Millers earn friendly win......
ROTHERHAM United continued their League One preparations with a narrow friendly victory over near neighbours Chesterfield.
Michael Smith’s first half penalty proved the difference against the National League outfit after Will Evans had cancelled out the Millers opener, which came via an own goal from Anthony Gerrard.
For the short hop to the Proact Stadium, Millers chief Paul Warne decided to stick with a 4-3-3 formation – which he has favoured throughout the pre-season campaign.
Summer recruits Shaun Macdonald, Freddie Ladapo, Carlton Morris and Dan Barlaser were starters in Derbyshire with USA international Matt Olosunde named amongst the replacements.
The hosts settled into the game the quicker and Scott Boden’s smart lay-off paved the way for David Buchanan to fizz a dangerous centre which flew across the Rotherham goalmouth narrowly evading home runners.
Moments later, Morris and Barlaser combined to great effect on the left flank for the latter to dink a cross which was headed away by Haydn Hollis before Buchanan had to stick out a timely leg to prevent Ladapo from racing away.
In the same Millers attack, Morris picked up the pieces to advance to the edge of the box but he dragged his low effort harmlessly wide of the home goal before the Millers came close to opening the scoring, just before the quarter hour.
A floated corner saw Michael Ihiekwe rise highest in the box to nod the ball down into the path of Ladapo, who turned smartly, to turn the ball towards goal but a combination of Shwan Jalal and a well-stationed defender kept the ball out.
A fine flowing move from the Millers involving Morris, Joe Mattock and Ladapo saw the home side short of numbers and the ex-Plymouth striker ghosted inside Jonathan Smith to fire a low effort which smashed into the side netting.
In a rare Chesterfield foray, Smith fired a cross-cum-shot which had Lewis Price nervously scurrying to his near post before Barlaser showed fleet of foot, at the other end, to work a shooting position, before stinging the palms of Jalal with a long range effort.
Minutes later, Billy Jones and Ben Wiles injected pace into a Rotherham move giving Ladapo, a glimpse of goal, and the tall striker worked a yard of space to clip an effort which whistled narrowly wide.
The Millers were duly rewarded for their early dominance when Barlaser delivered a tantalising centre into the box and Gerrard, in attempting to clear and with his wrong foot, could only divert the ball past the outstretched hand of Jalal, into the bottom corner of his own net.
However, Rotherham’s joy proved short-lived as Chesterfield levelled matters just minutes later when Wiles failed to clear initially and with Millers heads still in a spin, Joe Rowley’s volley brought a superb reflex save from Price but the ball fell kindly for Evans, who kept his nerve to smash a right-footed effort into the roof of the Millers net.
Evans went from hero to villain in the space of a frantic few minutes when Rotherham were granted the opportunity to regain the lead when Price’s punt forward was not dealt with decisively by the home defence and Morris got on the wrong side of Evans to burst into the box before being felled and the referee had no hesitation in pointing to the spot, before cautioning the home goalscorer.
Smith kept his composure from the resultant penalty to fire low and hard into the bottom corner of the Chesterfield goal giving Jalal, who dived correctly to his right, no chance.
In the last action of the half, Rotherham switched the play to great effect and Ladapo, who looked dangerous throughout the first half, dinked a cross which had Jalal nervously looking over his shoulder, as it floated narrowly over.
Half-time- Chesterfield 1 Rotherham United 2
Following a slow start to the second half by both sides, Rotherham had the first sight of goal when Wiles’ clip into the box saw Barlaser attempt to turn the ball goalwards – although he was snuffed out by a retreating defender before Chesterfield launched a quick counter-attack led by Josef Yarney but Laurence Maguire failed to get the ball under his spell, on the edge of the box, following Boden’s lay-off.
Minutes later, Chesterfield had a period of pressure which ended when Gerrard blasted over from the ‘D’ outside the box before Matt Crooks made an immediate impression from the bench with a slide-rule pass which gave Ladapo the opportunity to strike goalwards but he blazed an effort into the Rotherham faithful behind the goal.
The home side came within a coat of paint of levelling matters for a second time when Robbie Weir’s inch-perfect pass was in the stride of fellow sub Jack McKay, who dribbled an effort across goal and despite sub ‘keeper Laurence Bilboe being unable to intervene, the ball struck the foot of the post before rolling to safety.
Minutes later, Liam Mandeville fired over before Boden looped a header into the grateful hands of Bilboe.
The Millers came close to adding a third when firstly Clark Robertson’s wicked ball was inches away from the outstretched leg of Jamie Proctor and Ladapo at the far post before Vassell fired a stinging drive from distance which had Luke Coddington at full stretch in the home goal.
Following the much anticipated flurry of changes the game lost its edge – with few chances near the end, as Rotherham held on to record a morale-boosting victory.
Full-time- Chesterfield 1 Rotherham United 2
Rotherham United 2
Teams:- Chesterfield- Jalal (Coddington 46), Buchanan (Sheridan 74), Evans, Maguire (Shaw 74), Rowley (McKay 61), Weston (Weir 46), Mandeville (Wedgbury 74), Gerrard (Sharman 74), Boden (Wakefield 74), J Smith (Yarney 46), Hollis.
Rotherham- Price (Bilboe 46), Jones, Mattock (Robertson 62), MacDonald (Olosunde 73), Wood, Wiles (Crooks 63), Ladapo (Kayode 80), Morris (Vassell 72), Barlaser, Ihiekwe, M Smith (Proctor 63). Unused- Hinds, Trialist
Referee- D Middleton
Attendance- 1675 (626)