Skipper's header decisive...Rotherham United were back to winning ways with a narrow 1-0 victory in turgid conditions at Exeter. Captain Ian Sharps netted his first goal of the season for the Millers, who finished the game with 10 men.
Steve Evans made two changes to the team that were beaten by Wycombe in midweek, with Johnny Mullins returning to the team after being recalled by Oxford United, and Liam Ridehalgh making his Millers debut. Daniel Nardiello started on the left of a front three on his return to St James Park.
The Millers made much of the early running, and also had the first real attempt on goal after five minutes as Artur Krysiak could only punch Ben Pringle’s corner to the edge of the box where Jason Taylor let fly, only to see his effort whistle just past the post.
Two minutes later, and the Millers forced Krysiak into the first save with some delightful football that saw some one touch passes result in Pringle feeding Alex Revell, whose shot from the right was palmed away by the goalkeeper. The home side quickly hit back, and veteran Jamie Cureton burst through on the Grecians’ right, before forcing Andy Warrington to beat away their first shot on target.
Warrington again had to be alert 20 minutes into the game. When the Rotherham failed to clear from a ball into the channel, Cureton fired Alan Gow’s centre goalwards only to see the Millers’ stopper pull off a fine reaction save. It was a rare voyage into Rotherham’s final third, and 22 minutes into the game it was again the Millers on the attack. Mark Bradley’s cross wasn’t cleared and with plenty of time and space,
Courtney Cameron failed to make sufficient contact on his volley, and the ball ballooned wide.
Despite the Millers having much of the territorial advantage, Exeter did keep ensuring Warrington was alert, and tested his ability with Gow’s strike from distance, that was expertly tipped onto the crossbar after some fine individual work.
After a frantic five minutes, the chances slowed down a little until Michael O’Connor made himself a yard on 39 minutes and skimmed a shot across the ground which was saved by Krysiak. From the resulting
corner, Mullins had a point-blank header expertly tipped over by the goalkeeper. This time the corner came in from the opposite flank and it was third time lucky as Sharps headed home Pringle’s centre to put the Millers ahead.
Exeter 0-1 Millers
The second half began much more pedestrian with the only real opportunity falling to Jimmy Keohane whose effort was high and wide. It wasn’t until the hour mark that the next effort came, and again it was Gow with the danger, with his shot parried by Warrington.
With little action of note, a fine run down the right by Steve Tully led to a centre across the face of goal which Gow and substitute John O’Flynn narrowly missed, did lift the home support. A hanging ball into the Millers’ box on 82 minutes caused some problems, but O’Flynn couldn’t capitalise as it fell in the area.
Gow again was given time on the edge of the box, as the game entered the final six minutes, but after shifting it out of his feet, his shot was comfortable for Warrington. At the other end, a tremendous run by Bradley saw the ball half cleared to Cameron, and when he shot from the corner of the box, Krysiak was able to collect comfortably.
As four minutes of added time was announced, Mitchell Rose, who had only been introduced to the game minutes earlier, mis-timed a challenge, and was shown a red card by referee Oliver Langford, to put a sour note on an otherwise excellent afternoon for the Millers.
Exeter 0-1 Millers
Exeter: Krysiak, Tully ((Dawson 88), Bennett, Baldwin, Coles, Sercombe, Oakley, Gow, Cureton, Doherty (Keohane 28(O’Flynn 59)), Moore-Taylor.
Unused: Evans, Amankwaah, Chamberlain, Reid.
Millers: Warrington, Bradley, Sharps, Mullins, Ridehalgh, Cameron (O’Connell 90), Taylor, O’Connor, Nardiello (Rose 86), Pringle, Revell.
Unused: Thompson, Hunt, Rooney, Walker, Odejayi.
Att: 3954 (205)