Millers bow out of Carabao Cup despite brave effort.....
ROTHERHAM United bowed out of the Carabao Cup at the second round stage, at the hands of Everton, but Paul Warne’s side pushed the Premier League outfit all the way at Goodison Park.
Goals either side of the interval by Gylfi Sigurdsson and Dominic Calvert-Lewin put Marco Silva’s side in charge but sub Will Vaulks gave the Millers hope, late on, with a fine header.
However, Calvert-Lewin’s second of the evening extinguished any hopes of the Millers forcing the game to spot kicks as Everton booked their passage into the third round.
Following their hard fought victory over Millwall in their last outing, the Millers reshuffled the pack for the visit to Merseyside – with only Zak Vyner, Semi Ajayi and weekend scorer Sean Raggett retained from the Lions victory.
Academy youngster Ben Wiles was handed an opportunity to impress in the heart of the Millers engine room alongside Matt Palmer.
There was drama prior to kick-off as left-back Joe Mattock was named in the original line-up but was forced to pull out following the warm up. Ajayi was promoted from the substitutes’ bench into the first eleven as Richard Wood took his place among the replacements.
The Millers settled smartly into the game and they had the first sight of goal when a defensive error gave Jamie Proctor a sight of goal but the visiting striker failed to hit the target with a long range effort.
At the other end, Semi Ajayi showed fleet of foot to prevent Calvert-Lewin from breaking clear before a fine flowing move involving David Ball paved the way for Joe Newell to play a tantalising ball across the Everton goalmouth and Wiles attempted to scuff the ball towards goal but a retreating home defender diverted the ball to safety.
Minutes later, the home side turned defence into attack in the blink of an eye and Kieran Dowell got the better of Vyner to give Oumar Niasse the opportunity to take aim from just inside the box but Ajayi bravely put his body on the line to take the sting out of his shot.
In the Millers next attack, Newell floated an inviting free-kick into the home box forcing Mason Holgate to hoick the ball behind before Rotherham released the pressure on the hosts with a poorly taken short corner.
Following the first period of sustained Everton pressure, Sandro Ramirez’s slide-rule pass gave Sigurdsson the chance to fire a first-time shot from just inside the box which was half-stopped by Price on his own goal line giving Calvert-Lewin a sniff of turning the ball home but Price smothered his point-blank effort– with the referee awarding a foul on the Millers ‘keeper.
The Millers failed to heed the warning as the home side broke the deadlock just shy of the half hour mark when Ramirez got the better of a duel with Robertson to drill a cross-cum-shot which fell kindly for Sigurdsson, who stuck out a timely leg to divert the ball into the heart of the Millers goal.
However, home joy almost proved short-lived when Anthony Forde curled a tantalising free-kick into the box which was flicked on by Raggett towards goal and Kurt Zouma, in attempting to clear almost headed into his own goal, as the ball shaved the outside of the upright.
Moments later, Ramirez cut inside with menace to fire a rasping effort which stung the palms of Price and Sigurdsson looked to turn the ball home on the follow-up but the Icelandic international failed to make a telling connection with the goal at his mercy.
The Millers were giving as good as they were getting and an incisive run from Vyner ended with Ball looking to get his shot away but under pressure from Holgate, the ball scooped wide before Newell worked a yard of space on his marker to plant a delicious centre which looked inch-perfect for Raggett, but the Norwich loanee fluffed his lines when he blazed the ball over from an inviting position.
The moment almost proved crucial when Ajayi was robbed of possession by Sigurdsson in his own box and the home playmaker played the ball back into the path of Tom Davies, who arrowed his shot towards the bottom corner of the goal but Price dived smartly to his right to keep the ball out.
Minutes later, Everton turned defence into attack in the blink of an eye and Calvert-Lewin ghosted into the box to fire a fierce effort which was smothered smartly by Price before Jonjoe Kenny skipped to the by-line to clip a pinpoint centre into the box but Niasse could not control his volley, as it found the home faithful behind the goal.
Half-time- Everton 1 Rotherham United 0
At the break, Wirral-born Will Vaulks was introduced into the fray at the expense of Wiles but it was the home side, who threatened the visitors’ goal, when Lucas Digne fired over following good work by Dowell in the build-up before Price was quick off his line to pluck Kenny’s superb centre out of the sky.
Minutes later, Digne became the first to see yellow for a rash tackle on Forde near the touchline before Proctor showed great upper body strength to shrug off the attentions of Zouma before putting Price’s long punt under his spell but Ball was not able to take advantage of the loose ball and the chance was lost.
Just past the hour mark, Everton took a firm grip on the game when Sigurdsson’s free-kick was initially charged down by the Rotherham wall but Digne injected pace into the home move to clip a delightful centre which was inch-perfect for the head of Calvert-Lewin, who had the simple task of nodding home from close range.
The Millers responded well to the setback and Raggett headed over from Newell’s free-kick before sub Kyle Vassell looked to be racing away – until an offside flag curtailed his progress.
The home side missed a gilt-edged chance to make it three when Kenny delivered another superb cross into the box but Niasse, who had escaped his marker, bizarrely failed to hit the target, with his close range header.
The Millers refused to throw in the towel and Ajayi got on the end of Forde’s free-kick in the box but the visiting centre-half was unable to direct his header goalwards before Vaulks’ long-range effort was blocked by Davies en-route to goal.
In the final quarter hour, Dowell volleyed over from distance following some dazzling footwork initially before Ajayi played a delightful ball over the top, at the other end, which caught the Everton defence square but Vassell failed to make count with a wayward effort.
Minutes later, Vaulks’ launched an exocet throw into the box which skimmed off the head of Holgate, as it dribbled narrowly wide of the target before Ajayi flicked on another Vaulks’ throw to give Proctor the chance to shoot goalwards but the Millers marksman could not control his half-volley, as it flew harmlessly over the bar.
In the next phase of play, Ajayi showed great perseverance to present Taylor with the chance to strike forcing Maarten Stekelenburg into a fine save but Rotherham were handed a lifeline when Forde’s corner was met the advancing run of Vaulks, who glanced the ball into the heart of the home goal.
However, Everton reaffirmed their control of the tie, almost immediately, when Davies’ threaded ball was taken in his stride by Calvert-Lewin, who danced into the box before curling a dipping effort which beat the outstretched hand of Price to nestle in the top corner of the Rotherham goal.
Full-time- Everton 3 Rotherham United 1
Rotherham United 1
Teams:- Everton- Stekelenburg, Holgate, Zouma, Ramirez (Schneiderlin 86), Sigurdsson (Walcott 66), Digne, Niasse (Tosun 73), Davies, Dowell, Calvert-Lewin, Kenny. Unused- Virginia, Baines, Coleman, Pennington.
Rotherham- Price, Vyner, Ajayi, Forde, Palmer, Proctor, Ball (Vassell 61), Robertson, Newell (Taylor 72), Wiles (Vaulks 46), Raggett. Unused- Rodak, Wood, Williams, Jones
Referee- Graham Scott