ROTHERHAM UNITED gave Premier League Leicester City a run for their money as they suffered a narrow 2-1 defeat at the hands of Claudio Ranieri’s men.
Grant Ward’s late strike proved in vain for Steve Evans’ men, who slipped to just their second defeat in pre-season, as Riyad Mahrez and David Nugent’s second-half goals gave them their second friendly win in 24 hours following a victory at Burton Albion last night.
Following their unbeaten three-game tour of Scotland, the AESSEAL New York Stadium faithful had their first glimpse of summer recruits Kelle Roos, Danny Collins, Aidy White, Greg Halford, Grant Ward and Tom Thorpe while there was a return for Argentine playmaker Emmanuel Ledesma, who put pen to paper on a permanent deal following his loan stint last season.
Ex-Wednesday striker Chris Maguire pulled on the Millers’ shirt for the first time following his switch late last week while former Rotherham loanee Tom Lawrence was named in the Foxes’ starting line-up.
The visitors had the first sight of goal when Ryan Watson cut inside before unleashing an effort from distance which cleared the home crossbar before White was harshly adjudged to have nudged over Lawrence in an inviting position but Mahrez’s inswinging free-kick failed to trouble Roos.
In the Foxes’ next attack, Mahrez was again in the thick of the action as he worked a shooting position to fire a daisycutter which was smartly smothered by Roos before Rotherham suffered a blow when Danny Ward had to be replaced as he failed to shrug off a knock sustained in the early stages of the game.
Just past the half hour mark, Nugent narrowly failed to make contact with Mahrez’s clip over the top before the Millers had their first effort of note when Grant Ward showed fleet of foot just outside the box to present Ledesma with the opportunity to strike a left-footed effort which was smartly gathered by Aussie ‘keeper Mark Schwarzer.
With half-time approaching, Jeff Schlupp fired a rasping effort narrowly wide after Rotherham failed to clear decisively before Mahrez tried his luck from distance but Paul Green managed to stick out a leg to diffuse his effort as Roos collected with a minimum of fuss.
In the final play of the half, Matt Derbyshire showed his experience to win a free-kick on the edge of the box but Ledesma failed to trouble Schwarzer from the resultant set-piece as his curling effort whistled over the bar.
Half-time:- Rotherham United 0 Leicester City 0
Following the interval, the Millers missed a gilt-edged chance to break the deadlock when sub Jordan Bowery found himself through on goal but despite advancing menacingly towards goal, the ex-Villa man fluffed his lines when he screwed his shot narrowly wide.
Minutes later, the home side had strong appeals for a spot-kick when Ritchie De Laet was penalised for hauling over Derbyshire in the box but the referee adjudged the initial infringement was outside the box to the bemusement of the home fans.
In the Foxes first attack of the half, Schlupp’s perfectly weighted pass saw ex-England international Nugent get on the wrong side of the Rotherham backline but on his weaker left-foot, he blazed a shot over when he should have done better.
In the next phase of play, Grant Ward was the architect behind a fine-flowing move which saw Bowery and White combine to see the latter fizz a wicked cross which was diverted to safety by Danny Simpson.
Despite the Millers looking the most likely, Leicester showed their Premier League quality with the opener when Mahrez appeared to be heading down a cul-de-sac but he jinked inside to unleash a rasping left-footed drive from the edge of the box which beat the outstretched dive of Roos to nestle in the far corner of the net.
Just before the hour mark, sub Frazer Richardson’s deflected cross had Schwarzer anxiously looking over his shoulder as it threatened the target before White and Bowery combined smartly to split open the Leicester rearguard but Bowery’s left-footed effort was straight down the throat of Schwarzer.
Minutes later, superb approach play by White gave Ledesma the chance to strike on goal but his effort was blocked by a retreating defender before the Foxes doubled their advantage when following a period of pressure, Schlupp looked to bulldoze his way into the box before paving the way for Nugent to strike a fierce effort from the edge of the box which Roos got a hand to but couldn’t prevent hitting the net.
After sub Lee Frecklington headed wide of the target, the home side halved the deficit near the end when they countered with purpose and Grant Ward showed good footwork to work a shooting position and he made it count when he lashed a swerving effort which deceived Schwarzer in the air as it hit the roof of the net.
Full-time:- Rotherham United 1 Leicester City 2
Teams:- Rotherham- Roos, Collins, Maguire (Richardson 46), D Ward (Bowery 19), Ledesma (Smallwood 71), Green (Frecklington 46), White (Yates 84), Halford (Wood 86), G Ward (Warren 89), Thorpe, Derbyshire (Clarke-Harris 71). Subs- Collin.
Leicester- Schwarzer, De Laet, Drinkwater, Watson, Schlupp, Lawrence, Simpson, Moore, Ulloa, Nugent, Mahrez. Subs- Maddison, Cain, Elder, Panayiotou, Davis, Stankevicius
Referee- M Brown
Attendance- 3678 (524)