Millers fall to home defeat.........
Rotherham United had a disappointing return to Sky Bet Championship action as Bristol City ran out comfortable victors.
The Robins gained their first ever victory at the AESSEAL New York Stadium as Chiedozie Ogbene’s seventh goal of the season in all competitions proved a mere consolation for Matt Taylor’s side.
The Millers boss could call upon the services of a largely fully-fit squad following the World Cup break.
On a cold, frosty afternoon, Rotherham had the first attack of note when Dan Barlaser embarked on a direct run from halfway before playing a through ball to Ogbene, who opted against putting the cross in with his unfavoured left-foot, and the ball unfortunately rolled out of play.
Moments later, Ben Wiles latched onto a loose ball and found Ogbene, who again took the wrong option, by ignoring the overlapping Cohen Bramall, and his snap shot was blocked at close quarters before Jamie Lindsay dragged a shot wide.
Lindsay turned provider – in Rotherham’s next attack – by finding Wiles, who evaded a number of City challenges on the edge of the box before firing a low effort which stung the palms of Max O’Leary.
The Millers were looking the most likely and Ollie Rathbone and Brooke Norton-Cuffy exchanged passes before the former tried his luck from distance but Andy King struck out a timely leg to divert his low effort away from goal.
Just before the quarter hour, Richard Wood found himself in the thick of the action when he almost latched onto a punt back into the box following the breakdown of a home corner, but he was crowded out before the Rotherham skipper headed harmlessly over from the resultant set-piece.
However, Nigel Pearson’s side stunned the home fans into silence when they broke the deadlock with their first meaningful attack.
Bermudian Nahki Wells got the better of a tussle with Lee Peltier near the touchline and the City striker planted a cross into the six-yard box and Harding, in an attempt to clear the danger, was unfortunate as he smashed the ball into the roof of his own net.
However, Bristol City’s joy was short-lived as Rotherham levelled matters on 25 minutes.
The Millers broke quickly following the end of a City attack and Rathbone, Barlaser and Lindsay were involved as Norton-Cuffy had a one-on-one with Cameron Pring and the Arsenal loanee worked a yard of space on his marker, to deliver a centre, which may have took a nick off the City defender, and ball looped invitingly into the path of Ogbene, at the far stick, who had the simple task of nodding home from close range.
Norton-Cuffy was proving a thorn in City’s side and he once again showed skill and pace to leave two away defenders in his wake, but his near-post cross was cleared.
However, Rotherham found themselves chasing the game for a second time when Tommy Conway darted in from the touchline to back Wood deep into his own box, before firing a low cross across the face of goal, and an unmarked Joe Williams was able to bundle the ball home from just yards out.
Both teams traded chances when firstly Wells fired a snap shot which Victor Johansson was forced to parry away from goal before Barlaser showed fleet of foot to work a shooting position and the Geordie midfielder duly obliged by unleashing a low effort which O’Leary was at full stretch to keep at bay.
There was a flurry of yellow-cards near the interval when Wood saw yellow for hauling down the dangerous Conway before King soon joined him in the book for bringing down Ogbene in full flow.
In the last acts of the first half, Bramall’s free-kick was punched clear by O’Leary before the Robins stopper comfortably gathered a tame Wood header.
Half-time: Rotherham United 1 Bristol City 2
The Millers made a change at the interval when Jamie McCart was introduced into the home defence at the expense of Wood, and Wiles took over the skipper’s armband.
There was a low-key start to the half until Wells found himself in hot water for a clumsy challenge on Lindsay and Pring was also yellow-carded for a hefty tackle on Ogbene.
The Millers were struggling to find any rhythm until Norton-Cuffy’s slipped pass gave Wiles, a glimpse of goal, but he was unable to get his shot away.
With 20 minutes to go, Taylor looked to the bench for attacking reinforcements and Georgie Kelly and Conor Washington entered the fray.
However, it was City, who extinguished any hopes’ of a home comeback by notching a third goal with 17 minutes to go.
The Millers had an early warning when a weak home clearance fell kindly for Alex Scott, who tired his luck with a skimming effort which Johansson had to turn around the post.
However, Rotherham failed to heed the warning, just seconds later, when Scott delivered a lovely centre into the home box and Pring ghosted in almost unnoticed to meet his cross and power a header into the heart of the home goal giving Johansson no chance.
The Millers chances were as good as over but they refused to throw in the towel and Kelly headed over from Wiles’ cross.
Wiles then blasted over himself following Kelly’s lay-off before the Irish striker proved a nuisance in the Robins’ box, but he was unable to turn the goalwards.
Fellow sub Scott High tested O’Leary with a long range effort before the Huddersfield loanee bizarrely found himself in a one-on-one defensively with Robins replacement Antoine Semenyo, who recently starred in Qatar, but he did just enough to prevent the City striker making it four.
Semenyo was then booked for dissent before O'Leary produced a superb save to deny Kelly in the dying seconds.
Full-time: Rotherham United 1 Bristol City 3
Rotherham United 1
Bristol City 3
Teams: Rotherham- Johansson, Harding, Bramall, Barlaser, Wood (McCart 46), Wiles (Eaves 87), Norton-Cuffy (Kelly 70), Ogbene, Lindsay (Washington 70), Rathbone (High 60), Peltier. Unused- Vickers, Odoffin.
Bristol City- O’Leary, Naismith, James, Scott, Williams, King, Weimann (Sykes 53), Conway (Bell 79), Pring, Tanner, Wells (Semenyo 74). Unused- Bentley, Atkinson, Martin, Kadji.
Referee- S Barrott
Attendance- 10167 (608)