Rotherham United’s seven-game unbeaten run in Sky Bet League One came to an end on Saturday afternoon as Peterborough United held on to secure all three points, thanks to first-half goals from Ivan Toney and Sam Szmodics.
Michael Ihiekwe did hand the Millers a lifeline nine minutes before the break as he rifled one past Christy Pym, but it wasn’t to be for Paul Warne’s men who suffered their first league defeat in eight games.
In what was a battle between two free-scoring sides, it was the hosts who got off to the perfect start as Toney put them ahead inside two minutes. The striker was well found by Siriki Dembele who slotted a pass into his path, and he dispatched a fine finish into the far corner of the net.
After falling behind, the Millers had the task of imposing themselves on the game as they searched for a leveller, but they were unable to test Pym in the early exchanges despite plenty of possession.
Instead, it was Peterborough who went close to doubling their advantage on 17 minutes after Richard Wood pulled down an opposition player on the edge of the area. Jack Taylor was the man to step up and take the resulting free-kick, but his powerful drive flew just over the crossbar.
As the first half approached its midway point, the home supporters were on their feet again as their side did make it 2-0. Dan Butler found space down the left flank to thread a through ball into Szmodics, and he showed great composure to put the final touch to a swift counter-attack.
That didn’t rattle the Millers, however, and they went mightily close at the other end with 35 minutes played. Hakeeb Adelakun was the man who let fly from distance, only to be denied by an acrobatic save from Pym.
Less than 60 seconds later though and Rotherham did pull themselves back within touching distance, courtesy of Ihiekwe’s second goal of the Sky Bet League One season. Dan Barlaser’s corner found the defender who reacted first to smash one into the roof of the goal from six yards.
Just six minutes after the restart, Iversen was called into action and he responded brilliantly to keep Posh at bay. Taylor clipped a ball across the face of goal and Toney met it with a stooping header, only for the Rotherham goalkeeper to somehow tip it wide of the post.
Remarkably, the game was then brought to a temporary halt as one of the officials was forced off with an injury, but after a qualified referee stood in as the fourth man, things got back under way just before the hour mark.
Dembele then had two chances in quick succession, but he was denied by a perfectly timed Ihiekwe sliding challenge on the first occasion before his second effort drifted wide. Up the other end on 71 minutes, Michael Smith saw a header brilliantly kept out by Pym from close range.
As the packed away end urged the Millers forward, the players responded by producing several attacks and they almost found a way through with 77 minutes on the clock. Adelakun showed some neat footwork before standing up a cross, and despite making a strong connection with his effort, the goalkeeper was alert to make the stop once again.
Julien Lamy, Shaun MacDonald and Jerry Yates were introduced as substitutes late on as Rotherham tried to dig out an equaliser in the dying embers, but they couldn’t find a way through as the home side clung on for the victory.
Peterborough United | Pym, Butler, Beevers ©, Kent, Szmodics, Dembele (Jones 82’), Brown (Knight 68’), Thompson, Toney, Ward (Bennett 90+3’), Taylor.
Unused Substitutes | Chapman, Eisa, Boyd, Mason.
Rotherham United | Iversen, Olosunde (MacDonald 90+2’), Wood ©, Ihiekwe, Mattock, Ogbene, Wiles (Yates 90+2’), Barlaser, Adelakun (Lamy 83’), Ladapo, Smith.
Unused Substitutes | Bilboe, Clarke, Lindsay, Hastie.