Goalless draw at Montgomery Waters Meadow......
Rotherham United earned another shut out, but it was far from plain sailing as they had to weather a second-half storm from hosts, Shrewsbury Town, to claim a share of the spoils.
Paul Warne’s side have proven a tough nut to crack in recent weeks but they had some nervy moments, before ‘keeper Josh Vickers could take credit for his ninth clean sheet in ten league games.
Following their long trek to Plymouth Argyle at the weekend, Warne freshened up his starting options for the midweek trip to Shropshire.
The chief tamer of the Shrews, Richard Wood, was recalled at the heart of Rotherham rearguard alongside Angus MacDonald, who was rewarded for his impressive substitute cameo at Home Park, by being handed his first start of the season.
There was a new look to the visitors midfield with Hakeem Odoffin making his first league start in Millers colours, and Arsenal flyer Jordi Osei-Tutu, just his second. Scottish midfielder Jamie Lindsay was also part of the Millers midfield five, while Freddie Ladapo and weekend hero Michael Smith continued to lead the Rotherham line.
Buoyed by their impressive recent run of late, the Millers started in a positive fashion when Wes Harding’s long throw into the box was flicked on into the path of Michael Ihiekwe, who could only hook an effort harmlessly over the home bar.
Minutes later, Ladapo almost latched onto a fortunate ricochet from Smith but Marko Marosi was quick off his line to snuff out the danger before Ihiekwe clipped a ball into the danger area which fellow centre-half Wood, nodded into the path of Smith, who failed to make a telling connection with the goal at his mercy, before Ollie Rathbone fired a rasping effort which shaved the upright, just seconds later, as Shrewsbury failed to clear their lines decisively.
Visiting ‘keeper Vickers was called into action for the first time to parry Ryan Bowman’s centre to safety before Rotherham had a half-chance when Rathbone and Harding combined smartly, before the former threaded a ball to Ladapo, whose close range shot was partially blocked, while the ball narrowly evaded the attentions of Smith, who would have had a tap in on the follow-up.
Shrewsbury seemed intent on keeping numbers behind the ball and Rotherham were in relative control, without creating any significant chances of note, until MacDonald rose highest but glanced narrowly wide of the target before Ladapo slashed a low effort, just wide of the home goal, in the visitors next attack.
The Millers had a scare when Bennett delivered a dipping corner which nearly fell kindly for Ethan Ebanks-Landell, at the far post, but the Shrews skipper could not direct his close range header goalwards.
Normal service was resumed for the Millers when Smith’s snap shot was blocked by Tom Flanagan before Harding’s long throw caused havoc in the home defence, but MacDonald blazed his half-volley over the bar.
Minutes later, Matthew Pennington became the first to see yellow for a late challenge on Lindsay, although advantage was played before Bowman had a sniff of goal, just shy of the break, when Shrewsbury countered with purpose, but his dinked effort was comfortably plucked out of the sky by Vickers.
Half-time: Shrewsbury Town 0 Rotherham United 0
Warne made a double change at the break with Ben Wiles and Chiedozie Ogbene introduced into the proceedings.
The move almost brought immediate reward when Ogbene cut inside before striking an effort with his weaker left-foot, from just outside the box, but Marosi dived smartly to his right, to keep the ball out.
The Shrews came close on a couple of occasions when firstly Pennington glanced just wide from Bennett’s corner before Daniel Udoh’s cross-cum-shot was punched clear by an acrobatic Vickers.
Shrewsbury were arguably more on the front foot in the second 45, and they almost capitalised on some sloppy Rotherham defending when Luke Leahy tried his luck with a vicious half-volley, which had Vickers nervously scrambling across goal, as it whistled past the upright.
The home side were looking the most likely and Flanagan’s committed challenge paved the way for George Nurse to jink past the attentions of Ogbene to dart into the Millers box but his cross was cut out.
The Millers goal was living a charmed life and Shrews came close to a worldie when Nurse smashed an absolute screamer from about thirty yards out but the woodwork came to Rotherham’s rescue. The reprieve looked temporary as Pennington looked set to turn home the rebound, but the home centre-half could only scuff an effort into the grateful hands of Vickers.
Warne’s side were looking a little ragged and Udoh fluffed his lines when he blasted over from a promising position near the penalty spot before Tom Bloxham fired wide from distance.
Bloxham was in the thick of the action and his volley had Vickers anxiously looking over his shoulder, as it grazed the near post.
In a rare Rotherham foray, sub Joe Mattock clipped a free-kick which Ihiekwe knocked down, but Ladapo could not capitalise on the bits and pieces.
The Millers may have been grateful for a share of the spoils when firstly Broxham’s mis-hit cross forced Vickers to tip the ball over, via the aid of the upright before Pennington, who looked a constant threat in the air, headed narrowly wide from another pinpoint Bennett delivery.
Both teams traded chances, near the end, when Ladapo nodded wide from Ogbene’s cross before Bloxham’s thunderous effort almost sneaked under the body of Vickers, who gathered at the second attempt, at the other end.
With bizarrely just one minute of second-half stoppage time announced, the game almost had a poetic ending for the Millers, when Wood, the Wembley hero against the Shrews in yester year, nodded just wide from Mattock’s corner, but it would have been far from deserved, following an improved second-half showing from the home side.
Full-time: Shrewsbury Town 0 Rotherham United 0
Shrewsbury Town 0
Rotherham United 0
Teams: Shrewsbury- Marosi, Bennett, Pennington, Ebanks-Landell, Flanagan, Nurse, Leahy, Fornah, Udoh (Janneh 90), Bowman, Bloxham. Unused- Burgoyne, Pierre, Craig, Bondswell, Daniels, Caton.
Rotherham- Vickers, Harding (Ogbene 46), Wood, Osei-Tutu, Ladapo, Lindsay, Rathbone (Wiles 46), Ihiekwe, MacDonald (Mattock 78), Odoffin, Smith. Unused- Johansson, Bola, Ferguson, Kayode.
Referee- C Brook
Attendance- 5111 (496)