Millers progress on spot-kicks....
Rotherham United advanced to the second round of the Carabao Cup at the expense of last season’s conquerors, Morecambe, but it was far from easy as they had to rely on spot-kicks to advance.
In regulation time, Joshua Kayode – who made his first Rotherham start since April 2022 – cancelled out Michael Mellon’s opener with a poacher’s finish.
The game was a low-key affair – with little to report – and it was no surprise when the AESSEAL New York Stadium tie was to be decided by a penalty shootout.
Goalkeeper Dillon Phillips - who joined the club from Cardiff City in the summer – was the hero when he saved penalties from subs Charlie Brown and Jake Taylor before Fred Onyedinma endeared himself to the Millers faithful in his first home outing by slotting home the winning spot-kick.
The visitors failed to repeat their heroics from last season when they dumped the Millers out of the Carabao Cup at the second round stage, but they gave the home side another almighty scare.
The Shrimps missed a gilt-edged chance to open the scoring in the early minutes when Mellon got the better of Sean Morrison near the touchline by ushering out the home skipper before planting a centre which found JJ McKiernan just yards out from goal but the visiting striker, who was at full stretch, could only divert a point-blank effort into the grateful hands of Phillips.
The League Two outfit were arguably having the better of the early exchanges and one-time Millers loanee Jordan Slew got around the back of the Rotherham rearguard before Yann Songo’o overhit the resulting centre.
Just past the quarter hour, Songo’o tried his luck with a volley from the edge of the box but Hakeem Odoffin deflected his effort wide.
The home side had their first attack of note when Cameron Humphreys clipped a free-kick which saw Morrison rise highest to knock the ball down into the path of Ben Wiles, who shot goalwards but a retreating Morecambe defender diverted the ball away from goal.
However, it was Morecambe, who opened the scoring with 22 minutes on the clock.
There looked little danger for the hosts until possession was turned over and Songo’o latched onto the pieces before delivering a perfectly-weighted pass into the advancing run of Mellon, who had worked a yard of space on his marker, and the visiting frontman kept his nerve to fire a well-struck effort across the face of goal and Phillips was helpless, as the ball nestled in the far corner of the home net.
The Millers were creating little of note until Kelly emerged from the masse of bodies in the visitors box to meet Ollie Rathbone’s free-kick but his instinctive header was straight down the throat of Stuart Moore.
Nevertheless, Rotherham got themselves back on level terms eight minutes before the break.
The home side attacked with purpose and Cohen Bramall darted down the left flank before drilling a low centre which evaded the attentions of Moore and Farrend Rawson, in a desperate attempt to clear, got the ball stuck under his body near his own goal line and Kayode pounced to tap home into the empty net from close range.
The Irish youth international netted just his third goal in Millers colours, after a long spell out with injury.
Half-time: Rotherham United 1 Morecambe 1
There was little noteworthy early in the second half until Moore became the first to see yellow for taking too long with a restart.
Minutes later, Moore went from villain to hero when Rathbone injected pace into a Rotherham move before floating a lovely cross which was inch-perfect for Kelly, who planted a downward header towards goal but the Shrimps ‘keeper pulled off a top draw save to maintain parity.
Just past the hour mark, Morecambe threatened next, when Mellon – with a short back lift – fizzed a low effort which had Phillips scrambling across goal, as it whistled just wide.
The Millers were getting into some good positions in the final third but the initial work was often undone by some wasteful crossing into the box.
However, Rotherham came close to the all-important breakthrough with just under ten minutes to go when three of the substitutes combined when Onyedinma fed Tyler Blackett, who delivered a delicious cross into the box but Ciaran McGuckin – who had ghosted in between two defenders – got underneath the ball, and he could only head over from close range.
In the dying minutes, Onyedinma was cautioned for preventing a Morecambe free-kick before sub Charlie Brown squandered a match winning opportunity for Derek Adams’ side when he nodded over from Max Melbourne’s centre with the goal at his mercy.
In the last acts of normal time, sub Jordan Hugill blazed a header over from Rathbone’s cross before Blackett, off balance, could only hook over, as well, from another Rathbone centre.
Full-time: Rotherham United 1 Morecambe 1
Rotherham United 1
(Rotherham win 4-2 on penalties)
Teams: Rotherham- Phillips, Lembikisa (Blackett 78), Bramall (Bola 78), McCart, Wiles, Kelly (Hugill 73), Rathbone, Kayode (Onyedinma 62), Odoffin, Morrison (McGuckin 78), Humphreys. Unused- Johansson, Ayres.
Morecambe- Moore, Love, Bedeau, Rawson, Songo’o (Melbourne 73) , Bloxham (Taylor 73), King (Davenport 82), Mellon (Brown 73), McKiernan, Senior, Slew (C Smith 73). Unused- A Smith, Stokes, Rooney.
Referee- T Parsons
Attendance- 2834 (111)
0-1 McKiernan- scored.
1-1 Hugill- scored.
1-2 Davenport- scored.
2-2 Rathbone- scored.
2-2 Brown- saved.
3-2 Blackett- scored.
3-2 Taylor- saved
4-2 Onyedinma- scored