The Millers complete their second pre-season fixture...
CONOR Newton’s debut strike for the Millers was cancelled out by a last-gasp leveller by Falkirk’s Botti Biabi as Rotherham United maintained their unbeaten record during their pre-season tour of Scotland.
Kieran Agard’s second goal in as many games equalised Ollie Durojaiye’s early strike and the friendly game looked to be heading for a tame conclusion until the late drama which saw the Millers pegged back.
Following their first pre-season victory over Greenock Morton at the weekend, Millers’ chief Steve Evans continued to rotate his first-team squad to get minutes under their belt with the back-to-back matches at the Falkirk Stadium and Queen of the South tomorrow in mind.
Skipper Craig Morgan made his season bow after shrugging off a minor knock but the Millers’ fans would have to wait to see the first appearances of summer recruits Matt Derbyshire and Kirk Broadfoot, who were all still kept out as a precaution following knocks last week.
Following a slow start, the Millers had the first sight of goal when Ben Pringle’s swirling cross was met by the advancing Newton at the far post, who fired a snap shot which was deflected behind.
The visitors then lost Rob Milsom who left the field after he failed to shrug off an ankle knock he sustained in the early minutes and their mood worsened when Falkirk broke the deadlock with their first attack of note on eight minutes.
Following some good build up play from the hosts, Durojaiye took advantage of the visitors backing off on the edge of the box to fire a rasping effort from 20 yards which whistled into the roof of the net leaving former England U21 ‘keeper Scott Loach grasping at thin air.
The Millers responded positively and fine approach play involving Pringle paved the way for Jordan Bowery, to sneak around the back of the home rearguard, before delivering a tantalising centre which narrowly evaded the attentions of Agard.
However, the visitors did not have to wait long to get back on level terms as they equalised on 22 minutes.
Joe Skarz and sub Michael Tidser combined to give Pringle the opportunity to fire a superb centre which was met by the head of Bowery, who looked a certain scorer, and although his point-blank header crashed against the crossbar, the ball fell invitingly for Agard, who scooped the ball home from close range.
The visitors were lifted by the strike and Will Vaulks’ weak back header almost give Agard another sniff of goal but the home defender recovered to prevent the Millers’ hitman firing goalwards.
At the other end, Liam Dick’s marauding run saw him breeze down the left but he could only fire into the side netting from an acute angle.
Just past the half hour mark, Tidser tried his luck from distance but his tame effort was comfortably gathered by Jamie MacDonald before Tom Taiwo’s volley from Dick’s pinpoint centre narrowly cleared the crossbar.
Half-time:- Falkirk 1 Rotherham United 1
Following the restart, Falkirk had the first sight of goal when Conor McGrandles fired over from the edge of the box after he was the quickest to react following the breakdown of a home free-kick.
Following a sloppy period of play by both sides, the Millers came within a whisker of grabbing the lead when Loach’s long punt upfield held in the wind and Agard got on the wrong side of his marker to advance on goal but ‘keeper MacDonald stood up tall to block his goalbound effort and on the rebound, Bowery instinctively nodded towards goal but it agonisingly rolled the wrong side of the upright.
The home side made a flurry of substitutes with interrupted the tempo of the game but the Millers wasted a gilt-edged chance to take the lead when an incisive ball behind the Falkirk defence opened the way for Bowery to slide a perfectly weighted pass into the path of Agard, who calmly rounded MacDonald but despite having the goal at his mercy, his strike from just yards out cannoned against the post before being diverted to safety.
However, the Millers were rewarded for their pressure when they took the lead with just one minute left on the clock.
Following promptings around the home box, Newton injected pace into the move to jink his way past a couple of defenders before curling a sublime effort which beat the outstretched hand of Graham Bowman to find the far corner of the net.
However, the Millers let the lead slip almost immediately as Falkirk earned a share of the spoils with the last kick of the game.
There looked little danger until a threaded ball from the heart of midfield saw Biabi waltz in-between the Millers’ defence and although Loach attempted to narrow the angle, the home substitute kept his nerve to clip the ball into the corner of the net.
Full-time:- Falkirk 2 Rotherham United 2
Teams:- Falkirk- MacDonald (Bowman 82), Maybury (Rowan 72), Dick, Durojaiye (McNab 85), McCracken (McGeever 46), Vaulks (Grant 74), Alston, Taiwo, Loy (Biabi 76), McGrandles (Leahy 72), Cooper (Shepherd 54). Unused:- Blair, Martin, Hogg.
Rotherham- Loach, Richardson, Skarz, Arnason, Morgan, Milsom (Tidser 8), Hall, Newton, Bowery (Brindley 85), Agard, Pringle. Unused:- Collin, Wood, Revell, Sadler.
Referee:- Calum Murray