Moore's goal in vain....
KIEFFER Moore’s 12th goal of the season proved in vain as Rotherham United tasted home league defeat for the first time since August following a 3-1 reversal at the hands of Gillingham.
Josh Parker gave the Kent side the early initiative before former Millers loanee Tom Eaves came back to haunt his former club with a smart header.
Moore gave the Millers hope with a fantastic strike before Parker struck late on to bring the Millers’ impressive run of five straight victories at the AESSEAL New York Stadium to an abrupt end.
Following their six-goal thriller at Oxford United, in their last outing, Millers boss Paul Warne made three changes to his starting line-up for the visit of the Gills.
Skipper Richard Wood returned at the heart of the Rotherham rearguard while Shaun Cummings was given a chance to impress in the right-back slot as Josh Emmanuel had to settle for a substitutes berth.
Darren Potter made a welcome return to the Millers fold following an Achilles injury with Will Vaulks missing out after accumulating his fifth booking of the season at the Kassam Stadium.
There was a familiar face in the Gills line-up as former loanee Eaves spearheaded the visitors attack alongside Elliott List.
The visitors stunned the home faithful by breaking the deadlock, in their first foray of note, when Eaves pounced on a miscommunication between Marek Rodak and Michael Ihiekwe to earn a corner and the visitors made the Millers pay when Billy Bingham swung a tantalising centre into the danger area and Parker emerged from a ruck of bodies in the six-yard box to power a point-blank header into the heart of the home goal giving Rodak no chance.
The Millers were visibly rattled by the early setback before Joe Mattock floated a centre which hung in the wind but Tomas Holy kept his nerve to win the aerial duel with Moore before Ryan Williams’ purposeful run was illegally halted by Bradley Garmston on the edge of the box to pave the way for Joe Newell to curl a delicious centre which narrowly Potter before finding Wood at the far post, but the ball had crossed the whitewash before being hooked back into the box by the home skipper.
Moments later, the Millers were indebted to Ihiekwe, for a timely sliding tackle with Eaves poised to shoot following good work by Lee Martin before Richie Towell’s assist presented Newell with the opportunity to strike from distance and the ex-Peterborough midfielder duly obliged with a fierce effort which stung the palms of Holy, who gathered at the second attempt.
In the next Millers’ attack, Towell was again the provider with a slide rule pass as Williams cut inside with menace before striking a left-footed effort from the edge of the box but Holy was well-positioned to snuff out the danger before good work by Anthony Forde and Towell in the build-up gave Cummings the opportunity to drill a low effort goalwards but Holy was again Rotherham’s equal with a sprawled save to his left-hand side.
In a game devoid of clear-cut chances, Newell dinked a delicate cross into the Gills box and Moore rose with menace but the Ipswich loanee could not keep his header down from eight yards, as it blazed over the visitors bar before Owls loanee Sean Clare embarked on a marauding run from deep inside his own half which was abruptly halted by a retreating Wood.
From the resultant short free-kick, Bingham clipped a tantalising cross which saw Eaves plant a point-blank header which was smartly saved by Rodak before the Slovakian stopper denied the former Miller at his feet, from the rebound – although any goal would have been ruled out for offside.
Half-time- Rotherham United 0 Gillingham 1
Following the break, Gillingham took a firm grip on the game when they doubled their lead, just two minutes into the half.
Martin switched play to the right flank and Jake Hessenthaler fizzed an inch-perfect centre into the box and Eaves, who had ghosted away from his marker, carefully steered a point-blank header which beat the outstretched hand of Rodak to nestle in the home net.
In an attempt to spring the Millers to life, Warne made a double substitution with Jon Taylor and David Ball entering the fray but it was the Gills, who threatened the Millers goal, when Eaves stripped Wood of possession near the touchline before racing into the box but Ihiekwe telegraphed his reverse pass to Parker, who would have been a likely scorer with the goal at his mercy until the ex-Tranmere defender’s timely intervention.
However, the Millers gave themselves a much-needed lifeline, just before the hour mark, when Gillingham failed to deal with an arrowed ball forward from Potter and Moore managed to get on the wrong side of Gabriel Zakuani. With the Rotherham hitman failing to break stride, he unleashed a fantastic left-footed effort from the edge of the box which fizzed past the attentions of Holy to find the visitors net.
The Millers looked a transformed outfit and Taylor was the next to try his luck from distance with a dipping effort which bounced awkwardly in front of Holy, who parried the ball to safety before Wood headed wide from the resulting corner.
Minutes later, Ihiekwe advanced forward to deliver an inviting centre which saw Moore, in acres of space just inside the box, but the in-form striker was unable to generate enough power in his downward header to trouble Holy, who gathered comfortably on his own-line before Rotherham had faint appeals for a spot kick when Wood appeared to be dragged down by sub Connor Ogilvie in the box, as he looked to latch onto Newell’s corner, but the referee waved away home protests.
In the final ten minutes, Wood became the first to see yellow for hauling back Hessenthaler before Eaves planted a header over from Martin’s free-kick, in a rare visitors foray.
There was a moment of controversy when Mattock scythed down sub Scott Wagstaff near the touchline and in the ensuing melee involving both sets of players, the Rotherham left-back continued his protestations with the visiting players, which earned him a second yellow-card, in a matter of seconds.
Steve Lovell’s men rubbed salt into home wounds, in their next attack, when Bingham floated an inviting corner into the box and Parker evaded the attentions of his marker to power a downward header into the heart of the home goal- and seal the deal in the Kent’s side’s favour.
Full-time- Rotherham United 1 Gillingham 3
Rotherham United 1
Teams:- Rotherham- Rodak, Mattock, Wood, Forde (Taylor 53), Potter, Towell (David Ball 54), Ihiekwe, Newell, Williams, Moore, Cummings. Unused- O’Donnell, Emmanuel, Ajayi, Clarke-Harris, Yates.
Gillingham- Holy, Garmston (Ogilvie 46), Ehmer, Zakuani (O’Neill 69), Hessenthaler, Eaves, Martin, Parker, Bingham, List (Wagstaff 57), Clare. Unused- Nelson, Wilkinson, Cundle, Byrne.
Referee- C Boyeson
Attendance- 7865 (274)