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07 October 2023 Venue St. Mary's Stadium Attendance

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English Football League - Championship

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Match Reports


7 October 2023

Super-sub Hugill earns Millers battling point......

Rotherham United showed their fighting spirit to register their first away point of the season against in-form Southampton, despite travelling to the south coast with a host of missing first-team regulars and after withstanding a first-half barrage from the hosts.

The Millers’ travelling woes in the Sky Bet Championship looked set to continue as Stuart Armstrong put the hosts ahead as early as the second minute but an inspired performance from Viktor Johansson between the sticks and some resolute defending kept them in the game.

Matt Taylor’s side gradually grew in confidence, and they stunned St Mary’s Stadium into silence when sub Jordan Hugill produced a moment of magic with a superb volleyed equaliser with 16 minutes to go.

The Millers – who are blighted by injuries, especially in their backline – were without the services of midweek scorer Tyler Blackett, who suffered a hamstring injury late in the Bristol City clash.

Grant Hall – who made a late substitute appearance against the Robins following his own injury woes – was thrust back into starting action in the heart of the Rotherham rearguard alongside Lee Peltier, who himself has only just returned to the first-team fold.

Taylor was given a boost when Cohen Bramall was passed fit to play after the flying wing-back took a knock in midweek.

The Millers boss also freshened up his attacking options with club record signing Sam Nombe handed just his second full start in Millers colours.

The visiting fans travelled to the South Coast in their numbers, and their presence was felt around the city in the run-up to the St Mary’s Stadium clash.

The two teams locked horns in league action for the first time since the 1965/1966 season.

In a fervent atmosphere, Rotherham had the first shot in anger when skipper Ollie Rathbone tried his luck from distance but his effort failed to trouble the target.

However, it proved a false dawn, as the Millers made the worst possible start when Southampton broke the deadlock in their first attack of note.   

The Millers were guilty of failing to clear the initial danger through Hall and Christ Tiehi and Kyle Walker-Peters latched onto the loose ball before embarking on a mazy run, evading a few half-hearted challenges. The pacy wing-back then clipped a lovely ball into the box and Che Adams leapt above his marker to plant a header which smashed against the upright, but fortunately for the Saints, the ball fell invitingly for Stuart Armstrong, who had the simple task of tapping home into the empty net.

The Saints put the Millers on the backfoot immediately from the restart and Kamaldeen Sulemana cut inside with menace in the box before striking a fierce effort which looked to be arrowing into the far corner of the net but Johansson was the Rotherham saviour with a top drawer save, as he parried the ball to safety against all the odds.   

The Millers were struggling to stem the flow of the home side and Stuart Armstrong’s pass paved the way for Sulemana to show Dexter Lembikisa a clean pair of heels before pulling the ball for Saints skipper, Adam Armstrong, who took aim with a low, left-footed effort, but again, Johansson proved a tough nut to crack with a smart, smothered save.

The home side were seemingly cutting open the Millers at will and Flynn Downes’ defensive splitting pass was inches away from the attentions of Stuart Armstrong, who would have been through on goal if he could have got the ball under his spell.

The Millers were looking for a foothold in the game, but they were found wanting defensively again when Walker-Peters – in acres of space on the right flank – picked out Adam Armstrong, who executed a deft back-flick which rolled into the corner of the Millers net giving Johansson no chance, but his celebrations were cut short by an offside award.

The Swedish stopper was in the thick of the action once again when Sulemana stung his palms with another low effort following good work by Will Smallbone.

Minutes later, Peltier demonstrated his wealth of experience to halt Stuart Armstrong’s progress with a timely tackle before Walker-Peters blasted over from the resultant corner.

The Millers were showing very little as an attacking force but in a rare foray forward, Fred Onyedinma’s pass gave Nombe an opportunity to advance in the final third, but he overhit his centre.

Taylor – in an attempt to halt the home side’s momentum – made a tactical switch on the half-hour mark with a change in shape and Sebastian Revan introduced at the expense of Onyedinma.

