Millers remain unbeaten at home...
ROTHERHAM UNITED made it two wins out of two at their New York Stadium home as their first-half blitz saw off Yorkshire rivals Bradford City.
Michael O’Connor gave the Millers the perfect start in the opening minutes before further strikes from Gareth Evans and Ben Pringle gave the home side a comfortable half-time cushion.
Evans then put the icing on the cake on a polished performance with his second of the afternoon against his former employers with just minutes remaining.
Manager Steve Evans reshuffled his pack as he recalled O’Connor and Daniel Naridello to the starting line-up at the expense of Lionel Ainsworth and Jason Taylor, who dropped to the bench with Nardiello coming into the game on the back of a reserve hat-trick in midweek.
However, it was the summer signing from Scunthorpe who rewarded his manager’s faith when the Millers broke the deadlock with their first attack on note with just two minutes on the clock.
There looked little danger with both sides battling for possession but the ball fell kindly for O’Connor, who weighed up his options before unleashing a fierce drive from 25 yards which flew past the outstretched hand of Matt Duke, before nestling into the bottom corner of the goal.
In a lively opening, James Hanson forced Scott Shearer into a smart save before Kyel Reid flashed an effort which whistled across the area as Bradford threatened at the other end.
Just past the quarter hour, Kari Arnason floated a cross which was only half-cleared by Andrew Davies paving the way for ex-Bantam, Evans to volley over from just outside the box before a long punt forward by Duke saw Hanson flick the ball invitingly into the path of Nahki Wells, who fizzed an effort narrowly over the bar at the other end.
However, the Millers stunned the visitors by doubling their advantage after 24 minutes following a fast-flowing move.
Following promptings in and around the visitors’ box, O’Connor found a yard of space on the left-wing before floating a delightful cross which narrowly evaded Nardiello, but the ball fell kindly for the unmarked Evans, who drilled a superb effort into the heart of the net which gave Duke no chance.
The Millers were lifted by the double strike and Nardiello stung the palms of Duke with an effort from distance before the visitors almost halved the arrears fortuitously when Reid’s mis-hit cross had Shearer backtracking nervously but the ex-Crawley stopper managed to get a hand to divert the ball to safety.
The visitors’ frustration was summed up when Nathan Doyle was yellow-carded for a mistimed tackle on Nardiello following a lightning home attack and he almost made them pay in the next phase of play but his glancing header from Pringle’s cross failed to trouble Duke.
However, the Millers didn’t have to wait long to add a third just minutes later.
Following a period of head tennis, the ball fell into the path of Pringle, who advanced with menace from the heart of midfield and with the visitors’ defence retreating to the edge of their own box; the ex-Derby midfielder struck a superb skimming drive which struck the upright before finding its way into the net.
With half-time approaching, Rory McArdle found himself in the book following a cynical lunge on Pringle but from the resultant free-kick, O’Connor curled his effort over the bar from an inviting position.
At the other end, Bradford believed they had gained a foothold in the proceedings when Doyle forced Shearer into a reflex save before Wells blasted into the roof of the net but his joy turned to despair as he was adjudged offside.
Deep in stoppage time, Zavon Hines became the third Bradford player to be shown the yellow-card following a late lunge on O’Connor.
Half-time:- Rotherham United 3 Bradford City 0
Following the restart, the visitors started on the offensive and Reid fired a dipping effort which fizzed narrowly over before Evans was shown the yellow card for clumsily bundling over Reid minutes later.
In their first foray of the half, Rotherham came within a whisker of adding a fourth when Pringle’s inswinging corner found the head of Ian Sharps, who headed back into the path of Kayode Odejayi, who nodded goalwards but Gary Jones was stationed at his post to head the ball clear from his own-line.
The home side were looking to most likely to extend their lead and David Noble threaded a pass into Naridello, who spun Luke Oliver with ease to drill a low effort which Duke blocked with his legs before Evans blasted over the rebound.
With 15 minutes remaining, Hanson’s instinctive half-volley failed to trouble Shearer before sub Alan Connell’s mazy run and shot was comfortably gathered by the home stopper.
At the other end, Noble’s deft flick paved the way for O’Connor, to power a volley which forced Duke into an acrobatic save before Evans rubbed salt into the visitors’ wounds as he added a fourth with four minutes remaining.
The Millers were teasing and tormenting their visitors around their own box and Evans injected pace into the move by cutting inside before unleashing a low drive from the edge of the box which flew past Duke at his near post.
Full-time:- Rotherham United 4 Bradford City 0
Rotherham:- Shearer, Bradley, Arnason, Sharps, Wilson, Noble, O’Connor (Taylor 84), Pringle (Ainsworth 87), Evans, Odejayi, Nardiello (Revell 76). Unused:- Warrington, Mullins, Agard, Denton
Bradford:- Duke, Meredith, Davies, Oliver, Reid, Hanson, Jones, Hines (Atkinson 46), Wells (Connell 75), McArdle, Doyle (Thompson 70). Unused:- McLaughlin, Darby, Hannah, McHugh
Referee:- M Brown