Raggett earns Millers second win of the season.....
SEAN Raggett’s first goal in Millers colours proved decisive as Rotherham United earned their second Championship victory of the season, at the expense of Millwall.
In a finely balanced encounter at a soggy AESSEAL New York Stadium, the Londoners slipped to their second defeat in South Yorkshire in the space of a week when Raggett headed home from Will Vaulks’ cross before a fine defensive display from the Millers in the second half was enough to give Paul Warne’s side a much-needed victory.
Following their narrow defeat at the hands of Hull City in midweek, Warne made two changes to his starting line-up for the visit of the Lions.
Norwich loanee Raggett returned to the heart of the Millers rearguard as Semi Ajayi, who celebrated a midweek call up to the Nigeria squad for the forthcoming international break, was asked to ply his trade in front of the back-four, in a holding midfield role.
In the attacking berths, Kyle Vassell was given an opportunity to impress as Jon Taylor had to settle for a place among the substitutes.
The Lions had the first sight of goal when Jed Wallace and Conor McLaughlin combined smartly on the right flank to split open the Rotherham defence but Joe Mattock was on his toes to snuff out the latter’s cross.
In Rotherham’s first foray of note, Ryan Manning latched onto a loose ball before taking aim from distance on his favoured left-foot but under pressure from Shaun Williams, the QPR loanee could only skew a long-range effort harmlessly wide before superb one-touch football involving Vaulks and Ajayi put Williams in the clear but Jake Cooper hacked his dangerous cross to safety – with one or two Rotherham attackers loitering with intent.
The home side opened the scoring on 20 minutes when a ball into the channel was headed for throw in by a retreating Lions defender and Vaulks looked set for a long-throw into the box but the Millers caught the Londoners napping with a short one – with Williams the grateful recipient. The Australian played the ball back into the path of Vaulks, who took a touch to deliver an inviting centre into the danger area and Raggett towered above his marker to glance the ball into the corner of the net past a motionless Jordan Archer.
The Millers were buoyed by the strike and Williams tried his luck from distance with a rasping effort which flew narrowly over the bar before Millwall frustration boiled over when Jed Wallace saw yellow for lashing out at Williams.
The home side were looking the most likely and Manning curled a tantalising free-kick into the box whereby Wood was inches away from making a telling connection, at the far post, before Mattock skipped to the by-line to hang a cross which saw Smith rise above Cooper but the Millers striker could not control his looping header, which dribbled harmlessly wide of the target.
Just past the half-hour mark, Smith showed fleet of foot to leave James Meredith grounded in the box before firing a cross which appeared to strike the arm of Ryan Tunnicliffe but the referee waved away home appeals before Millwall had a rare sight of goal when Tom Elliott’s knock down presented Jed Wallace with the opportunity to strike but his snap shot failed to trouble Marek Rodak in the home goal.
Minutes later, Zak Vyner was penalised for hacking down one time Millers target Lee Gregory on the edge of the box but Jed Wallace failed to make it count from the resultant free-kick when his tame effort was straight down the throat of Rodak.
Minutes later, Millwall made a hash of clearing Manning’s corner and following a game of head tennis involving Wood, Raggett and Vassell, Ajayi had a glimpse of goal but his low effort smashed into the side netting with Archer anxiously flying across goal.
With half-time approaching, Manning showed great awareness to latch onto Smith’s slide-rule pass before drilling a low effort through a ruck of bodies on the edge of the box but Archer smothered his effort before Williams bravely threw his body in the way of Tunnicliffe’s fierce effort, in the last noteworthy action of the half.
Half-time:- Rotherham United 1 Millwall 0
The visitors were quick out of the blocks at the start of the second half when Aiden O’Brien’s stubbed shot, under pressure from Ajayi, was gathered by Rodak before Raggett’s bone-crunching tackle on Elliott was the precursor for a Rotherham attack and Williams cut inside to deliver a cross which saw Vassell head wide from an acute angle.
Rodak’s weak clearance was latched upon by O’Brien, who cut inside to unleash a fierce effort from the edge of the box but Raggett put his body on the line to block his effort en-route to goal before Manning was the next to see yellow for a late lunge on Tunnicliffe, in the aftermath of the move.
From the resultant free-kick, Lions skipper Shaun Williams attempted to give Rodak the eyes, by firing a skimming effort to his near post, but the ball flashed narrowly wide before Raggett was forced to divert Jed Wallace’s cross-cum-shot to safety.
The Londoners were cranking up the pressure and the Millers were indebted to Rodak for preserving their slender lead when Williams’ curling corner was inch-perfect for Cooper, who headed goalwards but the Slovakian ‘keeper pulled off a top draw save to palm the ball into the air, before punching the ball behind, at the second attempt.
The Millers looked to have weathered the Lions mini-storm when Williams dragged an effort harmlessly wide from distance before Manning took advantage of superb work by Smith to curl a delightful effort, narrowly over the visitors bar.
The home side missed a chance to give themselves some much-needed breathing space when Smith started and finished a move – with a threaded ball into the channel which put Vassell away and the ex-Blackpool striker kept his nerve to play a perfectly-weighted pass back into the path of Smith, who took aim from the edge of the box, but Archer stood up tall to palm his goalbound effort to safety.
With the game on a knife-edge, Jed Wallace injected pace into a Lions move and Elliott got on the wrong side of his marker to scuff an effort towards goal but Rodak struck out a timely foot to clear the danger before home fans had their hearts in their mouths when Vaulks in avertedly headed Williams’ corner over his own crossbar.
Moments later, sub Tom Bradshaw was sniffing a debut goal when he met another dangerous Williams corner but the Welsh international could direct his effort towards goal, under pressure from home defenders before Jed Wallace took advantage of a weak home clearance to advance with menace before firing a left-footed effort which had Rodak nervously scurrying across goal, as it flew narrowly wide of the target.
Full-time- Rotherham United 1 Millwall 0
Rotherham United 1
Teams:- Rotherham- Rodak, Vyner, Mattock, Vaulks, Ajayi, Wood, Manning, Vassell (Newell 86), R Williams, Smith (Proctor 76), Raggett. Unused- Bilboe, Palmer, Ball, Taylor, Robertson.
Millwall- Archer, McLaughlin, Meredith, Cooper, S Williams, J Wallace, Gregory (Bradshaw 65), Tunnicliffe (Morison 79), Elliott, O’Brien (Skalak 65), M Wallace. Unused- Amos, Ferguson, Romeo, Webster.
Referee- G Eltringham
Attendance- 8197 (694)