Vaulks and Moore goals earn Millers win...
GOALS either side of the interval from Will Vaulks and Kieffer Moore earned Rotherham United their fifth home league win on the spin at the expense of local rivals Scunthorpe United.
In a finely balanced first-half, Vaulks broke the deadlock with a thunderbolt from distance before Moore’s tenth goal of the season eased home nerves with a tap-in after the visitors had threatened an equaliser, early in the second half.
Following their hard-fought victory over Rochdale in their last outing, Millers chief Paul Warne made two changes to his starting line-up for the visit of the Iron.
The Millers were missing a wealth of experience in their engine room with club skipper Lee Frecklington absent because of the injury he sustained at Spotland while Darren Potter joined him on the side lines.
As a result, Warne reverted to a 4-4-1-1 formation with Vaulks being asked to partner Richie Towell in the central-midfield area while David Ball was given an opportunity to impress behind in-form striker Moore.
The visitors had the first sight of goal when a fine-flowing counter-attack involving Lee Novak paved the way for Paddy Madden to strike goalwards but Richard O’Donnell was well-stationed at his near post to snuff out the danger.
Moments later, Madden charged down Richard Wood’s attempted clearance with Novak lurking menacingly but a referee’s whistle released the pressure on the hosts before superb one-touch football involving Towell and Ryan Williams, at the other end, presented Moore with the chance to take aim but visiting skipper Rory McArdle came to his side’s rescue with a timely tackle.
In Rotherham’s next attack, Williams’ low effort was blocked by Conor Townsend but the ball fell invitingly for Towell, who skilfully dinked the ball into the air to manufacture a volley from distance which stung the palms of Matt Gilks.
The Millers were stepping on the gas and Forde’s corner saw Richard Wood rise highest to head the ball back into the danger area and following Michael Ihiekwe’s flick-on, Joe Mattock fired towards goal but his close-range effort was blocked by the ruck of bodies in the six-yard box.
Minutes later, Forde cut inside with purpose to strike a fierce effort from distance which forced Gilks into a sprawling save before Andrew Crofts fired a half-volley from long range, at the other end, but Forde bravely threw his body in the way of his goalbound effort.
Former Millers loanee Josh Morris embarked on a forceful run which ended with a low effort which was straight down the throat of O’Donnell before Funso Ojo latched onto a weak Millers clearance to shoot goalwards but Wood stuck out a timely leg to deflect the ball behind.
Just past the hour mark, Scunthorpe switched the ball to the right flank whereby Jordan Clarke swung a delightful centre which was inch-perfect for the head of Madden, who looked a certain scorer but O’Donnell stood up tall to block his point-blank header.
The moment proved crucial when the Millers broke the deadlock on 37 minutes when a quickly-taken corner caught the Iron napping and Vaulks took full advantage when he got the ball from under his feet to strike a rasping effort from distance, which seemed to gather pace in the air, as it arrowed past the desperate dive of Gilks, to find the far corner of the visitors goal- before the ex-Falkirk midfielder treated the AESSEAL New York Stadium faithful to another rendition of his trademark somersault celebration.
Minutes later, Ihiekwe became the first to see yellow for a clumsy foul on Morris before O’Donnell was called into action when Duane Holmes slide-rule pass presented Morris with the chance to strike but the Rotherham ‘keeper denied him with a smart, reflex save, at his near post.
With half-time approaching, Townsend cut inside his marker with ease to clip a delicate cross which saw Crofts ghost in unnoticed but he could not control his header as it ballooned over the bar.
Half-time- Rotherham United 1 Scunthorpe United 0
The visitors started the second stanza as they finished the first when Morris’ peashooter forced O’Donnell into a full length save before Ojo had a shot blocked en-route to goal by Williams.
With Rotherham unable to clear the danger, Townsend weighed up his options to calmly strike a sweet left-footed effort which O’Donnell may have got a hand to, as it smashed against the upright before an offside flag came to the home side’s rescue with Madden looking to turn home the rebound into an unguarded net.
The visitors had seized the initiative and Morris’ deep cross had O’Donnell backtracking nervously before he plucked the ball out of the sky before the Iron were indebted to McArdle for keeping them in the game as he cleared Moore’s goalbound header from underneath his own crossbar following good work by Ball in the build-up.
Moore was in the thick of the action and he nipped in front of his marker to meet Towell’s touchline centre but Gilks showed fleet of foot to smother the danger before Wood put his body on the line to prevent Novak from shooting goalwards.
The Millers turned defence into attack in the blink of an eye and Williams injected pace into a move to strike a rasping effort which was arrowing into the far corner of the net until Gilks’ 11th hour intervention.
The home fans were on the edge of their seats as Townsend’s mazy run split open the home defence but Towell threw his body in the way of his shot before Holmes curled an effort from the edge of the box which flew narrowly over the home bar.
However, Rotherham took a firm grip on the game with 19 minutes remaining when Scunthorpe failed to clear the danger and Ball picked up the pieces to waltz into the visitors box before keeping his nerve to play a perfectly-weighted pass into the path of Moore, who had the simple task of tapping home from close range.
Moore was proving a thorn in the Iron’s side and good work by Forde and Mattock saw the Ipswich loanee head goalwards once again but Gilks was well-stationed to gather on his own line.
Moments later, Towell executed a cushioned volley from just outside the box which shaved the visitors upright following sub Joe Newell’s free-kick before Mattock showed home determination to keep a clean sheet with a brave challenge at the feet of Holmes, who looked set to halve the deficit from close range.
In the dying minutes, the home fans expected the net to bulge once again as Moore ghosted away from the pack to latch onto Newell’s sublime cross, but the tall frontman headed wide with the goal at his mercy- although his blushes were spared by the offside flag.
Full-time- Rotherham United 2 Scunthorpe United 0
Rotherham United 2
Scunthorpe United 0
Teams:- Rotherham- O’Donnell, Mattock, Vaulks, Wood, Forde (Ajayi 82), David Ball (Newell 77), Towell, Ihiekwe, Williams, Moore (Clarke-Harris 90), Cummings. Unused- Rodak, Emmanuel, Yates, Bray.
Scunthorpe- Gilks, Clarke, Townsend, Crofts (Mantom 73), Wallace, Ojo, Madden, Morris (Adelakun 73), Novak (Van Veen 79), Holmes, McArdle. Unused- Watson, Bishop, Burgess, Butroid.
Referee- E Ilderton
Attendance- 9167 (1321)