Millers slip to defeat...
Rotherham United wasted a chance to close the gap on the Sky Bet League One automatic promotion spots when they suffered a solitary goal defeat at the hands of Charlton Athletic.
The Millers, who had slipped from first to third in the table following three weeks of league inactivity, failed to make the most of a dominant first-half display at a noisy AESSEAL New York Stadium as Charlton returned to the capital with maximum points thanks to George Dobson’s second-half strike.
Following their Papa Johns Trophy triumph last weekend, Millers boss Paul Warne made three changes to his starting line-up for the visit of the Addicks.
Swedish stopper Viktor Johansson retained his place between the sticks with Josh Vickers ruled out for the season with a hand injury.
Jamaican international Wes Harding was recalled at the heart of the Millers rearguard as Joe Mattock dropped to the bench.
Shane Ferguson was rewarded for his impressive substitute cameo at Wembley with a starting berth while Freddie Ladapo was asked to lead the Rotherham line alongside top-scorer Michael Smith.
The feel-food factor from the Wembley showpiece was evident, prior to kick-off. The ‘Red and White’ faithful were whipped up into a pre-match frenzy with Warne orchestrating the AESSEAL New York Stadium fans, before the players were led out.
Skipper Richard Wood drew special applause from the home crowd, as he lined up for his 200th starting appearance in club colours.
The kick-off was delayed for a few minutes, due to a medical emergency, at the side of the pitch.
When play was ready to go ahead, the Millers were naturally quick out of the blocks, but it was Charlton, who had the first sight of goal when Corey Blackett-Taylor threaded a low shot which was comfortably gathered by Johansson.
Last weekend’s goalscorer Michael Ihiekwe headed harmlessly over from Harding’s long throw before Charlton skipper Jason Pearce was forced to head Smith’s dangerous centre over his own bar with Ladapo lurking in the vicinity.
Minutes later, Blackett-Taylor was fortunate to escape sanction by clipping the heels of a jet-heeled Chiedozie Ogbene but the pressure was released on the visitors from the following free-kick when a foul was awarded after Ihiekwe had headed over from Ferguson’s centre.
Pearce was clearly trying to get under the skin of Smith following a couple of untidy tussles before Wiles almost repeated his Wembley heroics – this time, with his less favoured left foot – with a flashing volley from distance which whistled narrowly wide of the target.
The Millers were playing with a degree of fluency and Dan Barlaser found Wiles with an eye-of-a-needle pass before the Rawmarsh-born midfielder caressed a lovely chip over the top, which may have been more akin to the US Masters, and Smith hooked his volley over, from close range, although any goal would have been chalked off for offside.
Warne’s side came within a hair’s breadth of the opener when Barlaser delivered a delicious centre and Ogbene had ghosted away from his marker, but the Republic of Ireland flyer could not make a telling connection with his header, from just yards out, and the ball agonisingly whistled past the upright.
The Millers were dominant for the opening half-hour without due reward and they had a scare when Charlton lumped the ball up field following the breakdown of a Rotherham corner and Ollie Rathbone found himself last man with Conor Washington, who got the better of the home midfielder initially to skip away, but Rathbone redeemed himself with a superbly timed tackle before Washington could get his shot away, following a lung-bursting run by both players.
The home fans had another nervy moment which Ogbene’s back header almost caught out Johansson, who spared his blushes, with a timely gather, near his own line.
Wiles had a clear taste for the spectacular with another stinging effort from long range which struck Pearce en-route to goal before trying his luck, from a shot with his in-step which cleared the Charlton crossbar.
Akin Famewo became the first to see yellow for an agricultural challenge on Rathbone.
Both sides traded chances, just prior to the break, when Barlaser clipped a tantalising ball which was met by the head of Ihiekwe, who forced Craig MacGillivray into an acrobatic save, although a flag had already been raised, before Blackett-Taylor dragged a shot wide, at the other end.
Half-time: Rotherham United 0 Charlton Athletic 0
Attacking the KCM Waste Management Stand, the Millers fans were in good voice, at the start of the second half.
The home side had a half-chance when Smith’s deft flick paved the way for Ferguson to advance down the touchline before hanging a cross to Smith, who could not control his header, as it blazed over.
The Millers were almost caught out when Albie Morgan skipped down the left flank before planting a cross which Washington turned goalwards, but Johansson showed good reflexes to keep the ball out, before Blackett-Taylor flashed the rebound across the face of the home goal.
Warne’s side failed to heed the warning though as Charlton silenced the home faithful, by opening the scoring on 55 minutes.
The Londoners continued to probe in and around the Rotherham box, and the ball was played back to a central position, and Dobson made no mistake by firing a fierce right-footed effort, from just outside the box, which arched away from the attentions of Johansson, to find the far corner of the net.
The Millers were at sixes and sevens, momentarily, and Blackett-Taylor blazed over from long range.
Warne looked to turn the tide of the encounter, by making a double substitution, in the shape of Mickel Miller and Jamie Lindsay.
The move almost paid dividends when both Ladapo and Wood were inches away from meeting balls into the box.
Ladapo was almost the beneficiary of a fortunate ricochet but his shot was blocked before Lindsay was snuffed out on the follow-up.
Fellow sub Miller failed to make the most of a clever lay-off from Ihiekwe, when he blasted over with the goal at his mercy.
Jordi Osei-Tutu made an immediate impression from the bench with a lovely run from deep but Ogbene failed to make the most of his good work.
The Millers were struggling to recreate their impressive first-half display and Smith failed to trouble the target with a long range drive before Washington almost took advantage of some defensive hesitation but Johansson plucked his chipped effort out of the sky.
The game looked set for a grandstand finish, but it never materialised and it was not to be Rotherham’s day, as MacGillivray and Athletic held firm, in the latter stages of the game, as it was a case of after the Lord Mayor’s Show, for the Millers, after last weekend’s memorable occasion at Wembley.
Full-time: Rotherham United 0 Charlton Athletic 1
Rotherham United 0
Charlton Athletic 1
Teams: Rotherham- Johansson, Harding, Barlaser (Osei-Tutu 68), Wood, Wiles, Ladapo, Ogbene, Ferguson (Miller 62), Rathbone (Lindsay 62), Ihiekwe, Smith. Unused- Chapman, Mattock, Kayode, Edmonds-Green.
Charlton- MacGillivray, Dobson, Famewo, Pearce, Stockley, Morgan, Gilbey, Washington, Matthews, Blackett-Taylor (Purrington 90), Clare. Unused- Harness, Jaiyesimi, Forster-Caskey, John, Leko, Burstow.
Referee: R Joyce
Attendance: 9087 (442)