Rotherham United continued their pre-season preparations ahead of the 2022/23 campaign with a second friendly in as many days as they locked horns with Salford City at the Peninsula Stadium, where the last touch of the game from Joshua Kayode earned them a 1-1 draw.
Conor McAleny’s first half goal looked destined to prove the difference in another run-out which allowed Millers boss Paul Warne to distribute minutes amongst his senior professionals, before Joel Holvey put it on a plate for Kayode to level with the very last touch of the game.
With the Salford sunshine beating down on the Peninsula Stadium and the Millers having played a night previously at Harrogate Town, the fixture was always going to pose a question of physicality for the limited numbers available to boss Warne.
His hand was forced into playing a blend of senior professionals and younger prospects for the Wednesday trip to Greater Manchester, in a side which saw ages range from Richard Wood’s 37-years-old right through to 18 in the starting XI.
The Millers’ start wasn’t quite as bright as their yellow and black change strip but they showed early promise as they tested the resolve of the Salford rearguard with a number of dangerous set plays.
Barlaser looked to provide the ammunition from a double-salvo of corners following a decent free kick, but goalkeeper Tom King stood up to the test, punching the final one of the series away from danger.
That spell would be the last time that the visitors would catch sight of Tom King’s goal for a while though and it was up the other end where the next action of note would see Salford take the lead.
Callum Hendry’s industry in the final third saw him steal possession back before his charge for the byline freed up room for McAleny in the box, who was licking his lips at the prospect of a pull back, which eventually came and he duly despatched beyond a helpless Vickers.
Georgie Kelly’s red-hot scoring form in pre-season almost continued when Dan Barlaser bent a sumptuous pass up the right-hand channel, which would drop for him to drive for the penalty area, before chopping back onto his left foot and bending an effort just wide of the far post.
The Millers looked to find their stride with every minute that elapsed on the approach to half time and they almost levelled seconds before the whistle.
It was Kelly again making the running, this time as provider for Wiles, who fired a pull back inches wide of the far post as he advanced into the Salford area.
Half-time | Salford City 1 v 0 Rotherham
The second phase started in similar fashion to the first with both sides jostling for position but neither really threatening the opposition goal.
It wasn’t until over five minutes in when the Millers robbed the ball back high up the pitch through Ollie Rathbone that the first glimpse of goal of the second half was spotted.
Rathbone’s endeavour set Kelly driving forward and his quick-thinking saw him bend an improvised outside-of-the-foot ball in towards substitute Joshua Kayode, whose eyes had lit up for a header from six yards, until Salford’s retreating trialist took it out of his path to deny an almost certain goal.
Warne continued to ring the changes in the second period meaning that the XI out on the pitch became more and more youthful.
Scorer of the only goal of the game so far McAleny almost added a spectacular second when he caught everyone bar Josh Vickers off-guard with his thunderbolt from 25 yards, which was expertly beaten away by the former Lincoln City stopper.
Odoffin’s introduction elicited an almost immediate reaction when he powered forward to head a floated Lindsay free kick at goal, but was unable to generate the necessary power to really trouble the Salford goal on 65 minutes.
The hosts must have been sure they’d doubled their advantage when a ball dropped kindly for substitute Brandon Thomas-Asante inside the penalty area, but with just Vickers to beat, his point blank range effort drew an unbelievable reaction save from the former Lincoln City stopper to keep it at 1-0.
With everyone in the Peninsula Stadium set to go home having witnessed a fairly archetypal pre-season friendly, Holvey delivered the ball of the game directly onto Kayode's head, who simply couldn't steer his header wide and didn't, levelling the match with the final touch.
Full-time | Salford City 1 v 1 Rotherham
Millers | Vickers; Humphreys (Odoffin 62), Wood (Trialist 45), Hull; McGuckin (Holvey 78), Barlaser (Warne 62), Rathbone (Lindsay 62), Wiles (Douglas 62), Durose (Kioso 67); Ogbene (Kayode 45), Kelly (Nesbitt 52 (Champion 88)).
Unused | Johansson.