Millers beaten by Tigers....
Rotherham United came back crashing down to earth with a bump after Hull City ran out comfortable victors at the AESSEAL New York Stadium.
The Millers went into the clash in good heart following back-to-back wins, including the eye-catching midweek victory over in-form Stoke City, but Dan Barlaser’s second goal of the campaign and another goal for sub Georgie Kelly was scant consolation as the Tigers roared home thanks to goals from Jacob Greaves, Cyrus Christie, Ryan Longman and sub Ozan Tufan..
Boss Matt Taylor freshened up his starting options, once again. Club skipper Richard Wood and Lee Peltier added some experience and know-how to the Millers defence while there was a new look to the home strike force.
Tom Eaves lined up against his former club alongside Conor Washington, who netted in the last home outing against Huddersfield Town.
Midweek starters Kelly, Grant Hall, Hakeem Odoffin and Cameron Humphreys were all named on the Rotherham bench.
The Tigers, who were boosted by a large travelling contingent, had the first effort of note in the early minutes when Greg Docherty flashed a cross-cum-shot across the face of the Rotherham goalmouth.
The home side had faint appeals for a spot kick when Brooke Norton-Cuffy showed Greaves a quick pair of heels down the touchline, before showing clever footwork to deliver a hanging left-footed cross which was met by the head of Eaves, but the arm of Tobias Figueiredo took the sting out of it, although it was deemed by the referee to be in a natural position.
Taylor’s side were caught short from a quick counter-attack from the visitors and Greaves swung a ball across field which took Peltier out of the game, and a rampaging Docherty was able to dart to the edge of the box, before drilling a low effort which Viktor Johansson got a hand to, as the Swedish stopper turned it around the post.
From the resultant corner, Dimitrios Pelkas blasted over the bar before Ben Wiles – with his weaker left-foot – did the same at the other end.
Johansson, who had a fantastic game at the bet365 Stadium in midweek, was called into action on two occasions when firstly Ryan Longman tested him before Pelkas stung his palms with another effort following Wes Harding’s error.
However, Hull were indebted to their own ‘keeper Nathan Baxter for preserving parity when Shane Ferguson hung up a cross which was knocked down by Eaves and although Washington was crowded out, Wiles latched onto the loose ball to smash a fierce goalbound effort which brought the best out of Baxter, who tipped the ball over.
Eaves was having a physical tussle with a few of his former colleagues, including Greaves and Alfie Jones, which saw the Hull man penalised for one over-zealous challenge, although Barlaser failed to make it count from the resultant free-kick.
Both sides traded chances when Christie struck an effort into the grateful hands of Johansson before Washington headed harmlessly over from Harding’s cross, at the other end.
With half-time approaching, the game sprang to life when Hull broke the deadlock, but their celebrations were cut short when Rotherham equalised in the dying seconds of the first 45.
It was the Tigers, who drew first blood, when Docherty floated a corner into the box and Rotherham squandered a couple of chances to clear the danger – and with no home defender taking charge – Hull skipper, Greaves, was the quickest to react to the goalmouth scramble, by prodding the ball into the corner of the home net from close range.
However, Rotherham did not let Hull rest of their laurels, and they equalised almost immediately, in their next attack.
The home side managed to work their way up the field, and the visitors were penned deep into their box when Ferguson found Barlaser, who jinked his way past his Hull marker, and despite being at a tight angle, the Geordie Pirlo fired a low effort through the masse of bodies in the box, and Baxter, perhaps unsighted, was helpless, as the ball found the far corner of the goal.
Half-time: Rotherham United 1 Hull City 1
Taylor’s men were now attacking the KCM Waste Management Stand, and Baxter took a chance with the ball at his feet and Eaves almost robbed him of possession before the Hull ‘keeper scrambled the ball clear.
The Millers had a scare when Odoffin, who was introduced as a half-time replacement, was adjudged to have bundled over Greaves, in his first involvement, and after the Millers midfielder was carded, Pelkas looked to smash the resultant free-kick in the near post but Johansson was his equal with a fine save before Regan Slater tried to do the same, at the far post, but Johansson again pulled off another reflex stop.
However, Rotherham failed to heed the warning as Hull regained the lead seven minutes into the half.
There looked little danger for the hosts until Christie showed good intent and clever footwork to evade the attentions of Ferguson and Peltier to ghost into the box, and fire a low right-footed effort which beat the outstretched hand of Johansson to sneak in at the near post.
The Millers were taken momentarily off their stride and Longman’s through ball was misjudged by Peltier and Docherty was able to race towards the home goal unchallenged but Johansson won the battle of wills in the one-on-one situation to block his low effort at close quarters.
However, Rotherham were only given brief respite as Hull extended their lead just before the hour mark.
The home defence was split open by a pass from halfway and Greaves was in acres of space down the left flank. The Hull captain kept his nerve with a pinpoint centre which took a backtracking Wood out of the game, and Longman had the simple task of tapping home at the far post from close range.
There were a flurry of changes, either side of the hour mark, with Taylor making four in a bid to turn the tide of the game, but it was Hull, who continued to threaten and Johansson had to dive at the feet of sub Oscar Estupinan before Slater almost clipped home the rebound but again Rotherham’s ‘keeper came to their rescue with an acrobatic save.
The visitors were going for the jugular and sub Tufan fired over from a promising position before Christie skipped into the box before finding Slater, who looked certain to make it four, but Johansson again proved a tough nut to crack, with a miraculous save.
From the resultant corner, Jean Michael Seri swung over a centre which saw Estupinan rise highest, but his downward header fizzed narrowly wide of the target.
The Millers’ miserable afternoon almost took another turn for the worst when Odoffin – who was walking a disciplinary tightrope - clipped the heels of Ryan Woods, but the referee decided to take no further action.
Hull, who came out on top at Blackpool in midweek, were belying their lowly status in the Sky Bet Championship table when they added a fourth late on, thanks to Tufan.
The Turkish international threatened just before with a rasping effort before getting a long ball under his spell, holding off a backtracking Rotherham defender, before coolly slotting past Johansson.
Estupinan almost rubbed salt into home wounds when he hooked over from close range after being presented a gift from Odoffin, but Rotherham fought to the end, and they were rewarded with a second goal when Eaves showed good composure to pick out Kelly, who swept into the heart of the Hull goal.
In stoppage time, Barlaser fired a free-kick narrowly over before Eaves had a shot blocked but it was a day to forget for Rotherham, whose recent impressive run of form, came to an abrupt end.
Full-time: Rotherham United 2 Hull City 4
Rotherham United 2
Hull City 4
Teams: Rotherham- Johansson, Harding, Barlaser, Wood, Wiles (High 59), Eaves, Norton-Cuffy (Hall 59), Washington (Kelly 63), Ferguson, Rathbone (Odoffin 46), Peltier (Bramall 63). Unused- Vickers, Kelly, Humphreys.
Hull City- Baxter, Greaves, Jones, Figueiredo, Docherty, Woods (Sinik 90), Longman (Estupinan 64), Pelkas (Tufan 64), Seri (Coyle 90), Slater (Fleming 76), Christie. Unused- Ingram, McLoughlin.
Referee- S Martin
Attendance- 11220 (2274)