Makeshift Millers defeated in Wales...
Rotherham United made the long trek back from South Wales empty-handed despite a gutsy effort against an in-form Cardiff City side, who came out on top thanks to two second half goals.
The makeshift Millers – who had manager Matt Taylor sat in the stands – proved a tough nut to crack at the Cardiff City Stadium but in a game largely devoid of quality and incident, Kion Etete broke Rotherham resistance with the opening goal before Perry Ng netted late on.
The Millers made the trip without the services of Cameron Humphreys, who suffered a hamstring injury against Preston last time out.
Aston Villa loanee Sebastian Revan was asked to deputise. Taylor was forced to use full-backs Dexter Lembikisa and Cohen Bramall either side of recognised centre-half Tyler Blackett, once again, in more central roles.
Revan and Fred Onyedinma were employed in the wing back positions while Taylor went with a box midfield with skipper Ollie Rathbone and Andre Green ahead of Sam Clucas and Christ Tiehi.
Last weekend’s goalscorer Jordan Hugill – who once had a loan spell at the Cardiff City Stadium - spearheaded the Rotherham attack, again looking to maintain his happy knack of scoring against his former clubs.
Taylor was also boosted by the return of Lee Peltier – another former Bluebird – following a long-standing calf injury sustained on the opening day of the season. The experienced centre-half was named on the visiting bench.
The Millers – who were sporting the lavender kit for the first time - settled into the clash free of incident, but it was Cardiff, who had the first sight of goal when Yakou Meite flashed a centre across the face of goal after good work by Ng in the build-up.
Minutes later, Hugill showed his aerial prowess, defensively, to head Joe Ralls’ dangerous corner to safety before Etete failed to get his shot away after some clever footwork in the visitors’ box.
In the home side’s next attack, Grant planted a cross which Bramall got a toe to but Meite latched onto the loose ball before looking to take aim with his favoured left-foot, but his tame effort was diverted away from goal by a well-stationed Blackett.
The move was Meite’s last involvement in the game following an innocuous injury.
Etete then showed fleet of foot to work a shooting position and he duly obliged to fire a left-footed effort from distance but Viktor Johansson got his body behind his shot.
The Millers had a slight let off when Lembikisa lost out to Ralls but Grant failed to make the most of the opening when he overhit his cross.
The visitors finally enjoyed a little possession in the opposition half but they failed to make the most of it before Manolis Siopis became the first to see yellow for scything down Tiehi.
There was little flow to the first half proceedings in a stop-start affair but Cardiff had the last chance of the half when Siopis’ slide-rule pass gave Ryan Wintle a chance to sting the palms of Johansson with an arrowed shot from a tight angle.
Half-time: Cardiff City 0 Rotherham United 0
For the second 45, the Millers were now attacking towards their travelling contingent – housed in the corner of the Cardiff City Stadium – and their hopes were raised when Dimitrios Goutas was cautioned for a clumsy challenge on Green.
Nevertheless, the Rotherham forward failed to make it count from the resultant free-kick when his clipped centre evaded visiting runners.
The home side had a few sniffs of goal when firstly sub Ollie Tanner burst into the box but Rathbone was on-hand to clear the danger before Grant’s rash, wayward effort threatened the corner flag rather than the Millers goal.
Nevertheless, Cardiff made the all-important breakthrough on 55 minutes when Ralls and Grant interchanged passes to put the Millers on the back foot and Grant curled an inviting centre into the box whereby Etete made light work of the challenge of Bramall before directing his downward header into the bottom corner of the visitors goal.
The home side were visibly lifted by the breakthrough and Grant’s shot was blocked en-route to goal by Bramall before Goutas, bizarrely, failed to make a telling headed connection from Ralls’ delicate cross.
The moment almost proved crucial when Cardiff overplayed at the back and Rathbone nipped the pocket of Siopis before trying his luck with a left-footed effort from just outside the box. The shot looked sure to test Jak Alnwick until Mark McGuinness’ last-ditch intervention.
Moments later, Cardiff quickly turned defence into attack and Grant picked out Tanner, who swept a low effort which grazed the far post.
With the game still in the balance, the Millers freshened up both their defensive and attacking options when Sam Nombe, Arvin Appiah and Peltier were introduced.
The move almost proved a masterstroke when one of the replacements, Appiah cut inside from the right flank with intent and took Jamilu Collins and Siopis out of the game with a burst of pace and feints, but his rising shot from the edge of the box cleared the home crossbar.
The Millers were arguably having their best spell of the game and Cardiff successfully withstood a number of visiting corners.
However, Cardiff sealed the deal in the dying minutes when sub Callum Robinson dug out a cross which met the head of fellow sub Ike Ugbo, who was denied by Johansson with a reflex save, but despite Etete being snuffed out, Ng was on-hand to fire into the heart of the Millers goal.
Taylor’s side refused to throw in the towel but they were denied a consolation goal when Appiah struck a sweet left-footed free-kick which beat the outstretched hand of Alnwick but the woodwork came to Cardiff’s rescue before the ball flew to safety.
In stoppage time, sub Georgie Kelly and Rathbone failed to test Alnwick following pinball in the Cardiff box.
Full-time: Cardiff City 2 Rotherham United 0
Cardiff City 2
Rotherham United 0
Teams: Cardiff- Alnwick, Ng, McGuinness, Goutas, Collins, Siopis (Adams 87), Wintle, Ralls (Robinson 79), Meite (Tanner 18), Grant (Ugbo 87), Etete. Unused- Runarsson, Panzo, Romeo, Sawyers, R Colwill.
Rotherham- Johansson, Lembikisa, Bramall, Blackett, Clucas (Peltier 72), Hugill (Nombe 67), Green (Kelly 87), Onyedinma, Rathbone, Tiehi, Revan (Appiah 72). Unused- Phillips, Eaves, McGuckin.
Referee: J Bell