Late equaliser denies Millers....
ROTHERHAM United were denied their fourth home win of the season in the cruellest of circumstances when sub Christian Doidge’s late effort cancelled out Will Vaulks’ superb free-kick for the hosts.
Paul Warne’s side looked to be heading for victory thanks to Vaulks’ second half effort but one-time Millers target Doidge struck in the dying minutes to earn a share of the spoils for the Lancastrians.
The Millers returned to action following the international break – with Warne making three changes to his starting line-up for the visit of the Trotters.
Club skipper Richard Wood, Richie Towell and Northern Ireland starter Kyle Vassell returned to the starting eleven, at the expense of Matt Palmer, Ryan Manning and Joe Newell, who all had to settle for substitute berths.
The Millers had the first sight of goal in the early minutes when Ryan Williams forced a corner and Jon Taylor swung over the resultant set-piece into the Bolton box and Semi Ajayi, emerged from the ruck of bodies to nod goalwards, but the ball shaved the outside of the visitors’ post.
Moments later, Joe Mattock’s floated ball into the danger area saw Michael Smith tussle with Marc Wilson in the box – with Smith’s shirt, arguably, being pulled as the chance was lost before Magennis had Bolton’s first effort of note when he met Gary O’Neil’s free-kick but his looping header narrowly cleared the Millers crossbar.
In the next phase of play, Vaulks pounced on a loose ball ahead of Jason Lowe before unleashing a rasping effort from distance which whistled just inches over the Bolton bar before Taylor got the better of Wilson in a one-on-one situation to clip a cross which was met by the head of Smith but his effort was straight down the throat of Ben Alnwick.
At the other end, the home fans had their hearts in their mouths when O’Neil cut inside to curl a delightful cross which was nodded on by Clayton Donaldson over the head of Marek Rodak before cannoning against the post but any goal would have been chalked off for an offside award.
Minutes later, Wood was adjudged to have bundled over Donaldson near the touchline and O’Neil was again the architect with an inviting cross into the box which saw Jack Hobbs rise highest but his towering header sailed narrowly over the Millers bar.
In the next phase of play, Hobbs became the first to see yellow for an over the top lunge on Williams near the touchline before neat play from Towell presented Taylor with the chance to race into the box before firing an effort from an acute angle which deflected off the retreating Wheater, as it smashed into the side netting.
Just before the half-hour mark, the Millers were forced into a defensive reshuffle with Billy Jones forced to leave the proceedings and Zak Vyner stepping up from the bench to take his place in the right-back slot.
Moments later, the home side missed a gilt-edged chance to break the deadlock when Mattock swung an tantalising corner into the box but Vassell, who had initially ghosted away from his marker, failed to make a clean connection with his header, from just yards out, as it dribbled harmlessly wide of the target.
With half-time approaching, Williams was unceremoniously hauled over by Pawel Olkowski in full flow but Rotherham failed to make it count from the resultant free-kick when Mattock’s delivery was met by Smith, but off-balance, the home frontman failed to trouble Alnwick with his arched header.
Half-time- Rotherham United 0 Bolton Wanderers 0
Just minutes into the second half, the Lancastrians were given the perfect opportunity to open the scoring when a ball behind the back of the Rotherham rearguard saw Wood look to usher the ball into touch but Magennis robbed him of possession to dart into the box before being felled by the home skipper, who looked to atone for his error, and the referee had no hesitation in pointing to the spot.
The Northern Ireland striker dusted himself down to take the spot kick but Rodak correctly guessed his intentions to superbly keep out his well-struck effort with a superb save to his left.
In the next phase of play, Wheater fired over into the visiting faithful behind the goal and the Millers fans could breathe again.
In Rotherham’s first foray of the half, Taylor nipped the pocket on sub Josh Vela on halfway to race away before clipping a cross which seemed the strike the arm of Wilson in the box, but the referee deemed his action unintentional and the ball was scrambled to safety by the visitors.
Minutes later, the Millers made the Trotters pay for their penalty miss when Williams was hacked down in an inviting position on the edge of the box and Vaulks punished them to the full with a fine free-kick with his instep which whistled past the Bolton wall and the outstretched hand of Alnwick to find the far corner of the goal to send the home fans into ecstasy.
The home side were clearly lifted by the breakthrough and a cleverly disguised pass on the edge of the box by Williams presented Smith with the opportunity to fire a snap shot which stung the palms of Alnwick before a retreating defender cleared the danger.
Minutes later, Taylor injected pace into a home move to plant an inviting centre which was met by the head of Williams, who looked to guide his header into the bottom corner but agonisingly for the Millers, his effort shaved the outside of the post with Alnwick a helpless bystander.
The home side then came within a coat of paint of sealing the deal when Williams’ lay-off saw Smith weigh up his options before curling a superb right-footed effort, from outside the box, which had Alnwick acrobatically flying across goal, as it smashed against the foot of the post before being diverted to safety.
There was a moment of controversy when Rodak’s punt upfield was headed in avertedly into the path of sub Ryan Manning, who looked to evade the attentions of Hobbs with a back flick before seemingly felled by the Trotters defender, just inside the box, but the referee waved away home appeals for a spot kick before cautioning the QPR loanee for simulation.
With five minutes to go, Millers’ hearts were broken when the breakdown of a home attack saw the ball punted forward and Mattock failed to deal with the danger under the challenge of Donaldson and the ex-Sheffield United striker rolled the ball into the path of sub Doidge, who kept his nerve, to fire a low effort which whistled past the attentions of Rodak to find the bottom corner of the home net.
In the dying minutes, Mattock and Vela saw yellow for clumsy challenges before the referee brought an entertaining clash to an end – with both sides having to settle for a point each.
Full-time- Rotherham United 1 Bolton Wanderers 1
Rotherham United 1
Bolton Wanderers 1
Teams:- Rotherham- Rodak, Mattock, Vaulks, Ajayi, Wood, J Taylor (Manning 78), Towell, Vassell (Newell 65), R Williams, Smith, Jones (Vyner 28). Unused- Price, Palmer, Proctor, Wiles.
Bolton- Alnwick, Lowe, Donaldson, Hobbs, Olkowski, Wilson, O’Neil (Vela 34), J Williams (Doidge 66), Dyer (Wildschut 67), Magennis, Wheater. Unused- Matthews, A Taylor, Beevers, Noone.
Referee- J Brooks
Attendance- 10011 (1918)