SUPER-SUB Anthony Forde was the Rotherham United hero as his late strike booked the Millers place in the Carabao Cup second round hat at the expense of plucky Lincoln City.
The game looked to be heading to spot kicks after Billy Knott had cancelled Jamie Proctor’s opener, but the Irish winger proved the match winner with 12 minutes to go following a tidy finish from Joe Mattock’s cross.
Following their defeat at the hands of Fleetwood Town at the weekend, Millers chief Paul Warne reshuffled his pack for the visit of the Imps, by making four changes to the starting line-up.
Darren Potter shrugged off illness to make his competitive debut in the home engine room, alongside club skipper Lee Frecklington, who was lining up against his hometown club.
Joe Newell and Australian Ryan Williams were asked to provide the ammunition from the flanks, in their first starts of the season, while Millers debutant Kieffer Moore and Proctor led the home line.
The League Two outfit had the first sight of goal when Neal Eardley got the better of Williams in a duel and Harry Anderson tried his luck from distance but he dragged his effort harmlessly wide of the target.
In the home side’s first foray of note, Frecklington’s cross was diverted behind by Sean Raggett before the visitors had the highly-rated centre-half to thank for preventing Semi Ajayi heading goalwards from Proctor’s hooked centre.
Moments later, Frecklington’s snap effort was blocked en-route to goal by Rob Dickie after Moore had sneaked behind the Lincoln rearguard before Matt Green almost capitalised on Ajayi’s error to bare down on goal, at the other end, but Josh Emmanuel spared the home defender’s blushes with a timely tackle before the Lincoln striker could get his shot away.
Proctor and Moore had linked up smartly in the early stages and the duo combined to great effect when the ex-Bolton and Bradford striker put Moore in the clear and the Ipswich loanee instinctively poked towards goal but Josh Vickers showed good reflexes to parry his goalbound shot to safety.
Mattock became the first to see yellow for bundling over Green after the referee had played an advantage to the visitors following an earlier infringement by Michael Ihiekwe. From the resultant free-kick, Green headed wide from Jordan Maguire-Drew’s tantalising centre but any goal would have been chalked off for a visitors foul in the box.
Just before the half hour mark, Lincoln failed to deal with Richard O’Donnell’s punt forward which skimmed off the wet AESSEAL New York Stadium surface and Moore latched onto the loose ball but the tall striker failed to make count as he blazed an effort high into the visitors’ faithful behind the goal.
Moments later, Michael Bostwick bravely threw his body in the way of Frecklington’s skimming shot before Newell shrugged off the attentions of a close marker to advance menacingly towards the visitors’ box but he screwed his shot harmlessly wide of the target.
The Millers were having their best spell of the game and they were rewarded for their efforts when Mattock showed good awareness to pull the ball back into Proctor, who had peeled off from the Lincoln defence and the Rotherham frontman unleashed a rasping effort, from just outside of the box, which whistled past the outstretched hand of Vickers to nestle in the visitors goal.
However, the Millers joy almost proved short-lived after Maguire-Drew curled an inswinging corner which saw Raggett rise highest at the far post to bundle the ball towards goal and although a goal kick was awarded, O’Donnell can take credit for superbly diverting the ball to safety at his near post.
Half-time- Rotherham United 1 Lincoln City 0
The visitors were quick out of the blocks at the start of the second half and after Rotherham failed to clear a corner decisively, Maguire-Drew planted a superb centre which saw Raggett ghost in almost unnoticed at the far post but O’Donnell came to the Millers’ rescue with a superb reflex save from his point-blank header.
At the other end, Proctor’s slide-rule pass released Moore, whose cross-cum-shot took a wicked deflection of a retreating defender to force Vickers into palming the ball over his own crossbar before Raggett became the next to incur the wrath of the referee by unceremoniously hauling down Moore, near the touchline, to earn a booking.
Just before the hour mark, Freckington, Moore and Williams laid the groundwork for Newell to dance into the box but his shot looped into the grateful hands of Vickers before Frecklington skipped to the byline to pull the ball into the path of Williams, who failed to make a clean connection from close range, as Vickers smothered the ball on his own line.
The Millers were looking to kill off the tie and Newell curled an inviting corner which saw Ihiekwe emerge from the ruck of bodies in the box to plant a header which Vickers was forced to tip over.
However, the home side were punished for their inability to add a second goal when an innocuous ball forward was not dealt with by Ajayi, who reacted slowly to the danger before smashing the ball into Knott, who got the ball under his spell before wrongfooting O’Donnell in the Millers goal with a calm finish.
Minutes later, sub Ollie Palmer found himself in the book for dissent for disputing a throw-in award before Proctor’s deft flick paved the way for Newell to drive hard at the Lincoln defence to power a fierce effort which had Vickers at full stretch to keep the ball out.
With the tie in the balance, the Millers scored the decisive winner when Proctor glanced a header narrowly wide before Mattock picked up the pieces to exchange passes with Newell before playing an inviting centre into the danger area which paved the way for Forde, to nip infront of his marker and slide the ball into the corner of the visitors goal giving Vickers no chance.
The visitors refused to throw in the towel and Anderson flashed an effort narrowly wide following a quick counter attack before Palmer cut inside Ajayi to sting the palms of O’Donnell, who gathered at the second attempt.
In the dying minutes, sub Jonson Clarke-Harris almost made an immediate impression from the bench but his stinging effort from distance threatened the home crowd rather than the visitors’ goal before Forde almost put the icing on the cake with a late free-kick which shaved the Lincoln upright.
Full-time- Rotherham United 2 Lincoln City 1
Teams:- Rotherham- O’Donnell, Emmanuel, Mattock, Ajayi, Frecklington (Vaulks 90), Proctor (Clarke-Harris 87), Potter, Ihiekwe, Newell, Williams (Forde 63), Moore. Unused- Bilboe, David Ball, Taylor, Purrington.
Lincoln- Vickers, Long, Green (Palmer 63), Knott (Rhead 82), Maguire-Drew (Arnold 67), Dickie, Bostwick, Eardley, Raggett, Anderson, Woodyard. Unused- Farman, Whitehouse, Howe, Chapman.
Referee- S Stockbridge
Attendance- 5489 (1706)