Millers fightback for vital point...
ROTHERHAM United grabbed a vital point in their fight for Championship survival, from the jaws of defeat, following a superb second-half fightback against Hull City.
The Millers suffered an early blow when Jarrod Bowen noted with the home side’s first attack before Fraizer Campbell doubled the Tigers lead with just over 20 minutes on the clock.
However, Warne’s side showed their never-say-die spirit, at the start of the second half, when sub Anthony Forde tapped home from close range before fellow sub Jon Taylor’s deflected strike put the Millers back on level terms.
The visitors looked the most likely winners in the latter stages when Clark Robertson forced back-to-back saves from David Marshall but Warne’s side had to settle for a share of the spoils, despite their best efforts.
Following their hard-fought draw with Wigan Athletic at the weekend, Warne made four changes to his starting line-up for the trip to the KCOM Stadium.
In a 3-5-2 formation, Zak Vyner was asked to play the wingback role while Michael Ihiekwe was recalled as one of the three centre-halves, alongside Robertson and Richard Wood.
Richie Towell returned to the Millers engine room while Jerry Yates was given a rare start, upfront, alongside Michael Smith.
In the early seconds, Rotherham won a free kick and Joe Mattock swung an inviting centre which was met by the head of Robertson, but the Scotsman’s header lacked power, as it flashed harmlessly wide of the target.
However, Hull took the lead with two minutes on the clock with their first attack of note when a ball from the heart of midfield saw Bowen get on the wrong side of Wood and the highly-rated player showed the Millers skipper a clean pair of heels, as he darted into the box before shooting across goal and the ball beat the outstretched hand of Marek Rodak to find the bottom corner of the net.
The Millers responded positively to the early setback and Semi Ajayi’s knockdown gave Yates a glimpse of goal but the young striker was unable to get the ball under his spell and the chance was lost.
At the other end, Bowen tried his luck from distance but Wood blocked his effort en-route to goal before Ihiekwe was forced into a hasty header to prevent Campbell from racing clear, in the next home attack.
On the quarter hour, Yates raced down the right flank but his attempted cross to Smith floated harmlessly into the grateful hands of Marshall before Wood was inches away from meeting Towell’s centre, but he was ushered out by a retreating defender.
However, the Millers were given a mountain to climb on 23 minutes when the home side doubled their lead.
A threaded ball into the box was latched upon by Bowen, who weighed up his options before delivering a tantalising centre across the face of goal and with Rodak unable to intervene with an outstretched hand, Campbell was on-hand to scoop the ball into the unguarded net from close range.
Minutes later, Richie Towell fired a swerving shot from long range which was parried to safety by Marshall before Rodak was forced to take evasive action, at the other end, to prevent Kamil Grosicki adding a third, straight from the corner kick.
Moments later, Robertson and Towell spread the play to great effect to present Vyner with the chance to flash a centre into the path of Smith, but the Millers frontman was unable to get his shot away.
In the next home attack, Liam Ridgewell’s run and pass presented Jackson Irvine with the chance to curl a long range effort which had Rodak backtracking nervously, as it narrowly cleared the Millers crossbar.
In the last noteworthy action of the half, Will Vaulks latched onto a loose ball to fire a piledriver from distance which was arrowing into the bottom corner but Marshall’s superb acrobatic intervention kept the ball out.
Half-time- Hull City 2 Rotherham United 0
Following the break, Rotherham were quick out of the blocks and they gave themselves a lifeline, three minutes into the half, when Vyner’s clipped ball into the channel set sub Taylor away in space and in his first meaningful contribution, since his half-time introduction, the Millers speedster raced into the box to fire a fizzed centre which Marshall could only half-stop, on his own goal line, and Forde was on-hand to tap home into the empty net.
The Millers were visibly by the goal and Smith tried his luck with a speculative effort which was bravely blocked by a retreating Hull defender before Taylor was ushered out near the touchline, just moments later.
Warne’s side were sensing a fightback was on the cards and Hull failed to deal with Vaulks’ long throw into the box and Taylor juggled the ball on the edge of the box to work a shooting position before firing a low effort, which took a kind deflection off Robbie McKenzie to change the change the trajectory of the ball and Marshall, in spotting the danger, was hapless, as the ball dribbled into the other corner of the goal.
The Millers had the momentum and the home side had Marshall to thank for retaining parity when Vaulks launched an exocet throw into the box and Robertson emerged from the masse of bodies to flick a header which forced the Scottish ‘keeper into a fingertip save before the home stopper was called into action, seconds later, to deny Robertson for a second time when the former Blackpool defender rose to meet Forde’s corner but Marshall again stood between Rotherham and the lead – with a superb reactive save.
In a rare Hull foray, Marshall launched a punt upfield and Grosicki won a footrace with Vyner to smash a stinging drive from distance but Rodak stood up tall to parry the ball to safety.
With the game on a knife edge, Rotherham countered with purpose and following superb work from Smith to get a long ball under control, the on-rushing Vaulks was the grateful recipient but the Millers midfielder dragged his low effort, wide of the target.
In the dying minutes, Rotherham were almost cruelly denied a share of the spoils when Stephen Kingsley delivered a delicious centre which found Irvine, in acres of space, on the edge of the six-yard box, but with the KCOM holding its breath, the Australian could not direct his glancing header goalwards, as his effort shaved the far post – to the relief of all those associated with the Millers.
Full-time- Hull City 2 Rotherham United 2
Hull City 2
Rotherham United 2
Teams:- Hull- Marshall, Lichaj, Evandro, Grosicki (Pugh 70), Irvine, Bowen, Henriksen, Kingsley, Campbell (Martin 82), McKenzie, Ridgewell. Unused- Long, Burke, Stewart, Milinkovic, Kane.
Rotherham- Rodak, Vyner, Mattock, Vaulks, Ajayi, Wood (Taylor 46), Towell (Crooks 71), Robertson, Ihiekwe, Yates (Forde 38), Smith. Unused- Price, Newell, Williams, Jones.
Referee- S Duncan