Millers earn a point at Deepdale...
Rotherham United added another point to their second tier tally as they battled to a 1-1 draw against Preston at Deepdale on Saturday.
Michael Smith’s second half strike to cancel out Tom Barkhuizen’s opener earned Paul Warne’s men their second draw on the road in a week following their Tuesday night encounter at the Riverside.
Following the impressive performance that earned the Millers a draw at high-flying Middlesbrough in midweek, Paul Warne opted to tweak his starting XI with one change which saw Jon Taylor take a jersey at the expense of Ryan Manning, who dropped to the bench.
The Lilywhites’ start to the fixture displayed the confidence that could be expected in attack with them having scored four on their last outing in front of their own supporters and they threatened Marek Rodak’s goal twice within the opening three minutes.
Their first foray of note came down the left and allowed marauding full back Andrew Hughes the opportunity to deliver a dangerous cross but a well-positioned Robertson ensured the chance amounted to nothing. The Scottish defender was called upon again soon after as Tom Barkhuizen made a break for goal following an incisive pass, but the presence of the former Blackpool man was enough to ensure that the Preston attacker could only muster a tame shot on goal which Rodak gathered comfortably.
The Millers are beginning to carve out a reputation for their ability to cause problems despite not having large spells of the ball and almost put that into practice on 13 minutes.
Highlight reels in recent weeks have seen Michael Smith come agonisingly close to spectacular finishes and he was unfortunate not to see another superb curling effort find the back of the net from 25 yards this time. A quick break from Warne’s men allowed the former Bury forward chance to step onto his right foot, where he unleashed a sumptuous curling effort which had Maxwell beaten but cannoned off the foot of the post before bouncing clear of danger.
Tame celebrations from the home end did ensue on 23 minutes when the dangerous Callum Robinson swept home a cool finish after a cross from the left, however, the assistant’s flag had been raised for an earlier infringement for offside and the noise soon subsided.
Kyle Vassell’s unpredictable style has been a useful weapon for Warne’s men so far this campaign and his ability to produce something out of nothing came close to bearing fruit at Deepdale. There looked to be little danger when a tame delivery from the right found its way into the box, but the former Blackpool man threw himself at it and fired a header at goal, which Maxwell had to be alert to keep out.
The Millers had been subject to pressure from a number of Lilywhites’ set pieces but had looked accomplished in doing do until five minutes before the break when their resolve was broken. Robinson’s ball in this time found Barkhuizen, who connected with a header which he guided out of the reach of Rodak to put his side one up.
HT| Preston North End 1 v 0 Rotherham.
The early stages of the second half showed signs of a Paul Warne pep talk at the interval, with his side starting brightly. Some flowing passing football eventually paved the way for Vassell to unleash a thunderous effort from the edge of the area, which brought out the best of Maxwell in the hosts’ goal, who beat his effort clear before Williams’ follow-up flew over the crossbar.
The second stanza also prompted a change in formation for the Millers, with Vassell joining Smith in the attack, while Williams and Taylor were deployed as wide men. That switch would pay dividends for the visitors soon after with the equaliser coming just 10 minutes into the second half.
Following his move out onto the right flank, Williams immediately added an assist to his tally for the season. A break to the byline allowed him room for a low cross, which picked out Smith in front of goal, the ex-Bury man still had a lot to do before he swivelled in possession and thumped home an effort beyond Maxwell to restore parity at Deepdale, sending the travelling supporters into raptures at the other end of the stadium.
The Millers’ goal appeared to have given them further confidence and Warne’s men began to enjoy a much more fruitful spell in the final third of the pitch in the immediate aftermath. Whilst clear cut opportunities were limited, Maxwell remained busy in the Preston goal with yellow shirts piling forward regularly.
The visitors forged a good opportunity following the introduction of the creative Joe Newell, whose lobbed ball in behind the defence set the dangerous Vassell free but his decision to step inside allowed a retreating defender to recover and throw a body in the way of his strike at goal.
The latter stages of the game were rapidly becoming one that any neutral would enjoy, although the heart rates of the men in the dugouts were probably increasing by the second.
Millers stopper Rodak hadn’t been forced in to too many saves in the second half but made a crucial one to keep his side level on 77 minutes. The opportunity came for the hosts when Robinson found himself in acres of space at the far post where he bared down on goal, unleashing a fierce strike, but found the Slovakian ‘keeper in his way to make a top drawer save.
A late rally from both sides proved in vein with neither able to capitalise on half chances in an entertaining climax at Deepdale.
FT| Preston North End 1 v 1 Rotherham.
Preston North End: Maxwell; Clarke, Huntington, Davies, Hughes; Browne, Pearson, Robinson; Johnson (Gallagher 72), Nmecha (Maguire 64), Barkhuizen (Moult 75).
Unused: Rudd, Fisher, Earl, Storey.
Millers: Rodak; Vyner, Ajayi, Robertson, Mattock; Taylor (Newell 68), Vaulks, Towell, Vassell (Proctor 76); Williams (Manning 85); Smith.
Unused: Price, Wood, Palmer, Wiles.
Attendance: 11,780 (700 away)