Agard goal splits the teams...
KIERAN Agard maintained his red hot form infront of goal as his decisive strike earned Rotherham United a morale boosting victory over Nottingham Forest ahead of their Championship campaign.
The Millers hitman struck his third goal in three games in pre-season following goals at Greenock Morton and Falkirk last week.
Following their pre-season tour of Scotland, gaffer Steve Evans paraded nine new signings in their first home outing of the new campaign.
Wickersley-born Frazer Richardson was given one of the full-back slots while ex-Owl Richard Wood was given an opportunity to partner club skipper Craig Morgan at the heart of the Rotherham rearguard.
Ex-Crawley left-back Mat Sadler was given an opportunity to impress at left back while Republic of Ireland midfielder Paul Green donned the Millers’ colours for the first time after he missed the trip north of the border.
Club record signing Jordan Bowery was handed a striking berth alongside Wembley hero Alex Revell but ex-England U21 striker Matt Derbyshire was unable to face his former club as he was still ruled out by injury as he waits for his first Millers appearance.
Following a slow start by both sides, the Millers had the first sight of goal when Revell tumbled under the challenge of ex-Hamburg defender Michael Mancienne on the edge of the box.
From the resultant free-kick, Ben Pringle disappointingly drilled a low effort which cannoned against the Forest wall.
Minutes later, Richardson curled a delightful centre which looked destined for the head of Bowery, who escaped his marker with a darting run but he agonisingly failed to connect with the goal at his mercy.
At the other end, Jamie Paterson challenged fiercely in the middle of the park and the ball fortunately ricocheted into the inviting run of Simon Cox, who rounded Adam Collin before seemingly losing his footing in the box but the referee waved away faint visiting appeals for a spot kick.
Minutes later, Greg Halford cleverly worked a shooting position before firing an effort which narrowly cleared the crossbar before the Millers’ tested Forest ‘keeper Karl Darlow for the first time when good interplay between Richardson and Agard paved the way for the Michael Tidser to curl an effort from just outside the box but the ball was at a good height for the visiting ‘keeper, who made a smart flying save to divert the ball to safety.
Just past the half hour mark, Forest failed to clear decisively and Tidser once again showed fleet of foot to work a yard of space before firing a low effort which was deflected wide before Rotherham came within a whisker of the breakthrough from the resultant corner when Pringle’s tantalising centre caught Darlow in no man’s land and Revell directed a downward header which whistled past the upright.
Minutes later, a fine flowing move by the home side saw Sadler float an inviting centre which saw Revell rise highest to loop a header which struck the underside of the bar but any goal would have been ruled out as the home targetman was adjudged to have illegally towered above his marker.
Half-time:- Rotherham United 0 Nottingham Forest 0
The Millers made a flurry of changes at the break and the home fans saw their first glimpses of ‘keeper Scott Loach, Scotland international Kirk Broadfoot, flying winger Ryan Hall and midfielder Conor Newton.
The home side started the second half as they finished the first when a clever ball into the channel saw Revell play an inviting ball which evaded Agard but Hall pounced on the loose ball to control and fire an effort which had Darlow flying across goal as the ball narrowly evaded the far post.
Just past the hour mark, Revell planted a header narrowly wide of the target before the home side made the deserved breakthrough with 25 minutes left on the clock.
There looked little danger for the visitors until Pringle played a delightful ball which bisected the two Forest central defenders and Agard had acres of space to advance menacingly on goal and despite Darlow racing from his line, the Rotherham striker kept his composure to calmly curl the ball just inside the near post and into the visitors’ goal.
Minutes later, Rotherham gave ex-West Brom midfielder Jonathan Greening a run out in the home engine room as he enjoys a trial period with the club before Forest had a rare foray forward as sub Radoslaw Majewski dragged a shot wide of the target.
Minutes later, the home side had a lucky escape when Louis Laing’s snap cross struck Kari Arnason paving the way for Stephen McLaughlin to fire an instinctive effort which crashed against the crossbar.
With ten minutes to go, Hall fired a deep free-kick which had Darlow at full stretch and from the resultant free-kick, Greening’s fizzing effort from distance was deflected wide of the target.
With time running out, Forest came within a whisker of the equaliser when Dan Harding’s superb cross saw sub Lars Veldwijk get infront of his marker to power a header from point blank range which crashed against the inside of the post before tantalisingly rolling across the face of goal.
Full-time:- Rotherham United 1 Nottingham Forest 0
Teams:- Rotherham- Collin (Loach 46), Richardson (Brindley 46), Wood (Rowe 43, Broadfoot 46), Morgan (Arnason 46), Sadler (Skarz 46), Agard (Walker 88), Tidser (Frecklington 46) , Green (Newton 46), Pringle (Greening 66), Revell (Rose 80), Bowery (Hall 46). Unused:- Thompson.
Notts Forest:- Darlow, Hunt (Vaughan 60), Mancienne (Collins 88), Fox, Harding, Halford (Laing 60), Osborn (Walker 81), Mackie (McLaughlin 60), Reid (Majewski 60), Paterson (Silva 46), Cox (Veldwijk 81).
Referee:- J Moss
Attendance:- 3600 (777).