Seaside delight for Millers......
ROTHERHAM United made it three wins in the space of a week following a hard-fought victory over high-flying Blackpool thanks to second-half goals from Michael Smith and Clark Robertson, against his former club.
In front of a large travelling contingent at Bloomfield Road, Paul Warne’s side weathered a first-half storm from the Seasiders before gradually taking charge of the affair and they were duly rewarded when Smith put them ahead with a close-range finish before Robertson put the icing on the cake with a volleyed finish, late on.
Following their eye-catching victory over Coventry City in their last league outing, Millers chief Paul Warne had initially retained his faith in the starting line-up for the visit to the Lancashire coast.
However, Robertson was called up to face his former club, as a late replacement for Joe Mattock, who was unavailable, following a muscle injury sustained in the warm-up.
On the bench, flying winger Chiedozie Ogbene shrugged off a hamstring strain to take his place alongside Tuesday night match winner Trevor Clarke, who was rewarded for his excellent cameo against Doncaster – by being named in the Millers squad.
The visitors had the first sight of goal when Dan Barlaser floated a free-kick which was plucked out of the sky by Jak Alnwick before Sean Scannell became the first to see yellow for a late clip on Jamie Lindsay, deep inside the Millers half.
In Blackpool’s first foray of note, Matty Virtue’s slide-rule pass gave Armand Gnanduillet the opportunity to burst into the visiting box but Rotherham skipper Richard Wood was his equal – with a fine block, at close quarters.
Moments later, Blackpool successfully threaded the ball to Virtue, who held off the attentions a number of Rotherham defenders, to dig out a left-footed effort from the edge of the box but Dan Iversen managed to bundle the ball to safety, albeit unconvincingly.
Just past the quarter hour, Matt Crooks took aim from just outside the box but Ben Heneghan and Ollie Turton threw their bodies in the way of his shot before the Millers goal led a charmed life, in a whirlwind sixty seconds.
In a fine-flowing home move, Scannell worked a shooting position to fire through the legs of Michael Ihiekwe forcing an acrobatic save from Iversen and with Rotherham heads still in a spin, the home side planted the ball back into the danger area where Virtue got on the wrong side of the visitors rearguard, to fire against the crossbar from point-blank range, before the ball rolled to safety – to the relief of all those with a Rotherham United persuasion.
Moments later, Blackpool attacked with menace, once again, and good work from Scannell paved the way for Liam Feeney to fire goalwards but Robertson blocked his low shot en-route to goal.
Just before the half-hour mark, Blackpool threatened once again when Heneghan’s clipped cross was nodded goalwards by Gnanduillet but Iversen smothered his point-blank effort before Callum Guy headed over, after Ihiekwe was well-stationed to deny Gnanduillet, in the build-up.
Despite being second best for much of the first half, Rotherham came within a coat of paint of the opener, just shy of the break, when Jay Spearing was penalised on halfway and from the resultant free-kick, Barlaser floated a delicate centre which was flicked-on smartly by Ihiekwe – with his back to goal, and the ball looped over the attentions of Alnwick, before crashing against the woodwork.
In the last noteworthy action of the half, Smith’s pass gave Crooks the opportunity to deliver a delicious centre which narrowly evaded the on-rushing Ben Wiles, at the far post.
Half-time- Blackpool 0 Rotherham United 0
Following the break, Feeney became the next to incur the wrath of the referee for a late challenge on Crooks, which saw him cautioned, in an incident which led to the opening goal of the game.
The Millers punished the hosts from the resultant free-kick when Barlaser caressed a centre into the danger area and Robertson rose above his marker to plant a downward header into the six-yard box and Smith emerged from the ruck of bodies to steer the ball past the outstretched hand of Alnwick.
The visiting joy was almost short-lived as Guy launched an up-and-under which prompted an aerial duel between one-time Millers target Curtis Tilt and Iversen, which saw the home centre-half tower above the Danish stopper to head home, but any home celebrations were curtailed by an offside award.
Moments later, James Husband tried his luck from distance and his daisycutter had Iversen nervously scurrying across goal, as it shaved the upright before Olosunde was cautioned for upending Scannell in full flow.
Just past the hour mark, Crooks required extensive treatment following a clash of heads on halfway, and the former Northampton Town midfielder was forced to leave the fray before Feeney was on the end of a lightning Blackpool counter but Olosunde showed great awareness to snuff out his dangerous cross.
The Millers had another scare when Turton lined up another effort from the edge of the box but Lindsay bravely put his body on the line with a fine block to deny him before Feeney was fortunate to escape further sanction for a hack on Clarke.
Minutes later, sub Ogbene started and finished a move with a fierce drive from distance which stung the palms of Alnwick, in the home goal before Guy was yellow-carded for a cynical foul on the ex-Brentford winger.
However, the Millers sealed the deal with three minutes remaining when Barlaser put a free-kick into the box and with Blackpool unable to clear the danger, Lindsay’s knock forward paved the way for Robertson, to calmly stroke a fierce effort with his favoured left-foot, into the far corner of the net giving Alnwick no chance.
Blackpool came close to halving the arrears when Gnanduillet’s towering header cannoned against the crossbar with Iversen beaten before Lindsay was denied a third goal, when he raced into the box to strike goalwards but his effort was blocked by Tilt.
Tensions boiled over when Ogbene was carded for time-wasting before Heneghan, Barlaser and Clarke joined him in the book, as the game lost shape near the end.
However, Blackpool gave themselves as glimmer of hope when Iversen denied sub Nathan Delfouneso with a fine save before Tilt was felled in the box.
Gnanduillet notched a late consolation from the resultant spot-kick but it mattered little as the referee brought the game to an end, almost immediately from the restart.
Full-time- Blackpool 1 Rotherham United 2
Rotherham United 2
Teams- Blackpool- Alnwick, Heneghan, Spearing (Delfouneso 62), Feeney, Scannell (Hardie 77), Tilt, Virtue, Turton, Gnanduillet, Guy, Husband (C MacDonald 86). Unused- Mafoumbi, Edwards, Delfouneso, Nottingham, Bange.
Rotherham- Iversen, Robertson, Wood, Wiles, Barlaser, Lindsay, Crooks (Clarke 63), Ihiekwe, Olosunde (Jones 83), Hastie (Ogbene 58), Smith. Unused- Price, S MacDonald, Morris, Lamy.
Referee- C Pollard
Attendance- 9932 (1801)