Hastie earns Millers point....
JAKE Hastie’s third goal in as many games earned Rotherham United a deserved share of the spoils following a hard-fought draw with Sunderland at the Stadium of Light.
Paul Warne’s side found themselves behind within the first minute when Marc McNulty opened the scoring but after Daniel Iversen smartly kept out Aiden McGeady’s spot-kick, the Millers gradually grew in confidence and they were rewarded for a much-improved second half display when Hastie equalised with a rasping effort.
Following their handsome victory over Bolton Wanderers at the weekend, Warne kept faith with his starting line-up for the trip to Wearside.
Joe Mattock continued to lead the side, in the absence of club skipper Richard Wood, who was named amongst the substitutes.
The Millers made the worst possible start as the hosts broke the deadlock within the first minute when Freddie Ladapo was penalised for a foul on Alim Ozturk and Ozturk arrowed a long free-kick which caught the Millers rearguard napping and McNulty was the grateful recipient as he bared down on goal, and the home striker calmly rounded the advancing Iversen, before slotting into the unguarded net.
The Millers responded positively to the setback and Ben Wiles floated a free-kick which was met by the head of Ladapo, but his tame header was straight down the throat of Jon McLaughlin before McGeady nipped the pocket of Matt Olosunde, who dwelt in possession, but McNulty failed to make the most out of the opening, as he was crowded out before he could get his shot away.
Minutes later, Ladapo had a glimpse of goal and the ex-Plymouth striker fired a daisycutter from distance which skimmed off the Stadium of the Light surface but McLaughlin was his equal with a smothered save before McGeady showed his class, at the other end, to work a crossing position but Luke O’Nien blasted over, under pressure from a Rotherham defender.
Just past the quarter hour, the Millers were indebted to Iversen for keeping them within striking distance when Lyndon Gooch and McNulty combined smartly to release McGeady, who jinked smartly on the edge of the box, evading a number of challenges including Matt Crooks, to fire a rasping effort which was arrowing into the top corner of the goal until the Dane’s superb intervention with an acrobatic one-handed save.
Minutes later, Rotherham had faint appeals for a spot kick when the ball appeared to strike the arm of O’Nien in the box but the referee waved away visiting protests before McLaughlin hooked an effort over for the hosts in the next phase of play.
Just before the half-hour mark, the Millers’ hopes looked to have been dealt another blow when an innocuous ball forward saw Gooch in a footrace with Clark Robertson and the American midfielder got a foot on the ball in front of the Scottish defender, who felled him in the box, and the referee had no hesitation in pointing to the spot.
From the resultant penalty, McGeady looked to pick his spot from 12 yards but Iversen correctly guessed his intentions, to dive smartly to his left and keep out the Irishman’s tame effort.
Minutes later, the Rotherham travelling contingent were shouting for a penalty of their own when Carlton Morris tumbled under the no-nonsense challenge of Ozturk in the penalty area – but no further action was taken.
In the next Rotherham attack, Sunderland failed to clear Mattock’s free-kick decisively and Wiles tried his luck from distance but his effort flew harmlessly wide of the target before Jake Hastie worked a yard of space on his marker to deliver a tantalising centre which was met by the head of Ladapo, who unfortunately headed straight at McLaughlin.
The Rangers loanee was gradually exerting his influence on the game and he latched onto a long ball forward to round Jon McLaughlin, but from a tight angle, his cross-cum-shot was diverted to safety by a retreating defender before Conor McLaughlin saw yellow, moments later, for a rash challenge on the flying winger.
Moments later, Hastie was again the architect with a whipped corner which was flicked on by Robertson into the path of Crooks, who was unable to direct his point-blank header goalwards.
With half-time approaching, the Millers were given a scare when McGeady latched onto a loose ball before embarking on a mazy run which had Olosunde in a daze, before he curled a delightful effort which had Iversen nervously scurrying across goal, as it flashed narrowly wide of the visitors goal.
Half-time- Sunderland 1 Rotherham United 0
Following the break, Rotherham were on the front foot and they had the ball in the net when Wiles struck a low effort from distance which took a wicked deflection of Ladapo, and McLaughlin was wrong footed, as the ball found the heart of the home goal – but the play had long been brought back as Jordan Willis required treatment in the Sunderland box.
Moments later, Lindsay’s clipped ball over the top narrowly evaded the attentions of Ladapo, who would have been clear, before Wiles’ deflected effort from long range fell invitingly for the on-rushing Hastie, who looked to slip the ball past the advancing McLaughlin, but the Sunderland stopper stood up tall to block his goalbound effort.
However, Hastie was not to be denied and he levelled matters with 24 minutes to go with a well-taken strike.
In the midst of a Rotherham attack, Ladapo got the better of Willis to spread the play to Hastie, who took aim with his favoured left-foot and despite the last-gasp attentions of Conor McLaughlin, the Rotherham winger fired high into the roof of the home net giving McLaughlin’s namesake, Jon, no chance in the home goal.
Hastie was proving Sunderland’s tormentor-in-chief and he threatened the home goal once again when he turned smartly before clipping a right-footed effort which narrowly cleared the home crossbar.
Despite being second best for much of the second 45, Sunderland wasted a gilt-edged chance to regain the lead when Wiles’ misplaced pass paved the way for the lively McGeady to put sub Charlie Wyke, in the clear, after a Rotherham defender lost his footing, but Iversen won the battle of wills with the home striker to block his low effort before McGeady had the Rotherham ‘keeper flying across goal, seconds later – with a curling effort from the edge of the box which shaved the far post.
Home frustration boiled over when McGeady was cautioned for dissent before Ladapo and Hastie combined to great effect, once again, when Hastie looked to find his colleague at the far post for a tap-in, but Ozturk managed to stick out a timely foot to snuff out the danger.
In the dying minutes, Rotherham had the last chance of note when sub Dan Barlaser, with his first touch, delivered an inviting centre which saw Crooks nip in front of his marker to loop a header which flew harmlessly wide of the target.
Full-time- Sunderland 1 Rotherham United 1
Rotherham United 1
Teams:- Sunderland- J McLaughlin, C McLaughlin (Maguire 67), Willis, Ozturk, McGeouch, McNulty (Wyke 60), Gooch (Grigg 85), O’Nien, Dobson, McGeady, Hume. Unused- Burge, Power, Flanagan, Leadbitter.
Rotherham- Iversen, Mattock, Wiles, Ladapo (Barlaser 90), Morris (Smith 81), Robertson, Lindsay, Crooks, Ihiekwe, Olosunde, Hastie (MacDonald 88). Unused- Price, Wood, Lamy, Jones.
Referee- B Toner
Attendance- 29078 (1004)