Millers earn White Rose bragging rights.....
Super-sub Georgie Kelly was the Rotherham United hero as his second-half strike gave new boss Matt Taylor his first win at the Millers helm, after they edged a cut-and-thrust White Rose derby with Huddersfield Town.
In a red-hot atmosphere at the AESEAL New York Stadium in front of the Sky TV cameras, the Millers took the lead when Conor Washington curled home a lovely effort but Danny Ward came back to haunt his former club, by equalising just minutes later.
There was little to separate the sides for much of the game, but Kelly turned out to be the match winner, when he poked home from close range.
Kelly has yet to start a league game in Millers colours, but he lived up to his folklore status with the Millers faithful, by again notching from the bench after his memorable Gillingham strike, and his goal against Blackpool earlier this season.
Taylor made three changes to his starting line-up from their last outing at Blackburn last weekend.
Club skipper Richard Wood returned to the heart of the home defence after being rested at Ewood Park while Northern Ireland international Shane Ferguson added some further experience and know-how to the Millers engine room.
In the forward positions, Washington was recalled to play alongside Tom Eaves.
Cohen Bramall and Arsenal loanee Brooke Norton-Cuffy had to settle for substitute berths while Chiedozie Ogbene was not part of the home squad.
Rotherham presented their visitors with an early chance when Wes Harding’s errant pass back saw Jordan Rhodes find Sorba Thomas, who delivered a first-time cross which was headed over by a retreating Rotherham defender under pressure from Danny Ward.
From the resultant corner, Thomas delivered a centre and Rhodes outjumped his marker to head goalwards but thankfully for the home side, his effort was straight down the throat of Viktor Johansson.
The Terriers had arguably settled into the AESSEAL New York Stadium clash the better but it was Rotherham, who threatened next, when Ben Wiles and Shane Ferguson combined smartly and the Rawmarsh-born youngster burst into the box. Wiles found his options limited from a tight angle before finding Washington, who tried his luck with a low shot which was blocked by Michal Helik.
Minutes later, Harding was felled by Yuta Nakayama and Dan Barlaser caressed a lovely free-kick into the box and Wood ghosted in around the back to meet his centre with an instinctive header but Lee Nicholls was able to pluck his effort out of the sky with ease.
The Millers were growing in confidence and Harding’s threaded pass found Wiles, who fired a snap shot towards the near post, but Helik deflected his effort into the side netting.
The home side had a scare when clever play from Ward gave Thomas acres of space to race into and the Welsh international looked to find Rhodes, but a combination of Johansson and a backtracking Rotherham defender kept him at bay.
The Millers players and fans were looking for a fillip, and they got it when they broke the deadlock on 25 minutes.
The West Yorkshire side looked to have snuffed out a Rotherham attack but tigerish play from Ollie Rathbone kept the pressure on, and Barlaser latched onto the bits and pieces, before cleverly switching the emphasis of attack to find Washington in space, on the edge of the box, and the former Sheffield United and Charlton Athletic striker showed his class, by working a yard of space on his marker, before curling a lovely effort into the far corner of the net.
However, Rotherham’s joy proved short-lived, and their lead lasted just a matter of four minutes as Huddersfield levelled matters almost immediately.
Rathbone was harshly adjudged to have fouled in an inviting position, and Thomas tried his luck from the resultant free-kick but it was deflected over.
However, Huddersfield were not to be outdone, and the Millers were seemingly outthought by a training ground corner routine as Thomas’ pull back presented Ward with the chance to drill a low shot – with his favoured left-foot - and the ball evaded the masse of bodies in the six-yard box as well a helpless Johansson.
With half-time approaching, Nicholls started a move from deep with a lovely punt forward which cleared the head of Rathbone and Thomas took advantage to skip away before planting a cross which was inches away from the outstretched foot of Ward.
Rathbone became the first to see yellow for a late clip on Nicholls before both sides traded chances, near the break, when Eaves failed to get a Wood flick on under his spell with the goal at his mercy before Rhodes was crowded out before he could get his shot away, at the other end.
Half-time: Rotherham United 1 Huddersfield Town 1
Attacking the KCM Waste Management Stand in the second 45, Rotherham had the first sighters when firstly Barlaser swung over a free kick which avoided a number of Rotherham runners, including Wood, before the Millers midfielder had a shot blocked on the edge of the box.
However, Rotherham were indebted to great goalkeeping from Johansson and a flag from the assistant referee for preserving parity.
There looked little danger for the hosts until Ben Jackson cut inside Harding with ease before unleashing a rasping effort which brought a fantastic reactive save from the Swedish stopper, but it seemed his luck was out, as the ball looped up into the path of Rhodes, who nodded home into the unguarded net, but Rotherham were relieved to see the flag had already been raised.
The home goal was living a charmed life and Thomas skipped past Lee Peltier to fizz a cross which was half blocked before Wood’s tame clearance presented Duane Holmes with the chance to drill a low shot which again brought the best out of Johansson, before the ball was scrambled clear.
Just minutes earlier, Kelly was introduced into the fray, at the expense of Eaves, with huge cheers from the Rotherham faithful, and the Irish striker maintained his fans’ favourite status, by scoring just minutes after his arrival.
Barlaser had a couple of attempts to deliver a cross, before he finally clipped a centre to the far post, and Wood, in typical bulldozing fashion, headed the ball back into the danger area and Kelly was ever-alert, by poking the ball home from close range.
Kelly had another glimpse of goal soon after with a towering header, but he failed to meet the right-wing centre before Terriers’ frustration boiled over when Nakayama was carded for cynically hacking down Rotherham’s man of the moment.
The former Bohemians striker was in the thick of the action and he firstly rose highest to meet Bramall’s centre, in the next home attack, but his knock down was scrambled clear by the Huddersfield defence before he fired a fierce drive which stung the palms of Nicholls, soon after.
With the game on a knife-edge, the Millers, arguably, had a big stroke of fortune when a long diagonal ball from deep was drilled over the shoulder of Bramall, and sub Jack Rudoni looked to get the ball under control, before tumbling under the challenge of the home full-back in the box, but the referee waved away vehement appeals for a spot-kick, from the large travelling contingent behind the goal, and the Terriers’ players and coaching staff alike.
Home nerves were frayed near the end when Harding saw yellow before the Jamaican international darted into the Terriers box, but his dangerous cross was diverted to safety.
Taylor’s side weathered five minutes of second half stoppage time to earn their first victory in five games, and three corners of the AESSEAL New York Stadium were on their feet at the final whistle to acclaim the efforts of their side.
Full-time: Rotherham United 2 Huddersfield Town 1
Rotherham United 2
Huddersfield Town 1
Teams: Rotherham- Johansson, Harding, Barlaser, Wood, Wiles, Eaves (Kelly 58), Washington (Odoffin 89), Ferguson (Bramall 66), Rathbone, Hall, Peltier (Humphreys 66). Unused- Vickers, McCart, Norton-Cuffy.
Huddersfield- Nicholls, Thomas, Rhodes, Kasumu (Ondo 84), Holmes (Rudoni 67), Camara, Ward (Mahoney 67), Jackson (Rowe 67), Lees, Nakayama, Helik. Unused- Bilokapic, Turton, Spencer.
Referee- J Simpson
Attendance- 11006 (2225)