Millers 3 v 2 Oldham Athletic, ReportDaniel Nardiello was the Rotherham United hero as his late strike saw his side edge a titanic tussle with ten-man Oldham Athletic.
The ex-Barnsley striker gave the home side the lead from the spot before David Mellor saw red as Cristian Montano levelled on the stroke of half-time.
Matteo Lanzoni gave the Lancastrians the lead before Lee Frecklington levelled matters with a glancing header.
In a grandstand finish, Nardiello struck with a poachers finish to maintain Rotherham’s fantastic start to the season and leave brave Athletic empty-handed.
Following their memorable scalp of Sheffield United last week, Steve Evans made two changes to the starting line-up with Icelandic international Kari Arnason returning at the heart of the home backline at the expense of the injured Craig Morgan while hot-shot Nardiello was given his first start of the season as Pablo Mills dropped to the bench.
The Millers’ were quick out of the blocks and after Kieran Agard was nudged over by Joseph Mills, from the resultant free-kick, Ben Pringle floated an inswinger which saw Alex Revell glance a smart header which was arrowing to the bottom corner until ex-Miller Mark Oxley parried the ball around the post.
At the other end, Pringle tugged down Sidney Schmeltz near the corner flag paving the way for Mills to plant a tantalising cross which bizarrely missed everyone in the six-yard box with Scott Shearer rooted to his line.
The home side had a further let-off when Mellor swung a fantastic ball over the top of Claude Davis which fell invitingly for Danny Philliskirk, whose clever first time ball saw Korey Smith advance menacingly into the box but his low drive was smothered by Shearer.
Minutes later, Agard rose highest to divert a header into the path of Richard Brindley, who weighed up his options before firing a half-volley from distance which flew high into the visiting stand.
With neither side on top, the home side were given the chance to grab a stranglehold on the proceedings on 21 minutes when a long ball forward saw Revell and Nardiello combine to pave the way for Pringle to fire a cross which struck the arms of Lanzoni at point-blank range and referee Clark had no hesitation in pointing to the spot.
From the resultant spot-kick, Nardiello kept his nerve to calmly wrongfoot Oxley to find the bottom corner of the goal.
The Millers’ were buoyed by the goal and Nardiello tormented Lanzoni before floating a cross which Genseric Kusanga had to put behind before Pringle delivered a teasing cross which saw Arnason power a header narrowly over the bar moments later.
Just past the half-hour, Revell hoicked an effort over after Athletic failed to clear an Arnason long-throw before Pringle’s first time cross caused havoc in the visitors’ box and the ball fell invitingly into the path of Nardiello, who beared down on goal but his casual effort was diverted to safety by Oxley.
With half-time approaching, Athletic’s cause was not helped when they were reduced to ten men when Frecklington and Mellor challenged and when the ball had gone the visiting midfielder appeared to kick out at the Millers’ maestro and the referee gave him his marching orders.
However, the game took a turn for the worst for the home side in a frenetic sixty seconds just shy of the interval.
Fine interplay from the home side saw Nardiello play a slide-rule ball into the advancing run of Frecklington, who drilled a low shot which forced Oxley into a superb save to his left.
However, as Athletic cleared the ball upfield, the home side were caught short of numbers’ on the counter and Montano skipped past his marker with a minimum of fuss to advance threateningly to the edge of the box and despite being faced with a narrow angle, the ex-West Ham player fizzed a left-footed effort which flew into the bottom corner of the goal.
Half-time:- Rotherham United 1 Oldham Athletic 1
Following the restart, the game was turned on its head when Oldham stunned the home faithful by taking the lead on 53 minutes.
Following an innocuous foul, Mills floated a hanging cross which saw Adam Rooney rise highest to power a downward header which forced Shearer into a reactive save but Lanzoni was the quickest to react to the loose ball as he nipped infront of Joe Skarz to prod the ball home from close range.
The home side were struggling to find their rhythm and after Montano saw yellow for hauling down Agard in full flow, a sweeping counter by the Lancastrians saw Smith get the better of Brindley and after the ex-Chesterfield full-back failed to clear decisively in the next phase of play, Smith dragged a shot harmlessly wide of the target.
However, against the run of play, the home side were given the perfect lift just past the hour mark thanks to skipper Frecklington.
After Pringle’s initial corner saw Davis crowded out as he looked to head goalwards, from Pringle’s next delivery, Frecklington nipped infront of his marker at the near post to steer a powerful header from point-blank range which flew into the heart of the visitors’ goal.
The home side were sniffing blood and Pringle fired an effort from distance which had Oxley nervously scurrying across goal before Nardiello headed wide as he was the first to meet Skarz’s cross.
The visitors’ were visibly rattled and Oxley saw yellow for time-wasting before Agard wasted a shooting opportunity when he failed to control Nardiello’s fizzed centre.
Moments later, clever footwork around the Athletic box saw Frecklington’s back-heel pave the way for Nardiello to blaze over before Rob Milsom stung the palms of Oxley with a low effort moments later.
Despite the home pressure, Athletic almost stung the home side when sub Jonson Clarke-Harris got the better of sub Pablo Mills before giving Montano the chance to curl a delightful effort which forced Shearer into an acrobatic save.
With time running out, Rotherham swept upfield and Skarz’s pinpoint cross saw Revell power a bullet header from point-blank range which forced Oxley into a fantastic reflex save.
Frecklington then unleashed a fierce effort from distance which looked goalbound but struck a retreating Jonathan Grounds en-route.
However, the Millers’ were rewarded for the pressure when they grabbed the winner to send the New York Stadium into ecstasy.
Following a period of pressure, both Arnason and Revell planted headers into the box and sub Matt Tubbs ghosted in through a ruck of bodies to power a header which Oxley saved at point-blank range and the ball rolled tantalisingly into the path of Nardiello, who was the quickest to react to sweep the ball into the corner of the net.
Full-time:- Rotherham United 3 Oldham Athletic 2
Rotherham- Shearer, Brindley, Arnason, Davis (P Mills 65), Skarz, Agard (Tubbs 79), Milsom, Frecklington, Pringle, Revell, Nardiello (Tidser 90). Unused:- Collin, Hylton, Bradley, Rowe.
Oldham- Oxley, Grounds, Kusunga, Schmeltz, Smith, Rooney (Clarke-Harris 65), Montano (Rusnak 83), Mellor, Lanzoni, J Mills, Philliskirk (Weslowski 44) Unused:- Rachubka, MacDonald, Winchester, Rodgers.
Referee:- R Clark
Attendance:- 8306 (1349)