Millers cruise to pre-season win....
Rotherham United rounded off their Sky Bet Championship preparations in fine style when they cruised to a handsome victory over Lincoln City in their last public workout to make it three wins out of three following earlier successes over Mansfield Town and Sheffield United.
Matt Taylor’s side will go into the season opener at Stoke City next weekend in good heart after goals from Ollie Rathbone, Cafu and Jordan Hugill brushed aside the challenge of the League One outfit on a sunny Lincolnshire afternoon.
The Millers fans – who travelled to the LNER Stadium in good numbers – were also given their first glimpses of exciting winger, Fred Onyedinma and Dexter Lembikisa, who put pen to paper on season-long loan deals from Luton Town and Wolverhampton Wanderers, respectively, this week.
Taylor started the game with a 3-5-2 formation with Mansfield hat-trick hero Georgie Kelly and Hugill leading the Rotherham line.
The Millers came within a coat of paint of the opener in the early minutes when Onyedinma teased his marker before presenting Cameron Humphreys with the chance to clip a cross which was inch-perfect for Hugill, who looped a header, which beat Lukas Jensen in the home goal but the ball agonisingly cannoned against the upright before falling to safety.
In a lively opening, the Millers were indebted to Viktor Johansson for preserving parity when a slick home move involving Reeco Hackett ended when Danny Mandoroiu’s slide-rule pass bisected a square Rotherham backline to release Ben House, but the Swedish stopper won the battle of wills in the one-on-one situation to divert his low effort away from goal.
Minutes later, House almost pounced on a little bit of defensive hesitation from Grant Hall, but the Lincoln striker’s effort was tame and Johansson was able to gather comfortably.
Onyedinma demonstrated his explosive pace to latch onto Cafu’s ball over the top but the move came to nothing before a lovely turn and cross from Ben Wiles gave Kelly a sniff of goal but Sean Roughan put in a timely header to deny the Irish striker.
Cafu’s whipped free kick caused havoc in the Lincoln box but Jensen bravely punched clear under pressure from Hugill before Jaden Brown was forced into a last-ditch tackle to deny Onyedinma, who had combined smartly with Humphreys down the right flank.
Kelly was almost presented with a gift when Paudie O’Connor’s weak back pass put him through on goal, but Roughan spared his captain’s blushes with a timely tackle to prevent him shooting goalwards.
The Millers were forced into a defensive change when Sean Morrison was introduced at the expense of Hall, who had needed treatment.
Just shy of the break, Rotherham broke the deadlock when Rathbone fizzed a pass into Kelly, who returned the favour, and the Millers midfielder executed a lovely curling effort from 25 yards which beat the full length dive of Jensen, as the ball nestled in the far bottom corner of the home net.
In first-half stoppage time, Jensen was called into action again to palm Cohen Bramall’s dangerous cross to safety.
Half-time: Lincoln City 0 Rotherham United 1
The Imps had the first sight of goal at the start of the second half and Madoroiu’s incisive pass gave half-time sub Tyler Walker the chance to fizz a centre across goal and Lasse Sorensen raced in at the back post, but he could only slash an effort wide of the target.
The Millers took a firm grip on the game, just three minutes into the second 45, when Kelly was felled on the edge of the box, but from a wide angle.
Cafu – as he threatened against the Blades in midweek – strode up with purpose from the resultant free-kick and he showed his class with a delicious and perfectly-executed strike which flew into the Lincoln goal giving Jensen no chance.
The Portuguese playmaker failed to repeat his heroics – from further out – just minutes later when his rising free-kick cleared the crossbar.
The Millers were presented with an opportunity to add a third goal when Onyedinma dug out a cross which struck Brown at close quarters in the box, and the referee adjudged the defender’s actions to be deliberate handball and a penalty was awarded.
Hugill was entrusted with the spot-kick duties but Jensen correctly guessed his attentions from 12 yards to divert his right-footed effort to safety.
Nevertheless, Hugill made amends – in Rotherham’s next attack – when Onyedinma’s perfectly weighted pass was tailor made for the rampaging run of Humphreys, who calmly picked out Hugill, who, in turn, nipped in front of his marker and Jensen, to skilfully caress the ball into the heart of the Lincoln net from point-blank range.
The move was Onyedinma’s last act – which led to generous applause from the away following – while his replacement, Lembikisa was given his first run out in Millers’ colours.
Minutes later, Bramall was cautioned for a hefty challenge on Sorensen near the touchline.
The home side rallied near the end and they came close to a consolation goal when Johansson – in a rare blip – spilled Roughan’s cross, but Walker failed to make a clean connection from the rebound and the chance was lost.
Full-time: Lincoln City 0 Rotherham United 3
Lincoln City 0
Rotherham United 3
Teams: Lincoln- Jensen, Sorensen, Brown (Eyoma 65), Jackson, Erhahon, Hackett (Walker 46), Smith, Mandroiu, O’Connor, House (Duffy 83), Roughan. Unused- Wright, Gallagher, Makama, Ahui.
Rotherham- Johansson, Bramall, Cafu, Wiles (Durose 86), Hugill (Ayres 80), Kelly (Kayode 65), Onyedinma (Lembikisa 60), Rathbone (Odoffin 83), Hall (Morrison 35), Peltier (McCart 65), Humphreys. Unused- Phillips, Bola, Hull, Holvey.
Referee- D Drysdale
Attendance- 2535 (465)