scalp, by late equaliser.....
Rotherham United came within just six minutes of claiming the scalp of Premier League side, Newcastle United, in a keenly contested pre-season affair, as they continued their Sky Bet League One preparations.
Michael Smith continued his red-hot form in front of goal, by putting the Millers ahead, against his home-town club, but sub Jeff Hendrick denied the Millers an eye-catching victory, by levelling matters, late on.
There was a carnival atmosphere at the AESSEAL New York Stadium with the long-awaited return of the Millers fans for their first match since February 2020 while the Toon Army had travelled south in significant numbers.
Home playmaker Dan Barlaser was handed the chance to pit his wits against his former club while Newcastle boss Steve Bruce fielded a full-strength line-up, in South Yorkshire.
In a lively opening, Rotherham stunned their Premier League visitors, by breaking the deadlock with their first attack of note on nine minutes.
The Millers worked an attacking position to good effect and with Freddie Ladapo involved in the build up, Mickel Miller, who was operating on the left flank, delivered a delicious centre into the box and Smith almost ghosted in unnoticed to head powerfully into the roof of the Newcastle net from close range, giving Freddie Woodman no chance.
Against the team he supports, the Wallsend-born striker wheeled away in delight, as he maintained his fine goalscoring form, following his brace against Harrogate Town last week.
Both sides traded chances when Callum Wilson failed to trouble the Rotherham goal with a long-range effort before skipper Richard Wood nodded narrowly wide from Miller’s in swinging free-kick.
Newcastle were visibly stung by the early setback and it almost got worse for the North East outfit when Chiedozie Ogbene dug out a centre and Ladapo looked set to slot home, but he failed to make a clean connection from just yards out before Jamaal Lascelles hacked clear, from near his own line.
The Millers continued to press, and Ladapo shot over the bar before Smith had a snap shot deflected behind by a retreating Toon defender.
Just before the half-hour mark, Barlaser played a defensive splitting pass which put Miller in the clear, and the home winger planted a centre which an unmarked Ben Wiles failed to get under his spell before Rotherham’s confidence was perfectly underlined when Ladapo executed a rabona which drew gasps from the home faithful.
Home stopper Viktor Johansson was having a relatively trouble-free evening, and Newcastle frustration grew when Sean Longstaff blazed an effort into the home stand, after Dwight Gayle was tripped by Wood, on the edge of the box, before the same player spooned a close-range effort over following Matt Ritchie’s pull-back.
The Millers had a let off, just prior to the break, when Wilson broke clear following a pinpoint ball from the back, but after shrugging off his nearest Rotherham marker, the England striker failed to test Johansson, when he curled an effort just past the far post.
Half-time: Rotherham United 1 Newcastle United 0
The Premier League outfit were quick out of the blocks, at the start of the second half, and one of the half-time substitutes Jacob Murphy skipped down the touchline before playing a slide-rule ball which Gayle looked on course to slot home, but Johansson blocked his effort, at close quarters.
Johansson was largely a passenger in the first half, but he soon proved his worth, when Smith brought down Paul Dummett just outside the box, and Ritchie delivered a tantalising free-kick which was met by the head of Federico Fernandez, who powered a header goalwards, but the Swedish stopper pulled off a superb, top drawer save, to usher the ball away from goal, against all the odds.
It was one-way traffic at this stage and Longstaff became the next to threaten the Millers goal with a curled effort which stung the palms of Johansson before Gayle embarked on a mazy run on the edge of the box, which ended with a low drive, which fizzed past the home upright.
The Millers weathered the Geordie storm to a large extent, and the inevitable flurry of substitutions, by both sides, saw the game lose it’s first-half intensity.
However, it was Warne’s side, who could have put the game to bed – with a quarter of an hour to go - when Smith’s superb knockdown from a long punt up field gave sub Josh Kayode, a glimpse of goal, and the Republic of Ireland Under-21 international almost pounced, just yards out, but under pressure from a Newcastle defender, he could not direct his effort goalwards, and the ball dribbled inches wide of the target.
In the latter stages of the game, Warne gave a number of academy youngsters, including Jerome Greaves, Jacob Gratton, Jake Hull and Curtis Durose, the opportunity to take to the field against top-flight opposition, but Newcastle got themselves back on level terms with six minutes to go.
The Millers conceded a corner and Murphy planted a dangerous ball into the box, and sub Hendrick emerged from the ruck of bodies, to glance a smart header into the far corner of the goal.
Full-time: Rotherham United 1 Newcastle United 1
Rotherham United 1
Newcastle United 1
Teams: Rotherham- Johansson, Harding, Barlaser, Wood (Hull 70), Wiles (Trialist 59), Ladapo (Kayode 70), Ogbene (Sadlier 70), Miller (Gratton 70), Lindsay (Greaves 81), Ihiekwe, Smith (Durose 81). Unused- Chapman.
Newcastle- Woodman, Clark (Watts 46), Lascelles (Dummett 46), Wilson (Hendrick 72), Ritchie (Schar 64), Gayle (White 77), Hayden (M Longstaff 72), Lewis, Fernandez (Krafth 64), Fraser (Murphy 46), S Longstaff (Young 80). Unused- Gillespie, Langley, Bondswell.
Referee- A Madley
Attendance- 4370 (1488)