Nevertheless, the home side continued to press and Stuart Armstrong’s free-kick – after Peltier was carded for a foul on Sulemana – was met by Adams, who powered a header goalwards, but the Rotherham ‘keeper was his equal with another fine save.  

Moments later, Sulemana, himself, was cautioned for a foul on Andre Green before Peltier put his body on the line to block Adams’ volley at close quarters.

The Millers were hanging onto the coattails of the home side but the Saints continued to threaten when Green headed clear from his own line following Jan Bednarek’s looping header before Adam Armstrong fired into the side netting.

Half-time: Southampton 1 Rotherham United 0

Following a slight delay to the second 45 owing to a medical emergency, the Millers were acquitting themselves better at the start of the half, despite Southampton commanding the lions’ share of possession and territory. Taylor’s side could take heart from a few nervy moments, at the back for the hosts – with Russell Martin’s side intent on playing out from the back at all times.

Normal service was resumed when Sulemana made light work of Lembikisa before planting a cross which was cut out by Hall before Johansson plucked Bednarek’s header out of the sky following Stuart Armstrong’s corner.

The Millers were very much still in the contest, despite being second best for large spells, and Hugill was introduced at the expense of Nombe on the hour mark.

Minutes later, Walker-Peters had a low shot deflected wide before Stuart Armstrong – in his last involvement – blasted into his own set of fans behind the goal.

The visitors were making a better fist of things in the second half and Revan’s cross was turned behind by Walker-Peters but Cafu’s resultant corner came to nothing.

Christ Tiehi found himself in the book for hauling down Samuel Edozie before Rotherham were indebted to Johansson, once again, for keeping them in the game.

Following good work by Walker-Peters, sub Ryan Fraser, expertly picked out the on-rushing run of Smallbone, who looked a certain scorer, but Johansson produced a superb, finger tip save to divert his effort over his own bar.

The moment proved crucial when Rotherham having made another three substitutions, equalised thanks to a fantastic moment of opportunism by Hugill.  

Johansson launched a long punt up field and Hugill was involved in an initial aerial duel and with Harwood-Bellis only half clearing the danger from the edge of his own box, Hugill produced a superb volleyed effort from 25 yards which dipped over Gavin Bazunu – who was in no man’s land – to find the heart of the Saints net. 

The Millers' fans were now in fine voice and after sub Sam Clucas was carded, Johansson kept his nerve to snuff out a couple of efforts, latterly from sub Carlos Alcaraz.

The visitors were visibly lifted by the equaliser and Rathbone latched onto a loose ball, before darting into the Saints box. The Millers midfielder took advantage of the home defence backing off to fire a snap effort which Bazunu was forced to turn around his own post.

Taylor’s side were having their best spell of the game and they forced another corner from which sub Arvin Appiah declined the opportunity to shoot from the edge of the box.

Naturally, the Millers withstood a late barrage from the hosts when Johansson turned Alcaraz’s effort around the post before Peltier hacked clear from near his own line following some pinball in and around the six-yard box.

Taylor’s side then showed their defensive mettle during five minutes of stoppage time, and the final whistle saw the noisy band of Millers followers salute the heroic efforts of their side, who earned a share of the spoils, against all the odds, and in the most dramatic of circumstances.

Full-time: Southampton 1 Rotherham United 1

Southampton 1

Rotherham United 1

Teams: Southampton- Bazunu, Walker-Peters, Harwood-Bellis, Bednarek, Manning, Downes, Smallbone (Aribo 86), S Armstrong (Alcaraz 63), A Armstrong (Fraser 63), Adams (Mara 86), Sulemana (Edozie 63). Unused- McCarthy, Bree, Holgate, Charles.   

Rotherham- Johansson, Lembikisa, Bramall, Cafu (Clucas 73), Green (Kelly 73), Onyedinma (Revan 30), Rathbone, Hall (Appiah 73), Peltier, Tiehi, Nombe (Hugill 61). Unused- Phillips, Eaves, McGuckin.

Referee- J Busby

Attendance- 28404






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