Morris nets Millers winner....
Carlton Morris was the Rotherham United hero as his fourth goal of the season in all competitions earned the Millers a nervy Roses victory over plucky Accrington Stanley.
Morris’ pinpoint header on the half-hour mark proved the difference between the sides before Rotherham had to play the latter stages of the game with ten men when Chiedozie Ogbene was sent for an early bath, following two yellow cards.
Following their Emirates FA Cup victory over Maidenhead United, Millers chief Paul Warne made just one change to his starting line-up with Scottish defender Clark Robertson returning to the heart of the Rotherham rearguard, at the expense of Richard Wood, who pulled up injured at York Road.
Billy Jones was asked to ply his trade in the left-back slot with regular left-back Joe Mattock absent while in-form Matt Crooks was playing, in support of lone frontman Michael Smith.
The Millers were quick out of the blocks and they almost opened the scoring within 34 seconds when Ben Wiles started a sweeping move which paved the way for Ogbene to skip down the touchline to deliver a centre which skipped off the slick AESSEAL New York Stadium surface to find Morris, who got the ball from under his feet, to dig out a shot which brought an acrobatic save from Dimitar Evtimov, before the ball was scrambled to safety.
In Stanley’s first foray of note, Jordan Clark cut inside with menace to fire a left-footed effort which took a slight deflection off a Rotherham defender to force the ball wide before Dan Barlaser’s slide-rule pass presented Wiles with the chance to hang a cross which found the head of stand-in skipper Michael Ihiekwe, but the former Accrington loanee could not generate enough power on his effort and Evtimov was able to pluck the ball out of the sky with ease.
Moments later, Clark Robertson bravely blocked Dion Charles’ low effort after the Stanley forward had broke clear before Joe Pritchard fired a free-kick with his instep, which flew over the Rotherham wall but failed to trouble the home goal, as it flashed wide.
Just past the quarter hour, Crooks strode with purpose from halfway before trying his luck from distance but he screwed his shot wide before Ogbene showed his marker a clean pair of heels with a jet-heeled run before clipping a cross-cum-shot which shaved the far post.
Minutes later, Ross Sykes headed harmlessly wide from Pritchard’s corner before Ogbene tormented Callum Johnson with a barnstorming run before the Stanley full-back earned the first caution of the afternoon for tripping the Rotherham flyer in full flow.
Ihiekwe soon joined him in the book, seconds later, for bundling over Charles near the touchline before Rotherham broke the deadlock, just before the half-hour mark.
Ogbene was proving a thorn in Stanley’s side and after the former Brentford winger was wrestled to the floor by Stanley skipper Seamus Conneely, the Millers punished the visitors to the full from the resultant free-kick when Wiles clipped a centre which hung in the air and Morris towered above his marker to power a header which arrowed into the far corner of the net giving Evtimov no chance.
The Millers were lifted by the breakthrough and Smith rose highest to meet Matt Olosunde’s cross, soon after, but Evtimov was well-placed to snuff out the danger.
The Bulgarian ‘keeper was in the thick of the action and he found himself in no man’s land when Wiles’ threaded pass saw the Stanley stopper dart from his line before losing the foot race with Crooks, by hauling him down in the process – but the referee opted for a yellow-card with the home faithful baying for more.
In a bad-tempered spell, Robertson became the next to incur the wrath of the referee for a hefty challenge on Charles which saw him carded before Rotherham came within a coat of paint of making it two, just shy of the break, when Wiles’ fired pass saw Morris torment his marker before attempting to find the far corner of the goal with a dipping effort, which flew inches wide.
Half-time- Rotherham United 1 Accrington Stanley 0
Following the break, Conneely became the next to see yellow for a chopping tackle on Jones before Wiles swung over a corner which saw Ihiekwe rise highest but his looping header failed to trouble the Stanley goal.
Minutes later, Wiles was again the architect with an inviting corner which saw Robertson time his run to perfection to power a header from point-blank range, which grazed the outside of the upright before sub Sean McConville threatened the home goal on two occasions, when he was denied just yards out before curling a delicious effort, from the resultant corner, which flew narrowly wide.
Moments later, Rotherham produced a fine-flowing move which ended when Ogbene got around the back to deliver a low centre which Crooks was unable to turn goalwards but the ball fell kindly for Wiles, who struck a first-time effort from the edge of the box which stung the palms of Evtimov, as he parried the ball to safety.
The home fans had their hearts in their mouths when Accrington turned defence into attack with the blink of an eye and the Millers found themselves short of defensive cover when Sam Finley smashed a vicious effort, from the edge of the box which had Iversen acrobatically flying across goal, as it fizzed narrowly wide.
Minutes later, Jones was booked for a clumsy foul on Johnson just outside the box but Stanley failed to make it count from the resultant free-kick before Finley fired a rasping effort which fizzed narrowly over, following a weak Rotherham clearance.
Just seconds before his withdrawal from the fray, Smith looped a header which narrowly cleared the Stanley goal before Ladapo almost made an immediate impression with a mazy run and shot which took a wicked deflection off Harvey Rodgers, as it ballooned over.
There was a moment of controversy when Ogbene looked to usher the ball out of play before appearing to be felled by his opponent, but the referee awarded a free-kick to Stanley, before brandishing a second yellow card to the Millers winger, presumably for simulation.
Stanley almost punished the Millers for their indiscretion when McConville caught the home side napping with a short corner before Joe Maguire swung a wicked left-footed effort which had Iversen sprawling across goal, as it shaved the far post.
The Millers’ goal was living a charmed life and sub Colby Bishop caused havoc in the box and McConville latched onto the loose ball to fire a fierce effort which curled narrowly past the angle of the home goal.
Moments later, Accrington planted the ball into the box and the goal pinged around the danger area before Ihiekwe led from the front to put his body on the line to deny a certain goal for the visitors and preserve the Millers slender lead, to the end of the game.
Full-time- Rotherham United 1 Accrington Stanley 0
Rotherham United 1
Accrington Stanley 0
Teams:- Rotherham- Iversen, Jones, Wiles, Barlaser, Morris (Thompson 88), Robertson, Crooks (Lindsay 76), Ogbene, Ihiekwe, Olosunde, Smith (Ladapo 76). Unused- Price, Vassell, Clarke, Hastie.
Accrington- Evtimov, Johnson, Sykes, Clark, Finley, Pritchard (McConville 46), Maguire (Carvalho 89), Barclay (Bishop 77), Rodgers, Conneely, Charles. Unused- Savin, Edwards, Zanzala, Diallo.
Referee- D Handley
Attendance- 8430 (253)