Millers slip to derby defeat.....
Rotherham United had a derby day to forget as Michael Smith came back to haunt his former club with a brace to earn Sheffield Wednesday their first Sky Bet Championship victory of the campaign at the expense of the Millers.
Hillsborough has been a happy hunting ground for the Millers in recent years, but it was not to be on this occasion, as Smith's first-half double put pay to Rotherham's chances.
The Millers made the short hop to S6 in good spirits following their victory over Coventry City in their last outing.
Boss Matt Taylor kept faith with the starting line-up against the Sky Blues for the derby day affair.
Midweek goal hero Lee Peltier shrugged off the cramp he suffered late in midweek clash to take his place at the heart of the Rotherham rearguard alongside skipper Sean Morrison.
Free agent signing Daniel Ayala – who pen to paper on a deal until the end of the season – was handed a place on the Millers bench.
The home side made a nervy start with Cameron Dawson kicking the ball straight out of play under no pressure before Dominic Iorfa was fortunate to get a free-kick award with Fred Onyedinma looking to burst clear.
In a whirlwind sixty seconds, Wednesday – in their first attack of note – broke the deadlock when Rotherham failed to make the most of an attacking opportunity and they were punished to the full on the counter attack.
There looked little danger for the Millers when Ollie Rathbone stripped George Byers of possession to attack with menace but after exchanging passes with Jordan Hugill, the Millers midfielder’s pass was disappointingly cut out by a retreating Wednesday defender.
The hosts then turned defence into attack in the blink of an eye and an incisive pass put Anthony Musaba in a footrace, and the Owls striker fired a stinging drive which Viktor Johansson did well to parry at his near post, but with the Millers still at sixes and sevens, defensively, Musaba managed to toe-poke the ball into the path of Smith – who forced the ball home from close range.
The Owls were boosted by the breakthrough and Callum Paterson – who had a little joy in the early exchanges – fizzed a fierce centre which was inches away from Smith in the six-yard box and Reece James at the far post.
The Millers had a let off when James delivered a centre which Johansson, uncharacteristically, made a hash of and with no Rotherham defender taking charge, Byers looked set to make it two but he blasted his effort over the bar when he should have done better.
Taylor – much like he did during the recent draw at Southampton – was brave enough to make a tactical and personnel switch early in the game and Arvin Appiah was withdrawn and Seb Revan introduced.
Nevetheless, it was the hosts who were the next to threaten though when Josh Windass’ through ball put Musaba in acres of space – and similar to the opening goal – he tried his luck from a tight angle but, this time, Johansson smothered his near-post effort.
The Millers had appeals for a spot kick when Revan – in what must have been his first involvement – burst between two Owls defenders to dart into the box before losing his footing under a home challenge, but the referee waved away visiting protests.
The Owls had visibly grew in confidence and they missed a gilt-edged chance to double their lead when Musaba – who was proving a thorn in the Millers side – played a slide-rule ball across goal, and Windass – with the goal at his mercy – blasted over when he really should have scored.
However, Rotherham failed to heed the warning when the Owls doubled their lead, soon after.
The visitors failed to deal with a long ball forward and Musaba got the ball under his spell before taking both Peltier and Morrison out of the game with a measured pass, and Smith made no mistake to stroke the ball past Johansson and find the heart of the Rotherham goal.
Rotherham frustration boiled over when Peltier was yellow-carded for a clash with Windass near the touchline.
The first half almost went from bad to worse for the Millers when Musaba met a cross from the right flank but he bizarrely headed the ball into the ground, and over the Millers bar, despite being just yards out.
Minutes later, Di’Shon Bernard found himself in the book for a hefty challenge on Hugill before Morrison – with his back to goal – harmlessly hooked over the Owls goal in the dying seconds of the half following a goalmouth scramble.
Half-time: Sheffield Wednesday 2 Rotherham United 0
The Millers - were now attacking their large travelling contingent - but their fortunes did not improve when firstly Christ Tiehi was cautioned for a foul on halfway before Josh Windass spotted Johansson off his line, and tried a speculative volley from long range but it flew narrowly wide of the target.
Taylor's side were looking for a foothold in the clash and they almost got it when Wednesday failed to deal with Peltier's long throw and in the ensuing melee, Hugill got a timely nick on it but Revan fluffed his lines when he blazed a shot over from close range.
The Millers afternoon almost took another turn for the worse on the hour mark when Smith latched onto a long ball forward and he got a yard of space on Morrison before drilling a low shot which arched away from goal.
There was a feeling the next goal would be all important but the Millers squandered a half chance when Hugill rose highest to flick on Johansson's long punt forward but Onyedinma failed to get the ball under his spell despite being through on goal.
In a last throw of the dice, Taylor threw Sam Nombe and Georgie Kelly into the mix and Kelly gave Dawson a scare with an opportunistic effort from the halfway line but it drifted narrowly wide.
After Hugill was cautioned, Revan had Rotherham's last chance of note when he flashed a left-footed effort which whistled past the upright.
Full-time: Sheffield Wednesday 2 Rotherham United 0
Sheffield Wednesday 2
Rotherham United 0
Teams: Sheffield Wednesday- Dawson, Bernard, Iorfa, B Diaby, James, Byers (Vaulks 63), Bannan, Musaba (Buckley 63), Paterson (Valentin 80), Windass (Gassama 63), Smith. Unused- Vasquez, Ihiekwe, Johnson, Cadamarteri, Gregory
Rotherham- Johansson, Lembikisa, Bramall, Cafu (Clucas 63), Hugill, Onyedinma, Rathbone, Peltier (Nombe 63), Morrison, Tiehi (Kelly 63), Appiah (Revan 26). Unused- Phillips, Eaves, Odoffin, McGuckin, Ayala.
Referee- A Davies