Port Vale 6 v 2 Rotherham
Rotherham United were hit for six goals at Vale Park as former striker Tom Pope netted four times. The Millers were 4-1 down at half-time, and despite scoring from an early penalty in the second half couldn't overturn the deficit. Michael O'Connor gave them a lifeline late in the first half with the scores already at 4-0.
Manager Steve Evans made five changes to the side that was beaten by York City in the Johnstone's Paint Trophy, with a competitive debut also being handed to Nicky Hunt.
A display of counter-attacking football benefited Port Vale, as O’Connor’s volley 20 seconds in was the only time the Millers attacked before finding themselves 4-0 down midway through the first period.
Five minutes in, David Noble was dispossessed on the edge of the area by Louis Dodds, and a breakaway by the home side led to them cutting the Millers defence open, allowing Dodds to slide the ball under the onrushing Scott Shearer to finish the move he started.
The Millers immediately looked to get back in the game, but 10 minutes later, found themselves two goals behind; former striker Tom Pope heading home emphatically from six yards after another break by Vale resulted in Chris Shuker being allowed time to cross from the right hand side.
Former Dundee United man Jennison Myrie-Williams was pulling the strings for Micky Adams’ side, and the winger should have made it three, only to see Shearer pull off a fine save after he tried to poke it past him six yards out. However, Shearer was beaten for a third time two minutes later as Ashley Vincent fed Sam Morsy whose centre found Pope who doubled his tally despite the best efforts of the Millers stopper.
It appeared to be game over 25 minutes in as Vincent, a summer target for the Millers collected the ball from Ben Pringle’s corner and sprinted half the length of the field before unleashing a shot past Shearer at his near post from 20 yards.
O’Connor gave the visitors a lifeline on the half hour mark, collecting a ball from Pringle after Kayode Odejayi had done well to rescue Gareth Evans’ centre and slotting home from the right hand side of the area.
Port Vale 4-1 Millers
Craig Morgan was introduced at half-time for his debut, and the second half started much better for the Millers who were looking to overturn the four goal deficit. With five minutes played, Nardiello picked the ball up in the area skipped by a challenge before being brought down right on the edge of the area. From the resulting free-kick, the referee pointed to the spot after O’Connor’s effort was judged to have hit a hand in the wall. Nardiello stepped up, firing low and hard to the ‘keeper’s left to make it 4-2 and give the visitors a lifeline.
However, with things going the Millers’ way, on 65 minutes, Johnny Mullins, now operating at right-back headed a Vale free-kick against his own post allowing Pope to tap in on the line and claim his hat-trick.
The Millers again pushed forward and looked for a third goal, before Pope claimed his fourth and sealed the game for the Valiants. A mix-up at the back led to Morgan’s header falling kindly at the feet of the striker, who rolled the ball past Shearer to make it 6-2.
Port Vale 6-2 Millers
Port Vale: Neal, McCombe, Loft, Dodds, Myrie-Williams (Taylor 82), Pope, McDonald (Owen 80), Shuker, Morsy, Vincent (Williamson 89), Duffy.
Unused: Johnson, Yates, Burge, Lloyd
Millers: Shearer, Hunt (Morgan HT), Sharps, Mullins, Wilson (Tonge 32), Evans (Ainsworth 77), Noble, O’Connor, Pringle, Nardiello, Odejayi
Unused: Warrington, Taylor, Revell, Agard
Att: 5,44 (757)