Millers hit five again..
ROTHERHAM United scored five for the third time this season as they put Oldham Athletic to the sword thanks to a fantastic late salvo.
Michael Ihiekwe’s first goal in Rotherham colours put the home side ahead but Craig Davies soon levelled matters for the Latics.
With the Millers banging on the door in the second half, Kieffer Moore broke Athletic’s dogged resistance with his seventh and eighth goals of the season before subs Anthony Forde and Jerry Yates added the gloss to the Millers display with two late strikes.
Following their narrow defeat at the hands of Bradford City, Millers chief Warne made just one change to his starting line-up for the Roses clash.
Ben Purrington was given an opportunity to stake a claim for a regular starting berth in the left-back slot after Joe Mattock was ruled out following his late sending off at Valley Parade last weekend.
Following a slow start by both sides, Oldham had the first sight of goal when Jack Byrne’s clipped ball forward was controlled smartly by Davies, who took aim from distance but he dragged his shot harmlessly wide of the target.
Moments later, Jon Taylor injected pace into a home move to leave Dan Gardner grounded before working a yard of space on George Edmundson to drill a fierce cross-cum-shot which had Ruddy scrambling across goal as it flashed across goal.
In the next home attack, Athletic were indebted to Ruddy for keeping the scores level when a fine flowing move involving skipper Lee Frecklington paved the way for Purrington to advance with menace before firing a rasping effort from distance which brought a superb acrobatic save from the visitors stopper.
However, Oldham’s relief was only temporary as the Millers broke the deadlock from the resultant corner.
Williams floated a delicate centre which saw Moore emerge from the ruck of bodies at the far post to power a header which crashed against the crossbar but the ball looped invitingly into the path of Ihiekwe, who towered above a stationary Athletic defender on the line to force the ball home from just yards out.
The Millers were lifted by the opener and a superb one-two involving Will Vaulks and Williams split open the Athletic defence and a pull-back to the edge of the box saw Richie Towell feign to shoot allowing the on-rushing Frecklington to strike, but the talismanic skipper, failed to recreate his Walsall heroics, as he blazed his effort from the edge of the box into the visitors’ faithful behind the goal.
The Millers were left to rue that miss when Oldham got themselves back on level terms after Vaulks was forced to head behind following a surging run and cross by Ryan McLaughlin.
Jack Bryne’s near post corner caught the Millers napping and Davies was the quickest to react to flick the ball goalwards and despite Marek Rodak getting a boot to the ball, the Slovakian was unable to keep it out as it whistled into the corner of the Millers’ net.
Minutes later, the visitors came within a coat of paint of turning the game on its head, when Bryne’s slide-rule pass bisected the Rotherham rearguard paving the way for Tope Obadeyi to bear down on goal, but the Oldham frontman fluffed his lines when he dragged his left-footed effort wide, despite having the goal at his mercy.
The Millers had a let-off when Wood’s mistake almost gifted Davies a shooting opportunity and the experienced home centre-half, in attempting to make amends, appeared to haul down the Oldham goalscorer in the box but the referee waved away visiting appeals for a spot-kick.
There was a moment of controversy when Ryan McLaughlin pulled up with a hamstring injury and with Taylor deciding to continue the Rotherham attack, Gardner took exception to his decision, when play was pulled-back, in a confrontation which led to a booking for both players.
In a frenetic sixty seconds, Darren Potter had a shot blocked en-route to goal before Taylor and Ihiekwe combined smartly to hook a ball across the face of the Oldham box but Wood failed to control his left-footed shot from the edge of the box as he blasted over from a promising position.
With half time approaching, Edmundson proverbially took one for the team for cynically hauling down Williams in full flow to abruptly halt a Millers counter-attack before Taylor had a snap shot deflected over after Vaulks’ cross was only half-cleared into his path.
Half-time- Rotherham United 1 Oldham Athletic 1
Following the interval, Rotherham had the first sight of goal when Taylor drilled a cross harmlessly over the Oldham bar before Williams’ delicate cross saw Moore in an aerial duel with Edmundson and Ruddy and with no-one taking charge, it whistled narrowly wide.
The home duo combined, at the resultant corner, when Moore rose highest from the Australian’s corner to power a header which was blocked seemingly by Ruddy and the masse of bodies in the six-yard box before Oldham failed to clear the danger and with Wood causing havoc, Taylor powered a left-footed effort into the roof of the Athletic net, but any Millers joy was curtailed by an offside flag earlier in the move.
Moments later, Taylor curled a tantalising centre which was inches away from the outstretched boot of Moore before the Ipswich loanee superbly put Ihiekwe’s long punt forward under his spell before dragging his volley from distance harmlessly wide of the target.
The Millers were looking the most likely and Williams skipped to the byline but failed to find the onrushing Taylor with his cross before Frecklington showed an uncharacteristic lack of composure when he burst into the Oldham box before dragging his shot well wide of the target.
Moments later, sub Joe Newell almost made an immediate impression from the bench when he raced clear but he failed to trouble Ruddy with his shot before Gevaro Nepomuceno became the latest to see yellow for dragging down Williams on the edge of the box but Newell failed to make it count from the resultant free-kick which Ruddy watched sail over.
However, the Millers were finally rewarded for their second-half pressure when Towell’s defence splitting pass saw Williams get on the wrong side of his marker to cut inside before forcing Ruddy into a reflex, point-blank save but fortunately for the Millers, Moore was on-hand to shoot home into the unguarded visitors’ net.
Moore was in the thick of the action and he effectively sealed the deal for the home side when Newell curled an inviting corner into the Athletic box and Moore emerged from the ruck of bodies in the box to power a superb header into the roof of the Oldham net from six yards giving Ruddy no chance.
In the dying minutes, Peter Clarke fired into the side netting for the visitors before Rotherham added a fourth when a mazy run from Newell had the Oldham defence at sixes and sevens, and the ex-Peterborough midfielder kept his composure to play the ball into the path of fellow sub Forde, who calmly stroked the ball into the bottom corner of the net.
The Millers put the icing on the cake on a polished second-half display when a ball into the box was nodded down by Towell into the path of sub Jerry Yates, who calmly fired the ball home from close range.
Full-time:- Rotherham United 5 Oldham Athletic 1
Rotherham United 5
Oldham Athletic 1
Teams:- Rotherham- Rodak, Vaulks, Wood, Frecklington, Taylor (Newell 62), Potter, Towell (Forde 81), Purrington, Ihiekwe, Williams, Moore (Yates 84). Unused- O’Donnell, Ajayi, Clarke-Harris, Cummings.
Oldham- Ruddy, Gerrard, Gardner (Omrani 63), Davies, McLaughlin (Dummigan 33), Edmundson, Clarke, Nepomuceno, Byrne, Obadeyi (Menig 62), Bryan. Unused- Placide, Banks, Menig, Hunt, Fane.
Referee- J Brooks
Attendance- 8250 (825)