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01 May 2023 Venue AESSEAL New York Stadium Attendance

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English Football League - Championship

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Match Reports

REPORT | Rotherham 1 v 0 Middlesbrough

1 May 2023

Millers guarantee Championship safety.....

Rotherham United will be playing Sky Bet Championship football next season as a superb victory over play-off incumbents Middlesbrough guaranteed their safety with one game to go.

Hakeem Odoffin’s fourth goal of the season proved critical as the Millers got the necessary points they needed to ensure their status in England’s second tier rendering their last day visit to Wigan Athletic meaningless.

Millers boss Matt Taylor had to make two enforced changes to his starting line-up following their last outing against Cardiff City in midweek.

Lee Peltier and Conor Coventry were both ruled out because of muscle injuries sustained against the Bluebirds.

Taylor reverted to a 4-3-3 formation with Odoffin and Shane Ferguson returning to the midfield ranks.

There were a few familiar faces in the ‘Boro squad with playmaker Dan Barlaser lining up in the starting eleven and Matt Crooks named on the visiting bench.

The atmosphere was at fever pitch, prior to kick-off, at a sold-out AESSEAL New York Stadium with both sets of supporters creating a cacophony of noise.

Rotherham were quick out of the blocks and Chiedozie Ogbene forced an early corner and Wood – in what could prove to be his last home appearance for the club – made a nuisance of himself from the following corner in an aerial duel with Zack Steffen but a foul was awarded.

Wood was in the thick of the early action and Marc Bola’s curled pass saw the Rotherham centre-half in a footrace with Riley McGree, who got on the wrong side of the home skipper, to bare down on goal and the Australian attacking midfielder appeared to come on top in the one-on-one with Viktor Johansson, as he dinked an effort which looked to be rolling into the Rotherham net, but Wood came to Rotherham’s rescue when he hacked clear from just underneath his own crossbar to preserve parity.

Moments later, Rotherham had a couple of opportunities when Jamie Lindsay volleyed over after ‘Boro failed to clear the danger before the visitors were almost the victims of their own downfall when they ambitiously tried to play their way out from the back but Ollie Rathbone was quick to pounce on the edge of the box but his goalbound shot was blocked by Barlaser, who atoned for his earlier error.

In a lively opening, Cameron Archer blazed over from a tight angle after meeting McGree’s cross before Hayden Hackney deservedly became the first to see yellow for cynically hauling down Ogbene in full flow.

The Republic of Ireland flyer was left grounded following the incident, and he was deemed to be in no position to continue, as he went straight down the tunnel for further treatment with Tariqe Fosu replacing him.

The Millers shrugged off the setback and Odoffin produced a fine tackle to pen ‘Boro deep into their own half and Rathbone delivered a lovely centre which narrowly evaded the attentions of Jordan Hugill, as it flashed narrowly wide of the target.

Just before the half-hour, Lindsay became the next to incur the wrath of the referee by seeing yellow for a series of fouls, the latest on Hackney, on halfway.

The Millers had a scare when ‘Boro attacked with menace and Chuba Akpom had a sight of goal, but a last-ditch tackle from Cohen Bramall halted his progress, although all those of a Middlesbrough persuasion were appealing for a spot kick but the protests were waved away by the referee.

The home fans had a penalty call of their own when the ball appeared to strike the arm of Darragh Lenihan just inside the box, but no further action was taken.    

Taylor was forced into another reshuffle when Ferguson had to leave the fray just before half-time after he failed to shrug off a knock sustained earlier in the game and homegrown star Ben Wiles was thrust into action.

There was further drama to come in the five minutes of first-half stoppage time and Fosu nudged the ball forward into the path of Hugill, who looked to break clear into the ‘Boro box but Anfernee Dijksteel illegally halted his progress, by hauling him over.

With the referee adjudging Dijksteel to be last man, a red card was brandished to the ‘Boro defender.

The Millers failed to exact full retribution from the resultant free-kick when Bramall wastefully fired the inviting free-kick from just outside the box into the visiting fans behind the goal.  

Half-time: Rotherham United 0 Middlesbrough 0

The Millers made the perfect start to the second half when they broke the deadlock just three minutes into the half.

The home side worked the ball up field with Fosu and Rathbone paved the way for Odoffin, to weigh up his options before striking a lovely effort from distance and Steffen – who appeared to have his view obstructed by a ‘Boro defender – was helpless, as the ball fizzed into the corner of the visiting net.

The goal sent the AESSEAL New York Stadium into ecstasy with Odoffin leading the celebrations, soon followed by his team mates.

Rotherham’s desire and determination to hold onto their slender lead was fully in evidence as Lindsay and Harding made some hard yards against all the odds to prevent Bola from putting in a dangerous centre.

Despite their numerical disadvantage, ‘Boro were still posing a considerable threat with Barlaser at the thick of things on his old stomping ground, but his free-kick was cleared away before he blasted over from long-range.

The home side had another nervy moment when McGree sneaked around the back to clip a ball which Wood and Bramall were in no position to divert from danger but sub Tommy Smith fluffed his lines when he blazed over when he really should have down better.

The Millers fans were up in arms when Odoffin was yellow carded for trying to re-enter the field of play without permission following an injury. It was the Millers goalscorer’s last involvement as he was replaced soon after – with Taylor making a double substitution in the shape of Georgie Kelly and Leo Hjelde.

The Irish striker made his presence felt immediately when Rathbone knocked the ball into his path, and Lenihan in a last-ditch attempt to stop him advancing on goal, bundled him over but with the Millers fans and players baying for a second red-card for professional fouls this time, the referee waved play on.

There was further controversy at the other end when Isaiah Jones appeared to be nudged over by Cameron Humphreys in the Millers box, but, again the referee took no further action to the consternation of the ‘Boro faithful.

A tense finish was anticipated, and Millers nerves were heightened when Fosu was stripped of possession and Akpom’s snap shot was deflected behind.

Moments later, Johansson made a superb claim under pressure from Akpom from Jones’ hanging cross before Lenihan was inches away from meeting Barlaser’s free-kick, but a timely Rotherham foot diffused the danger.

The pressure was released on the hosts when Bramall embarked on a lung-bursting run from deep inside his own half to win a throw up field.

Relief was only temporary though as ‘Boro switched play to great effect and Bola’s cross took a wicked deflection off Lindsay, but Johansson – not for the first time this season – flew through the air at full stretch to palm the ball to safety.

Taylor’s side successfully ran down the clock before the final whistle brought acclaim from all four corners of the AESSEAL New York Stadium – with the ‘Boro fans also respectful of the achievement of their hosts.

Rotherham United 1

Middlesbrough 0  

Teams: Rotherham- Johansson, Harding, Bramall, Wood, Hugill, Ogbene (Fosu 19), Lindsay, Ferguson (Wiles 39), Rathbone (Kelly 71), Odoffin (Hjelde 71), Humphreys. Unused- Hemfrey, Kioso, Quina

Middlesbrough- Steffen, Jones, Barlaser, McGree (Crooks 80), Archer (Smith 46), Dijksteel, McNair, Lenihan, Bola, Akpom, Hackney (Mowatt 60). Unused- Roberts, Muniz, Finch. Bilongo

Referee- K Stroud

Attendance- 11508 (2212)


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