Millers fall to derby defeat....
ROTHERHAM United squandered a first-half lead as Doncaster Rovers earned the South Yorkshire bragging rights following a narrow derby day victory.
Jake Hastie, on his Millers debut, put the Millers ahead at the break with a cross-cum-shot but James Coppinger and a Ben Whiteman penalty turned the game on its head for the hosts.
Following their draw with Tranmere Rovers last week, Millers chief Paul Warne reshuffled his pack for the short hop to the Keepmoat Stadium.
Leicester loanee Daniel Iversen was unavailable between the Rotherham sticks due to a late call up to the Denmark national squad, so Lewis Price was asked to deputise.
Warne freshened up his engine room as Shaun MacDonald and Jamie Lindsay were recalled in the central positions as Dan Barlaser and Matt Crooks had to settle for substitutes berths.
Hastie was thrown immediately into the fray following his season-long loan from Rangers while Carlton Morris returned to the starting ranks following injury with Michael Smith named among the replacements and Kyle Vassell missing out due to a knock picked up last weekend.
Following a fast opening by both sides, Doncaster had the first sight of goal when Kazaiah Sterling looked to dink the ball over Michael Ihiekwe, who may have used his arm to halt his progress, but the referee waved away home appeals for a free-kick just outside the box.
Minutes later, Hastie floated a delicious cross into the danger area which was scrambled clear by the home defence before Ben Wiles fired a corner which was headed behind by former Millers loanee Reece James.
Hastie was looking dangerous in the early stages and the flying winger almost got on the end of Freddie Ladapo’s smart turn and pass but the ball skimmed off the Keepmoat Stadium surface into the grateful hands of Ian Lawlor.
Moments later, Hastie planted another delicious centre into the box but Richard Wood was unable to direct his header goalwards under pressure from a home defender before the Rotherham skipper was denied, in the next phase of play, from Wiles’ far post corner.
In Doncaster’s first real attack of note, a fine flowing move took a number of Millers out of the equation and home skipper Whiteman had the opportunity to strike from distance but his rising shot cleared the visitors’ crossbar.
Moments later, Robertson’s error was pounced upon by Alfie May, who gave evergreen Coppinger the chance to strike but the Scottish defender redeemed himself by blocking his shot en-route to goal.
Just past the hour mark, Wood nipped Coppinger’s pocket before striding majestically into Doncaster’s half but Hastie failed to make the most out of the Rotherham counter-attack before Ihiekwe had a good opportunity when he rose highest to meet Wiles’ hanging corner, but the Millers centre-half could not glance his point-blank header towards goal, as it fizzed narrowly wide.
However, Rotherham managed to break the deadlock eight minutes before the interval when Wiles was felled and Hastie weighted up his options with the resultant free-kick to plant another centre with his trusted left-foot and despite the ball arrowing towards Ihiekwe, the ball evaded his attentions, but flew past the outstretched hand of Lawlor, who had anticipated a touch from the Millers centre-half, to find the far corner of the net.
The Millers were lifted by the opener and Hastie again showed his class to ghost past Brad Halliday to float another dangerous centre which Wiles got his head to from close range, but the ball skimmed off his head, as it flew wide.
Just before the break, Wood became the first to see yellow for a cynical pull-back on Sterling, as the home side looked to break before the Millers skipper escaped further sanction for another foul on May, soon after.
In the dying seconds of the half, Tom Anderson joined him in the book for a late challenge on Price.
Half-time- Doncaster Rovers 0 Rotherham United 1
Following the interval, Rotherham started in a positive vein and Ladapo shrugged off his marker to burst into the box before being snuffed out before Matt Olosunde fired a dangerous centre across the Doncaster goalmouth.
Minutes later, Hastie skimmed a corner into the Doncaster box and Wood emerged from the ruck of bodies into power a header which narrowly cleared the home crossbar.
Just before the hour mark, Olosunde became the next to incur the wrath of the referee by needlessly pulling back former Rotherham winger Jon Taylor before Morris was on-hand to divert Coppinger’s free-kick to safety, seconds later.
Moments later, Doncaster probed the Rotherham box before Coppinger clipped an inviting centre which was met by Taylor, who headed over from a promising position.
The home side were cranking up the pressure and after Rotherham only half-cleared, Ben Sheaf struck a sweet left-footed effort from just outside the box which brought a superb, acrobatic save from Price before Anderson headed wide, in the next phase of play.
Doncaster were rewarded for their second-half efforts when Cameron John sneaked around the back to pull-back a cross which was inviting for Coppinger, who failed to make a clean connection with his strike, but his effort deceived Price, who was wrong-footed, as the ball found the heart of the Millers goal.
The home side were visibly lifted by the equaliser and Taylor almost came back to haunt his former club with a darting run and strike which stung the palms of Price, who diverted the ball to safety.
Moments later, sub Matt Crooks put his body on the line to block Kieran Sadlier’s snap shot before Price was forced into a smothered save to deny James’ low effort.
Price was called into action, once again, when Niall Ennis’ deflected strike looped into his path before Ennis took advantage of some slack Rotherham defending to fire a snap shot which brought a flying save from the former Welsh international ‘keeper.
The home side were looking the most likely and Brad Halliday tried his luck with a dipping effort which flew inches over the Millers bar before the home side were granted an opportunity to win the game with three minutes to go.
A ball was threaded into the Rotherham box and Ennis, in an attempt to get his shot away, was brought down by Ihiekwe and the referee had no hesitation in pointing to the spot.
Whiteman kept his nerve from the resultant penalty when he calmly wrong-footed Price to find the bottom corner of the net.
In the dying minutes, Whiteman almost rubbed further salt into Rotherham wounds with a curling effort which shaved the far post before Ladapo had Rotherham’s last chance of note when sub Joe Mattock’s deflected cross fell in his path, but the ex-Plymouth striker was unable to scuff the ball towards the home goal.
Full-time- Doncaster Rovers 2 Rotherham United 1
Doncaster Rovers 2
Rotherham United 1
Teams:- Doncaster- Lawlor, Halliday, James, Anderson, Sheaf, Whiteman, Taylor (Blair 81), Sterling (Ennis 46), May (Sadlier 61), Coppinger, John. Unused- Dieng, Amos, Blaney, Longbottom.
Rotherham- Price, MacDonald (Crooks 69), Wood, Wiles, Ladapo, Morris (Smith 80), Robertson, Lindsay, Ihiekwe, Olosunde, Hastie (Mattock 76). Unused- Bilboe, Thompson, Barlaser, Lamy.
Referee- Martin Coy
Attendance- 11407 (3392)