Williams' strike earns Millers point....
RYAN Williams’ early strike earned Rotherham United a hard fought point on the road following a 1-1 draw with Oldham Athletic.
On a difficult Boundary Park playing surface, the Millers had the early initiative thanks to Williams crisp finish but they were soon pegged back by Craig Davies’ leveller for the Latics.
With chances few and far between in a disappointing second half, both sides had to settle for a share of the spoils – with Rotherham stretching their unbeaten run to seven games.
For their return to league action following a two-week break, Millers chief Paul Warne kept faith with his starting line-up, which was named for the New Year’s hosting of Blackburn, for the trip over the Pennines.
There were recalls to the Millers squad in the shape of Lewis Price and Jon Taylor, who made a welcome return following injury while new recruit Michael Smith was also named on the visitors’ bench following his permanent signing from Bury in midweek.
The Millers settled the quicker and a fine flowing move saw Anthony Forde work a yard of space on Brian Wilson to deliver a tantalising centre which was plucked out of the sky by Johny Placide.
However, Warne’s men were indebted to skipper Richard Wood for keeping the scores level when former Miller Ben Pringle’s clipped ball paved the way for Dan Gardner to get on the wrong side of Josh Emmanuel to draw out Marek Rodak from his goal and although the Slovakian narrowed down his options, the ball fell kindly for Davies, who toe-poked the ball towards goal but Rotherham’s experienced centre-half headed clear from his own goal line.
The moment proved crucial as Millers broke the deadlock in the most innocuous of circumstances on seven minutes when David Ball’s pass to the corner was ignored by Jerry Yates, who was in an offside position but the in-form striker chased his own pass to get the better of Anthony Gerrard. Ball then played the ball back to Forde, who teased and tormented Wilson to deliver a centre which was only half-cleared by a backtracking defender and Williams made no mistake to drill a fizzed effort which arrowed into the corner of the home net giving Placide no chance.
Minutes later, Pringle’s snap shot, from just outside the box, was bravely blocked by Semi Ajayi before Will Vaulks was unceremoniously hacked down by Ousmane Fane in the next phase of play. The Millers almost made the home side pay from the resultant free-kick into the box by Richie Towell when Wood shrugged off the attentions of his marker, but after losing his footing in the six-yard box, he could only scoop the ball into the grateful hands of Placide.
The travelling Millers contingent had their hearts in their mouths when firstly, a breakdown in communication between Ajayi and Rodak saw the former head the ball past the on-rushing ‘keeper, who reacted instinctively, outside of the box, to prevent the ball going behind him but the referee waved away home appeals for deliberate handball before Pringle floated a hanging cross-cum-shot which had Rodak nervously looking over his shoulder, as the ball whistled narrowly over the angle of the Rotherham goal.
Just before the half-hour mark, Towell was penalised for ushering Fane off the ball, just outside the box, and Oldham exacted retribution from the resultant free-kick, in a training ground move, when Gardner’s reverse flick paved the way for Davies to get a clean shot on goal, away from the visitors wall, and the ex-Chesterfield striker punished the Millers to the full- with a pinpoint strike which beat the outstretched hand of Rodak to find the visitors net.
Minutes later, Ajayi showed calmness personified, as last man, to jink his way past Pringle and Yates, before playing a superb diagonal pass which saw Yates race clear but Wilson snuffed out his tame centre before Wood almost got the end of Towell’s floated centre but Placide was quick off his line to clear the danger.
In the late noteworthy action of the half, Tope Obadeyi eased past Joe Mattock to advance menacingly towards the Millers box but he fluffed his lines when his blazing effort flew into the visiting fans behind the goal.
Half-time- Oldham Athletic 1 Rotherham United 1
Following the break, Rotherham started in a positive vein and Vaulks pounced on a loose ball to strike a fierce effort from distance with the outside of his foot and Placide was forced to tip the ball over the bar before Pringle blasted over, at the other end, following good work by Obadeyi.
Moments later, Davies’ smart lay-off paved the way for Obadeyi to fire a dangerous centre which was smothered by Rodak, at his near post before the Millers were thankful to Emmanuel for a timely interception – with Davies well-set to tap home following Obadeyi’s darting run and cross.
Rotherham had lost their way temporarily and Vaulks saw yellow for delaying the taking of a home free-kick before Smith was introduced into the fray, in an attempt to spark the visitors to life, late in the game.
With time running out for both sides, the Millers were indebted to Mattock for a superb clearance, near his own line, from sub Gevaro Nepomuceno before Ajayi tangled with Davies, just inside the box, but the referee waved away home appeals for a spot kick.
In the dying seconds, sub Joe Newell struck a shot straight down the throat of Placide before Towell blasted over from a promising position.
Full-time- Oldham Athletic 1 Rotherham United 1
Oldham Athletic 1
Rotherham United 1
Teams:- Oldham- Placide, Dummigan (Nepomuceno 85), Wilson, Gerrard, Gardner (McLaughlin 69), Benyu (Amadi-Holloway 74), Davies, Edmundson, Pringle, Fane, Obadeyi. Unused- Duffus, Sheridan, Hamer, Maouche
Rotherham- Rodak, Emmanuel, Mattock, Vaulks, Ajayi, Wood, Forde, Ball (Clarke-Harris 86), Towell, Yates (Smith 66), Williams (Newell 82). Unused- Price, Taylor, Ihiekwe, Cummings
Referee- R Lewis
Attendance- 4775 (1172)