Birmingham 0 v 2 Rotherham - Report
ROTHERHAM United earned back-to-back victories for the first time since they returned to the Championship as they put Birmingham City to the sword following a superb display in the West Midlands.
Matt Derbyshire came back to haunt his former club with a first-half opener before Norwich loanee Tony Andreu capped off a polished display with a well-taken second to secure the Millers’ first victory over the Blues since 1989.
Following their last-gasp victory over Cardiff City last time out, the Millers fielded an unchanged line-up for their visit to St Andrew’s.
Scottish international Kirk Broadfoot was named among the substitutes bench for the first time this season after the completion of his suspension while club skipper Lee Frecklington was again ruled out because of a calf injury.
The Millers were quick out of the blocks and Andreu looked to weave a way to goal but his shot was blocked by Jonathan Spector before Vadis Odjidja-Ofoe pounced on the loose ball to fire a snap volley from the edge of the box which stung the palms of Tomasz Kuszczak.
At the other end, the Millers failed to deal with a long punt forward from Kuszczak and Jon Toral took advantage of the indecision to drill a low effort from distance which had Lee Camp at full stretch before Paul Caddis squeezed between two defenders to burst into the box but his effort was blocked en-route to goal.
Minutes later, Camp’s clearance was superbly flicked on by Jonson Clarke-Harris into the advancing run of Andreu, but the Frenchman dragged his shot well wide of the target before Clarke-Harris was again the architect in the Millers’ next attack when his lay-off paved the way for Joe Newell to try his luck from distance but his speculative half-volley blazed over the bar.
Just past the quarter hour, highly-rated Demarai Gray embarked on a menacing run and shot with failed to trouble Camp in the visitors goal before Clarke-Harris made something out of nothing to pluck a long ball out of the sky before drilling a low effort which was arrowing towards the bottom corner until Kuszczak’s late intervention.
The home side were had indebted to the Polish stopper for keeping the scores level when fine interplay from the Millers’ involving Andreu and Odjidja-Ofoe paved the way for Clarke-Harris to give Newell a glimpse of goal and the ex-Peterborough midfielder curled a right-footed effort which brought the best out of the home ‘keeper, who parried the ball to safety.
Just past the half-hour mark, the Millers were rewarded for their pressure when they broke the deadlock following a superb counter attack.
The Millers picked up the ball deep in their own half and with Odjidja-Ofoe leading the cavalry charge, Newell advanced menacingly into the Blues half before playing a superb ball over the top and Derbyshire managed to get a yard on his marker and evade the offside trap to control superbly before volleying into the bottom right hand corner of the goal giving Kuszczak no chance.
The visitors were buoyed by the breakthrough and with the Blues defence at sixes and sevens, Derbyshire had a header blocked before trying an acrobatic effort which fizzed narrowly over the home bar.
The home side were struggling to find their rhythm but Donaldson had a sniff of goal when he had Farrend Rawson in a daze to spin smartly in the box but Danny Collins put his body on the line to snuff out the danger before David Cotterill raced down the left flank before pulling the ball back to Gray, who looked a likely scorer, but he fluffed his lines when he blazed over the bar.
With half-time approaching, Derbyshire was bundled over by the touchline and from the resultant free-kick, Odjidja-Ofoe curled a superb centre which was cleared by a retreating Blues defender and Newell struck an instinctive effort which whistled narrowly over the home crossbar.
Half-time:- Birmingham City 0 Rotherham United 1
The Blues were quickly on the offensive after the interval and Gray waltzed past Lewis Buxton and Odjidja-Ofoe before striking an effort which was blocked by Richie Smallwood before Michael Morrison rose highest from the resultant corner but Andreu was well-stationed to hack clear from near his own line.
Moments later, the lively Gray fired a dangerous centre which Donaldson almost turned home at the back post before the visiting fans’ had their hearts in their mouths when Cotterill’s corner saw Toral climb with Camp, with the former heading goalwards but the referee adjudged that the Blues forward had used his arm for leverage and a foul was awarded.
Just before the hour mark, Clarke-Harris was hauled over by Spector on the edge of the box but Andreu failed to make the home side pay as he fired the resultant free-kick well over the bar before Andreu’s slide-rule pass gave Odjidja-Ofoe a sight of goal but he fired over the bar from just outside the box.
However, the Millers stunned the home faithful when doubled their advantage with 26 minutes remaining when Andreu scored his first goal for the club.
There looked little danger until Stephen Gleeson dallied in possession on the edge of the box and Andreu was on his toes to rob him of possession before ghosting into the box to fire a low left-footed effort which arrowed past the outstretched hand of Kuszczak to nestle in the bottom corner of the net.
The Blues sparked to life and sub Andrew Shinnie had an opportunity to drag the home side back into the game but he fired over before Gray blazed an effort well wide moments later.
Caddis dragged a cross-cum-shot across the face of goal before Rawson made a superb tackle on Donaldson to prevent the home side striking goalwards in the home side’s next attack.
Collins showed his experience to divert Gray’s dangerous centre to safety before Rotherham wasted an opportunity to seal the deal when sub Danny Ward and Odjidja-Ofoe led a three-on-two situation but the move lost momentum as Andreu fired over from a promising position.
With time running out, Danny Ward skipped to the byline before playing an inviting centre which almost saw Derbyshire add a third but he missed his kick with the goal at his mercy before Odjidja-Ofoe fired narrowly wide but it mattered little as the Millers earned their first away victory of the campaign to send the vocal travelling contingent home happy.
Full-time:- Birmingham City 0 Rotherham United 2
Teams:- Birmingham- Kuszczak, Grounds, Kieftenbeld (Shinnie 62), Gray, Gleeson, Donaldson, Cotterill (Brock-Madsen 73), Toral (Maghoma 62), Spector, Morrison, Caddis. Unused- Legzdins, Robinson, Solomon-Otabor, Davis.
Rotherham- Camp, Buxton, Mattock, Collins, Clarke-Harris (D Ward 72), Rawson, Newell, Andreu (G Ward 80), Odjidja-Ofoe, Derbyshire (Maguire 89), Smallwood. Unused- Collin, Broadfoot, Ledesma, Halford.
Referee:- A Woolmer
Attendance- 17307 (878).