Ball's brace earns Millers comeback win
DAVID Ball was the Rotherham United hero as his second and third league goals of the season turned the tide of their encounter with Blackpool to earn the Millers their first win in eight games.
Kelvin Mellor put the Seasiders ahead at the interval with a fantastic strike from the edge of the box but Ball levelled matters with a predatory effort from close range before sending the thousand strong Millers faithful wild with a brave header from close range – with three minutes to go.
Following the narrow defeat at the hands of Bristol Rovers last time out, Millers boss Paul Warne reshuffled his pack for the trip to Bloomfield Road.
In an attempt to cure recent defensive difficulties, Warne reverted to a 3-5-2 formation with Semi Ajayi, Richard Wood and Michael Ihiekwe asked to ply their trade as a central three. Josh Emmanuel and Joe Mattock provided the width from wing back berths while Will Vaulks and Richie Towell returned to the Millers engine room.
With top-scorer Kieffer Moore ruled out because of his red-card at the Memorial Stadium, Ball was partnered by Jonson Clarke-Harris, who was handed his first league start of the campaign.
In the early minutes, Rotherham had the first sight of goal when Mattock hooked over a cross from the left flank and Ajayi rose highest in the box but the former Nigerian youth international could not control his header, as it blazed over the bar before Emmanuel made good progress on the opposite side to deliver a tantalising centre which was inch-perfect for the rising Clarke-Harris, who headed narrowly wide of the target.
In Blackpool’s first foray of note, Kelvin Mellor towered highest to meet Clark Robertson’s corner but his header was deflected over before former Liverpool midfielder Jay Spearing was fortunate to escape sanction for a hefty challenge on David Ball, near the touchline, who ended up careering into the advertising hoardings.
Moments later, Towell latched onto a weak Blackpool clearance to unleash an ambitious volley from distance but he failed to trouble Ryan Allsop in the home goal before Ajayi’s pinpoint pass sent Clarke-Harris away on the right, who delivered a cross which had Allsop backtracking nervously, as it floated towards goal but no Millers’ runners were able to meet his centre.
Despite the Millers’ promptings, Blackppol took the lead against the run of play on 21 minutes when Viv Solomon-Otabor dug out a cross from the left flank which flew across the Millers box into the path of the onrushing Mellor, who struck a fantastic effort on the run with the outside of his boot and the ball found the Millers net via the inside of the post.
The hosts were buoyed by the strike and Andy Taylor flashed a cross into the danger area which narrowly evaded the attentions of Sean Longstaff, who attempted to turn the ball home from close range before Wood became the first to see yellow for abruptly halting the run of sub Nathan Delfouneso, near the by line.
Fellow centre-half Ihiekwe soon joined him in the book following a foul in an aerial duel with Colin Daniel before Wood put his body on the line to block Daniel’s snap shot, in the home side’s next attack.
In the last action of the half, Ball got on the wrong side of his marker to clip a cross which appeared to strike the arm of Clark Robertson in the box, but the referee waved away faint Rotherham appeals for a spot-kick.
Half-time- Blackpool 1 Rotherham United 0
Following a lacklustre Millers showing at the end of the first half, Warne made a double substitution at the break with Anthony Forde and Jerry Yates introduced at the expense of Ihiekwe and Clarke-Harris.
The move almost paid dividends when Ball’s neat flick paved the way for Williams to race clear down the left flank before pulling the ball back into the Yates, who looked to turn the ball home from just yards out, but Robertson came out of nowhere to block his goalbound effort and preserve the home side’s slender lead.
Moments later, Vaulks became the next to reach the by line to give Ball, a sight of goal but his snap effort was blocked by a retreating Tangerine defender before the Millers had Rodak to thank for keeping them in the game with a smart, smothered save from Solomon-Otabor following good work by Delfouneso.
Just past the hour mark, Daniel became the next to incur the wrath of the referee by earning a caution for a late foul on Vaulks and the ex-Falkirk midfielder was in the thick of the action, as he latched onto the ball to strike an effort which took a deflection enabling Allsop to gather with a minimum of fuss on his own line before the home defence overplayed at the back gifting Yates an opportunity to bare down on goal but he blazed his shot into the Millers faithful behind the goal – when he should have done better.
Moments later, Rotherham came within a coat of paint of the equaliser when Forde delivered an inviting centre into the box which saw Wood, stoop low to head goalwards but the ball agonisingly struck the underside of the bar before falling to safety.
At the other end, Blackpool missed an opportunity to kill off the Millers when a fine run and pass from Solomon-Otabor paved the way for Delfouneso, to strike towards goal but he fluffed his lines with a clipped effort which sailed harmlessly over.
The Millers deservedly got themselves back on level terms with 13 minutes remaining when Vaulks’ long throw into the box was flicked on into the danger area and with no home defender taking charge, Ball pounced on the loose ball to smash home from close range.
Warne’s men were pushing for the winner and Forde had a low shot deflected narrowly wide of the target before Ball notched the decisive winner with three minutes to go.
Will Aimson’s wayward clearance gifted Rotherham a corner and Forde delivered another dangerous centre into the box and Ball showed fleet of foot to nip infront of Taylor, to power a header into the roof of the Blackpool net from point-blank range to send the visiting faithful into delirium.
Full-time- Blackpool 1 Rotherham United 2
Rotherham United 2
Teams:- Blackpool- Allsop, Mellor, Taylor, Robertson, Aimson, Vassell (Delfouneso 10), Ryan, Longstaff (Cooke 82), Solomon-Otabor, Daniel, Spearing (Philliskirk 89). Unused- Williams, D’Almeida, Gnanduillet, Quigley.
Rotherham- Rodak, Emmanuel, Mattock (Cummings 87), Vaulks, Ajayi, Wood, Ball, Clarke-Harris (Yates 46), Ihiekwe (Forde 46), Williams. Unused- O’Donnell, Onariase, Wiles
Referee- P Bankes