Full report from the game at the Keepmoat Stadium...SECOND-half strikes from Matt Derbyshire and Ryan Hall earned Rotherham United a morale-boosting pre-season victory over Doncaster Rovers.
The Millers continued their fine pre-season form by putting their near neighbours to the sword in a keenly-contested affair although they were given a scare near the end when Curtis Main reduced the arrears following the double salvo.
For the short hop to the Keepmoat Stadium, the Millers shuffled their pack with Scottish international Kirk Broadfoot given a berth in the heart of the Rotherham rearguard alongside skipper Craig Morgan.
Flying winger Hall was given another opportunity to impress alongside Republic of Ireland international Paul Green in the Millers’ engine room while summer signings Derbyshire and Jordan Bowery, were looking to continue their fine run of form infront of goal in pre-season as they formed a new- look strikeforce for Steve Evans’ men.
Chelsea starlet John Swift was handed a place on the substitutes bench despite only putting pen to paper on a season long loan yesterday.
The home side had the first sight of goal when Kyle Bennett cleverly worked a crossing position to deliver a tantalising cross which narrowly evaded the attentions of Nathan Tyson, who was being well-marshalled by Broadfoot.
At the other end, Joe Skarz’s hanging cross had to be put behind by Cedric Evina and from the resultant corner, Ben Pringle swung a delightful centre which saw Broadfoot rise highest but he couldn’t control his header despite having the goal at his mercy.
The Millers came within a whisker of the breakthrough when Adam Collin’s clearance inavertedly put Bowery in the clear but after shrugging off the attentions of Luke McCullough, the club’s record signing could only scoop the ball over the bar.
Minutes later, a fine flowing move from the Millers paved the way for Richard Brindley to advance down the flank and his perfectly-weighted pull-back looked inviting for the on-rushing Lee Frecklington, but the midfield maestro fluffed his lines when he blazed over the bar when he should have done better.
Just shy of the half hour mark, Green dragged an effort harmlessly wide of the target after the home side failed to clear decisively before Paul Keegan headed straight at ‘keeper Collin following James Coppinger’s free-kick.
The visiting hearts were fluttering when Tyson turned smartly before firing a rasping effort which whistled past the upright before Derbyshire got round the back of the home defence at the other end but his attempted pull-back to Bowery was snuffed out by a last-ditch interception.
The Millers had a lucky escape when Tyson looked to get on the wrong side of Morgan on the edge of the box, who appeared to haul down the home frontman but the referee waved away strong Donny appeals for a spot-kick.
The visitors turned defence into attack in the blink of an eye and they almost rubbed salt into home wounds when Bowery drilled a low effort which had Villa loanee Jed Steer at full stretch before Derbyshire pounced on the loose ball to stroke the ball into the bottom corner, but any joy was curtailed by the offside flag.
Minutes later, Derbyshire was again in the thick of the action as he attempted to wriggle clear on the edge of the box and the ball rolled kindly into the path of Green, who fired an instinctive effort which flew narrowly wide of the target.
Half-time:- Doncaster Rovers 0 Rotherham United 0
Following the restart, the Millers thought they had made the breakthrough with just seconds on the clock when Collin’s punt forward fell invitingly for Bowery, who showed good poise to calmly float the ball over the advancing Steer and despite the ball arrowing goalwards, Derbyshire made sure to force the ball home from point-blank range but frustratingly for the visitors, he was flagged for offside in the process.
The Millers were looking the most likely and following Keegan’s error, Hall throughball saw Bowery cleverly evade the attentions of his marker before drilling an effort from the edge of the box which brought a smart, reflex save from Steer.
However, the visitors were finally rewarded for their pressure with the opening goal eight minutes into the half.
There looked little danger until Pringle floated a delightful centre from the left flank which saw Derbyshire and Evina challenge for the ball in the six-yard box and the ex-Forest striker won the tussle to calmly hoick the ball into the net from point-blank range.
The visitors were visibly lifted by the opener and they doubled their advantage minutes later thanks to a moment of brilliance from Hall.
After the visitors won possession, Derbyshire threaded a ball into the channel and Frecklington calmly weighed up his options before clipping a superb cross which found Hall in acres of space on the edge of the box and the ex-Leeds winger volleyed an effort which hammered into the ground before beating the outstretched hand of Steer to find the corner of the goal.
The goal sparked Evans to rapidly overhaul his team by making seven changes to his side before Coppinger had the home side’s first effort of the half when he fired a dipping effort which failed to trouble sub Scott Loach.
The Millers had an opportunity to extend their advantage when Pringle’s wand of a left foot saw sub Kari Arnason miscue his shot with the goal gaping before the home side failed to clear paving the way for the ex-Derby playmaker to deliver another inviting centre which saw Broadfoot power a bullet header which brought the best out of Steer, who pulled off a fantastic save.
The Millers looked to be coasting to victory until the home side halved the deficit with eight minutes to go.
A clipped ball forward bisected the new Rotherham rearguard of Arnason and Richard Wood and sub Curtis Main showed great control to bring the ball down before keeping his nerve to clip the ball past the advancing Loach.
The home side were sniffing an opportunity and Harry Forrester dragged a shot wide following an incisive run before Conor Newton fired over at the other end as the Millers held on to record victory.
Full-time:- Doncaster Rovers 1 Rotherham United 2
Teams:- Doncaster- Steer, Wabara (Lund 69), Evina, Furman (De Val 58), Jones (Wakefield 46), Bennett (Forrester 46), Robinson (Main 46), McCullough, Tyson (Peterson 73), Keegan, Coppinger. Unused:- Trialist, Whitehouse, Peterson.
Rotherham- Collin (Loach 58), Brindley (Arnason 58), Skarz (Sadler 58), Broadfoot, Hall (Newton 58), Frecklington (Swift 58), Bowery, Green (Tidser 58), Pringle (Milsom 76), Morgan (Wood 58), Derbyshire (Yates 76). Unused:- Revell, Agard.
Referee:- Mark Haywood.