Millers run riot at the Keepmoat......
Rotherham United began their Papa John’s Trophy campaign with a convincing victory over near neighbours Doncaster Rovers, largely, thanks to a three-goal blitz, in the opening quarter of an hour.
The game at a sultry Keepmoat Stadium was as good as over when Mickel Miller, Freddie Ladapo and a Louis Jones’ own goal put Paul Warne’s side in charge, in the early stages, and they never relinquished their grip on the game, from that point onwards.
There was icing on the cake, in the second period, when Will Grigg notched a debut goal before young centre-half Jake Hull got the slightest of touches, to add a fifth, in front of the Millers travelling contingent.
Skipper for the evening Joe Mattock headed home a sixth, late on, in a classy display for all those with a Rotherham United persuasion.
The South Yorkshire rivals locked horns for the second game in succession, this time, in the EFL Trophy.
Only Kieran Sadlier, Freddie Ladapo and Miller were retained from the 2-0 league victory over Rovers, at the AESSEAL New York Stadium.
The Millers fans were treated to their first glimpses of Bola and Grigg, who signed late on transfer deadline day while centre-back Hull also started, despite being on-loan at Guiseley.
The Millers had the first sight of goal in the early seconds when Sadlier and Dan Barlaser combined smartly from the kick-off, and the former Doncaster winger tried his luck with a skimming drive from distance, which was smothered by home ‘keeper Jones.
In a lively opening, Jordy Hiwula had a shot blocked en-route to goal before the same player was almost put in the clear from Ben Close’s threaded pass, but the offside flag came to Rotherham’s rescue.
Minutes later, Rotherham caught the hosts napping with a quick free-kick and Barlaser’s tap presented Sadlier with the chance to strike from long range, and his rising effort had Jones nervously flying across goal, as it fizzed narrowly wide.
Hakeem Odoffin, in his first full start, had to be his toes to put in a timely block on Close on the edge of the box following a sweeping home move before the Donny midfielder fired a harmless effort into the Millers fans behind the goal, just moments later.
The Millers broke the deadlock, just before the quarter hour, thanks to a stroke of luck involving Miller, who was credited with his first goal for the club.
The Millers winger had fluffed a cross, just moments earlier, but he calmly intercepted an ambitious cross field pass, before darting menacingly down the right touchline, to float a cross with his weaker right-foot, and the ball arched over the outstretched hand of Jones, to find its way into the home net.
The visitors were visibly lifted by the strike, and they soon doubled their advantage, in their next attack.
Barlaser instigated the move with a round the corner pass, and with Ro-Shaun Williams failing to take charge in the home rearguard and Jones in no man’s land, on the edge of his box, the ball squirmed away from the home ‘keeper’s grasp, and Ladapo was on-hand to get the ball under his spell, before calmly rolling the ball into the empty net.
The home players and fans were stunned, and Rotherham, arguably, put the tie to bed with their third goal, in a matter of minutes.
There looked little danger for the hosts until Odoffin strode purposely from halfway, before firing a rasping effort from distance, which cannoned against the crossbar, but struck the unfortunate Jones, who was in mid-air, and the ball dribbled back into the home goal.
To their credit, Doncaster responded positively to the turn of events and Matt Smith fired over before Vickers was at full stretch to deny Hiwula.
The Millers almost added gloss to the first half scoreline when Bola skipped down the flank, before delivering a pin-point centre which Ladapo, bizarrely, nodded wide, despite being just yards out, and having the home goal at his mercy.
The home side’s miserable first-half was summed up when Donny skipper Tommy Rowe put Hiwula in the clear, and he looked set to reduce the arrears with just Vickers to beat, but he curled his effort wide of the target, when it looked easier to score.
Half-time: Doncaster Rovers 0 Rotherham United 3
The visitors rubbed salt into Doncaster’s wounds when Grigg – a rumoured target of the hosts prior to signing with the Millers – crowned his debut with a goal.
The Northern Irish striker oozed class throughout – with his movement and fleet of foot, in and out of the box, and a clever turn and pass into the path of Ladapo saw the latter cut inside to stroke an effort, which hit the foot of the post, but Grigg showed his predatory instincts to tap the ball into the unguarded goal.
The Millers fans were in full voice, at this stage, and Grigg was the provider, as Ladapo fired a left-footed effort which skimmed the top of the home crossbar before Jones had to pull off a top drawer save to prevent Mattock from making it five with a superbly taken free-kick.
Jones was in the thick of the action, and he showed good relaxes to deny Ladapo, again, following Bola’s run and cross.
Youngster Hull looked a composed presence at the back, throughout, and he had an evening to remember when he popped up at the other end to add a fifth.
Barlaser planted a corner into the danger area, and Hull appeared to get a faint touch to turn the ball home, from close range, amid a masse of bodies in the six-yard box.
Both teams played the latter stages of the game with ten men as Close was withdrawn for the hosts, and Bola, likewise for the Millers.
The Millers added a sixth goal near the end when Miller swung over a corner, and Mattock timed his run to perfection to head home, from point-blank range.
Full-time: Doncaster Rovers 0 Rotherham United 6
Doncaster Rovers 0
Rotherham United 6
Teams: Doncaster- Jones, Williams, Close, Rowe, Matt Smith, Bostock, Hiwula (Knoyle 63), Seaman, Dodoo (Greaves 63), Vilca (Gardner 63), Horton. Unused- Ravenhill, Harrison, Kuleya.
Rotherham- Vickers, Mattock, Barlaser, Sadlier (Rathbone 46), Grigg (Gratton 65), Ladapo (Michael Smith 65), Miller, Bola, Odoffin, Edmonds-Green, Hull. Unused- Johansson, Ihiekwe, Wiles, Lindsay.
Referee- B Speedie.