Wood nets Millers winner....
RICHARD Wood was the Rotherham United hero as his second-half header proved the difference as the Millers earned their second victory on the road, at the expense of Rochdale.
Following a goalless first-half, Wood rose majestically from Anthony Forde’s corner to net the all-important winner in front of a vociferous travelling Millers contingent.
Following their narrow home victory over Northampton Town last weekend, Millers chief Paul Warne made two changes to his starting line-up for the trip over the Pennines.
Richard O’Donnell returned between the Millers sticks with Marek Rodak on international duty with Slovakia Under 21s while Forde was given a chance to impress with Joe Newell ruled out because of injury.
The Millers were quick out of the blocks and after Ryan Williams forced an early corner, Darren Potter had the first sight of goal- with a stinging effort from distance which flew harmlessly over the home bar.
Visiting hopes suffered an early blow when Lee Frecklington went down unchallenged and following treatment, the Rotherham skipper was withdrawn with what appeared to be a muscular injury as Will Vaulks entered the fray.
In Rochdale’s first foray of note, Donervon Daniels got the better of Forde to dig out a cross from the right flank which saw Steven Davies rise highest to plant a looping header which forced O’Donnell to backtrack towards his own goal to pluck the ball out of the Lancashire sky.
The former Sheffield United striker was in the thick of the early action and he almost broke the deadlock in spectacular style when he latched onto Daniels’ throw to arrow a left-footed effort from long range which looked to be dipping over the stranded O’Donnell, but fortunately for the Millers, the ball whistled narrowly over the visitors goal.
At the other end, Forde swung a tantalising free-kick into the danger area and Vaulks ghosted in unchallenged to power a downward header which looked destined for the bottom corner of the Dale goal until Josh Lillis’ late intervention, as he parried the ball around the post.
From the resultant corner, Wood’s header was blocked en-route to goal before Potter’s snap effort was deflected over. The home side were indebted to Lillis for keeping the scores level when Potter turned creator with a lovely through ball to Richie Towell but the home stopper was quick off his line to smother the danger as the Brighton loanee looked to lob the ball into the unguarded home goal.
The Millers squandered an opportunity to break the deadlock when Williams’ defence splitting pass gave Forde, a glimpse of goal, but the Irishman, under pressure from Daniels, could only scuff a tame effort into the grateful hands of Lillis.
With half-time approaching, Davies won a tussle with Wood before blazing a long-range effort into the stand behind the goal before Joe Bunney became the first to see yellow for a scything tackle on Williams, which left the Australian needing lengthy treatment.
In the last noteworthy action of the half, Davies showed fleet of foot to clip a ball over Shaun Cummings but the ball skipped off the wet Spotland surface enabling O’Donnell to punch clear before Ian Henderson could latch onto the through ball.
Half-time- Rochdale 0 Rotherham United 0
Just seconds into the second half, MJ Williams became the latest to see yellow before the same player hauled over Potter in an inviting position on the edge of the box but Forde failed to exact retribution with the resultant free-kick when his curling effort cleared the Rochdale wall but also the home goal.
The home fans were incensed when Jim McNulty received a belated yellow card for hauling down Moore, as he looked to race clear and Potter floated a seemingly over-hit centre which was misjudged by Lillis in the air, who luckily bundled the ball wide.
However, Lillis was made to pay for his error, from the resultant corner, when Forde’s floated centre was met by the head of Wood, who powerfully headed home from close range. Despite Lillis getting a hand to his effort, the Rotherham centre-half wheeled away in delight, as the ball nestled in the corner of the home goal.
However, Rotherham’s joy almost proved short lived when firstly Bunney planted a corner into the danger area and Davies emerged from a ruck of bodies to smash a header against the upright. In the home side’s next attack, Bunney’s corner was met by the head of Henderson but to the visitors’ relief, Vaulks was well-stationed on his own line to head clear.
At the other end, Potter clipped a delicate cross which saw Wood on the rampage again, but he headed over when he should have done better before Henderson was cautioned for cynically hauling down Williams in full flow.
There was a flurry of cards as Potter became the next to incur the wrath of the referee for hauling over Matt Done before Towell embarked on a lung-bursting run from halfway to power a rasping effort from distance which stung the palms of Lillis.
In stoppage time, Rochdale missed a gilt-edged chance to level matters when Bunney’s hanging cross was headed back across goal by Davies into the path of sub Bradden Inman, who looked a certain scorer, but he blasted over from close range with the goal at his mercy.
Full-time- Rochdale 0 Rotherham United 1
Rotherham United 1
Teams:- Rochdale- Lillis, McNulty, McGahey, Camps (Inman 71), M Williams, Rathbone (Andrew 61), Done (Slew 81), Davies, Daniels, Bunney, Henderson. Unused- Rafferty, Ntlhe, J Williams, Inman, B Moore
Rotherham- O’Donnell, Mattock, Wood, Forde (Ajayi 88), Frecklington (Vaulks 3), Potter, Towell, Ihiekwe, R Williams, K Moore (Clarke-Harris 90), Cummings. Unused- Price, Emmanuel, Ball, Yates.
Referee- D Coote