ROTHERHAM United tasted league defeat at the AESSEAL New York Stadium for the first time this season as Charlton Athletic ran out 2-0 victors, thanks to goals either side of the interval.
The Millers were punished for not taking their chances early in the game when Jamie Proctor scuffed an effort wide from close range before Semi Ajayi bizarrely missed the target with the goal at his mercy.
The Addicks broke the deadlock in the first-half when Patrick Bauer headed home from a corner before Josh Magennis eased the Londoners’ nerves past the hour mark with a point-blank header.
Following their narrow defeat at the hands of Peterborough United in their last league outing, Millers chief Paul Warne kept faith with his starting line-up from London Road.
The Rotherham boss resisted the temptation to include any of his eight midweek changes, who performed admirably at Premier League Huddersfield Town before bowing out of the Carabao Cup.
There was a familiar face in the visitors line-up with Jake Forster-Caskey taking his place in the Addicks engine room while Millers assistant boss Richie Barker faced an early reunion with his former employers after leaving South London in the summer.
In a fast start, the visitors had the first sight of goal when Magennis’ smart lay-off paved the way for Tarique Fosu to burst clear before being hauled over by Ajayi in an inviting position on the edge of the box and from the resultant free-kick, Forster-Caskey curled an effort which struck the Rotherham wall as it flew harmlessly over.
Moments later, Billy Clarke showed fleet of foot to ease past Ajayi as an off-balance Ricky Holmes tried his luck from distance but his tame effort struck Michael Ihiekwe, en-route to goal and the ex-Tranmere defender hacked clear at the second attempt.
In Rotherham’s first foray of note, Proctor was unceremoniously brought down by Ahmed Kashi, who was fortunate to escape sanction, and Joe Newell curled a free-kick into the box and Kieffer Moore rose highest to glance a header which forced Ben Amos into a smart save to his right.
Moments later, the Millers came within a whisker of the opener when smart work from Proctor released Moore, in the channel, who calmly slid the ball through a ruck of bodies in the box and Proctor smartly got the ball under his spell to bear down on goal but under pressure from a retreating Forster-Caskey, the ex-Bradford and Bolton striker could only scuff his effort just inches wide of the far post, despite wrongfooting Amos in the process.
In the home side’s next attack, Joe Mattock threaded the ball into the feet of Moore, whose deft flick on the edge of the box bamboozled his marker, as he drilled a low, left footed effort which stung the palms of Amos.
However, Charlton broke the deadlock on the quarter hour when Magennis won a corner off Ajayi following a run and cross from the left flank and Forster-Caskey swung the resultant corner into the danger area and Patrick Bauer emerged from a host of bodies in the box to plant a powerful downward header which beat the outstretched hand of Richard O’Donnell to find the bottom corner of the home net.
The Millers struggled to regain their composure following the goal and the home side were indebted to a timely offside flag, in the Addicks’ next attack, when Holmes slide-rule pass presented Billy Clarke with an opportunity to strike and the ex-Bradford striker fizzed an effort which flew past O’Donnell to find the home net via the underside of the bar – but any Charlton joy was soon curtailed by the flag.
Moments later, Magennis became the first to see yellow for a hefty foul on Ryan Williams before Rotherham squandered a gilt-edged chance to level matters when Newell floated a corner into the box and Ajayi shrugged off the attentions of his marker to meet his centre, just yards out, but the Rotherham centre-half fluffed his lines when he missed the target with a glancing header despite having the goal at his mercy.
Minutes later, skipper Lee Frecklington clipped a ball to the far post whereby Moore plucked the ball out of the sky to work a shooting opportunity but he screwed his effort wide before the Ipswich loanee got on the end of Williams’ cross from the right flank, in the next home attack, but his bullet header was straight down the throat of Amos, who was well-stationed on his own line.
With half-time approaching, Mattock became the next to earn a yellow card for a scything tackle on Fosu near the touchline before the Millers had O’Donnell to thank for keeping them in the game as he acrobatically palmed Holmes’ rasping effort from just outside the box to safety following good work by Jay Dasilva in the build-up.
In the dying seconds of the half, Forster-Caskey’s curly-wurly from distance dipped narrowly over the Millers bar.
Half-time- Rotherham United 0 Charlton Athletic 1
Following the break, Ihiekwe became the latest to incur the wrath of the referee to earn a caution for a late lunge on Clarke before Charlton failed to deal with a deep cross from the right and Proctor got the ball from under his feet to smash a cross-cum-shot which was smartly diverted to safety by Jason Pearce.
The Millers had a scare when firstly Holmes’ dangerous cross was almost swiped into his own goal by sub Will Vaulks’ before Clarke’s snap shot was deflected behind by Ajayi, as it arrowed towards the home goal.
Moments later, Vaulks’ bobbling cross from the touchline was inches away from Frecklington before Moore failed to get the ball under his spell as the chance was lost before Holmes’ tested O’Donnell with another stinging drive, at the other end.
Just past the hour mark, Taylor’s clipped ball forward saw Moore race clear and the Rotherham frontman spurned the advances of Proctor, on his shoulder, to drill a low effort which Amos smartly smothered before Magennis’ fierce effort from distance whistled narrowly past the home upright.
With just over twenty minutes to go, Charlton took a firm grip on the game by doubling their advantage- in controversial circumstances.
With Rotherham looking to clear their lines, Proctor was felled by a shoulder barge but nothing was awarded and the ball was played to the right flank where Holmes won a battle of wits with Newell to plant a delicate cross which saw O’Donnell grasping at thin air as Magennis towered highest in the six-yard box to nod into the empty net.
The action was Proctor’s last of the afternoon as he was stretched off before play was restarted.
The Millers responded superbly to the setback and Ajayi pounced on a loose ball in the box to fire a fierce effort which was parried to safety by Amos before Newell got the better of Chris Solly to dig out a cross which floated over the Charlton ‘keeper but Kashi showed great awareness to head clear from underneath his own crossbar.
The home side’s frustration boiled over when Vaulks saw yellow for pulling back Forster-Caskey and despite the Millers’ best efforts late on, the Addicks successfully ran down the clock to take the three points to the capital.
Full-time:- Rotherham United 0 Charlton Athletic 2
Rotherham United 0
Charlton Athletic 2
Teams:- Rotherham- O’Donnell, Emmanuel (Vaulks 55), Mattock, Ajayi, Frecklington, Proctor, Potter, Ihiekwe, Newell, Williams (Taylor 46), Moore. Unused- Bilboe, Forde, Purrington, Clarke-Harris, Cummings.
Charlton- Amos, Kashi, Bauer, Pearce, Magennis, Clarke (Novak 85), Holmes (Konsa 89), Fosu (Ahearne-Grant 85), Forster-Caskey, Solly, Dasilva. Unused:- Phillips, Jackson, Crofts, Sarr.
Referee:- T Kettle
Attendance:- 7976 (520)