Millers comeback victory seals third round date....
ROTHERHAM United produced an amazing late comeback, against all the odds, to prevent an Emirates FA Cup upset at the hands of National League Solihull Moors, who looked well set to reach the third round stage, for large parts of the Damson Park affair.
In front of the BT Sport cameras, Solihull raced into a two-goal lead, early on, before adding a third near the hour mark.
However, Paul Warne’s side showed their never-say-die spirit to turn the game around in scintillating fashion when Freddie Ladapo and Michael Ihiekwe reduced the arrears before Michael Smith looked to have earned the Millers a second bite of the cherry at the AESSEAL New York Stadium.
With the game in the balance, the Millers capped a superb fightback when Smith notched the winner, in second half stoppage time, to send the visiting travelling contingent, into ecstasy, as all looked lost at one stage.
Following their narrow defeat at the hands of Portsmouth in their last outing, Warne made just one change to his starting line-up with Adam Thompson making a rare appearance at the heart of the Rotherham rearguard.
Scottish international Clark Robertson was asked to ply his trade in the left-back slot with Billy Jones unavailable due to a hamstring injury sustained at Fratton Park.
There was a familiar face in the Moors line-up with one-time Millers loanee Gavin Gunning lining up in the home engine room.
The hosts had the first sight of goal when Kyle Storer ballooned an effort over after Michael Ihiekwe headed away Paul McCallum’s long throw into the box.
In the Millers first foray of note, Kyle Vassell hung up a cross which was met by the head of Trevor Clarke, but the Irishman could not control his header, as it flew harmlessly wide before Freddie Ladapo took Robertson’s ball in his stride before striking an effort which took a deflection, which took the sting out of it as Ryan Boot collected with ease.
However, Solihull stunned the Millers by breaking the deadlock on six minutes when Jake Beesley’s pullback paved the way for Jamie Reckord to deliver a left-footed centre which skimmed off the head of Thompson and Jamey Osborne pounced on the loose ball to fire a rising effort from the edge of the box which arrowed into the top corner of the Millers goal.
The home side were visibly boosted by the opener and they took a firm grip on the game, just minutes later, when Lee Vaughan swung a tantalising centre which caught the Millers rearguard square and Alex Gudger ghosted in unnoticed to control a half-volley, which flew past the attentions of Daniel Iversen to find the far corner of the net.
The Millers were struggling to regain their composure following the double setback and the home side were oozing confidence as Osborne tried an opportunistic effort from near the halfway line, following a free-kick award, but he failed to trouble the visitors goal before Matt Olosunde made something out of nothing to dart into the home box following a mazy run but his cross was snuffed out by a retreating home defender.
Minutes later, the Millers were indebted to Iversen for keeping them in the game when Osborne’s incisive run split open the Rotherham defence and McCallum was the grateful recipient to fire goalwards but the Danish stopper pulled off a top drawer save, to palm the ball to safety.
The Millers were forced into a reshuffle as Clarke failed to shrug off a knock sustained earlier in the game before Osborne clipped an inviting centre which saw Callum Howe tower above Olosunde to nod goalwards but Ihiekwe stuck out a timely foot to clear the danger.
Minutes later, Solihull made something out of nothing to give McCallum the chance to strike and his effort, from a tight angle, stung the palms of Iversen, before the ball was scrambled to safety.
With seconds remaining of the half, Rotherham had their best moment of the first 45 when Vassell curled an inviting free-kick into the danger area and Robertson emerged from the ruck of bodies in the box to meet his centre, but his downward header flew narrowly wide of the home goal.
Half-time- Solihull Moors 2 Rotherham United 0
Following the break, Rotherham were almost caught napping from a quick set-piece as McCallum’s exocet throw put Beesley in the clear but Thompson, who was initially caught off-guard, put in a superb sliding tackle to deny him.
The Millers came within a whisker of reducing the arrears, just five minutes into the half, when Dan Barlaser’s slide rule pass presented Ladapo with the chance to turn and strike on the edge of the box, but Boot, who initially spilled his effort, was somewhat fortunate as he able to gather the ball at the second attempt, near his own goalline.
Minutes later, Olosunde skipped to the by-line to deliver a tantalising centre which looked inch-perfect for Ladapo, but the in-form striker was unable to direct his header goalwards before Boot was yellow-carded for time wasting, from the resultant goal kick.
However, Solihull effectively sealed the deal, just past the hour mark, when McCallum’s lay-off saw Beesley evade the half-hearted tackle of Ihiekwe, to race down the touchline before keeping his nerve to find the unmarked James Ball, at the far post, who swept the ball into the heart of the Rotherham goal, giving Iversen no chance.
The Millers refused to throw in the towel and substitute Chiedozie Ogbene got the better of his marker to deliver a delicious centre which Gudger swiped to safety before Ihiekwe looped a header which looked set to find the far corner of the home net until Reckord headed clear from underneath his own crossbar with Ladapo lurking for a tap in.
The Millers gave themselves a glimmer of hope with fifteen minutes remaining when Ogbene swung a dangerous ball into the danger area and Howe was powerless to intervene as Ladapo calmly swept home from close range.
Moments later, Beesley almost put the tie out of sight as he slashed wide from a promising position before Rotherham gave themselves genuine hope of a comeback with 11 minutes to go when Olosunde’s hopeful ball was not dealt with decisively by the home defence and sub Matt Crooks latched onto the pieces to drill a low effort which was blocked en-route to goal and Ihiekwe kept his nerve to curl the rebound into the far corner of the goal.
The Millers were sensing a turnaround was on the cards and Ben Wiles cross-cum-shot was tipped over by Boot before Vassell failed to make the most of an opening, as his centre was cleared.
Minutes later, Warne’s side came within a coat of paint of the equaliser when Wiles’ pass presented Crooks with the chance to drill a low effort which beat the outstretched hand of Boot, before smashing against the upright before Boot spilled Vassell’s resultant corner before gathering luckily, at the second attempt.
The Millers were rewarded for their late bombardment by grabbing an equaliser, with two minutes to go, when Ogbene showed Osborne a clean pair of heels to race down the right flank before floating a cross which saw Smith evade his marker before planting a downward header which found its way into the bottom corner of the net.
Warne’s side capped an amazing reversal of fortunes with a winning goal in second-half stoppage time when Ogbene again showed his turn of speed to latch onto good work by Olosunde to keep the ball in play and the ex-Brentford winger clipped a cross which saw Smith execute another fine header to turn a pulsating tie in Rotherham’s favour against all odds.
Full-time- Solihull Moors 3 Rotherham United 4
Solihull Moors 3
Rotherham United 4
Teams:- Solihull- Boot, Reckord, Storer, Gudger, Osborne (Wright 90), McCallum (Blissett 75), Gunning, Vaughan, Howe, Ball, Beesley (Jones 82). Unused- Williams, Hawkridge, Rowley, Yussuf, Jones.
Rotherham- Iversen, Thompson, Vassell, Wiles, Ladapo, Barlaser (Crooks 66), Morris (Ogbene 54), Robertson, Clarke (Smith 26), Ihiekwe, Olosunde. Unused- Price, Cooper, Lindsay, Hastie.
Referee- C Boyeson
Attendance- 2372 (437)