Millers gain hard-working point....
It was honours even in Matt Taylor’s first game at the Rotherham helm as the Millers and visitors Millwall had to be content with a share of the spoils at the AESSEAL New York Stadium.
Dan Barlaser gave the Millers a dream start when he netted from the spot after Ben Wiles was fouled, but Taylor was denied a winning debut in South Yorkshire when Zian Flemming levelled matters for the capital outfit with a superb strike from distance.
Despite their weekend reversal at the hands of Wigan Athletic, Taylor decided to keep faith with the starting line-up which took to the field against the Latics.
Following their dual caretaker manager roles, club skipper Richard Wood was again asked to marshal affairs at the heart of the Rotherham rearguard while Lee Peltier donned the boots, by taking his place amongst the replacements.
The Millers fans gave Taylor, and his assistant Wayne Carlisle, a rapturous ovation on their AESSEAL New York Stadium bow.
The home faithful were in fine voice prior to kick off and Taylor’s managerial reign got off to the perfect start – when the Millers were presented with the ideal opportunity to break the deadlock, in their first real attack of note.
A clever ball found Wiles in the channel and the Rawmarsh-born midfielder skipped away from the challenge of Murray Wallace with a turn of speed before darting into the box and he then took a slight touch in front of the challenge of Jake Cooper, who brought him down, and the referee after an initial period of thinking time, decided to point to the spot.
Barlaser was entrusted with the spot-kick duties and the home playmaker calmly caressed the ball towards the bottom corner and Lions ‘keeper George Long, despite guessing the right way, and getting a hand to his effort, was unable to keep the ball out.
The Millers were visibly lifted by the breakthrough and Wood showed his leadership qualities by putting in two timely challenges, in quick succession, which brought the home fans off their seats before Conor Washington nearly got on the end of Brooke Norton-Cuffy’s cross before a visiting defender cleared the danger.
Tom Bradshaw had Millwall’s first sniff of goal but he made a hash of his volleyed effort before Wes Harding had to keep his nerve to deny the former Barnsley striker with a smart turn and clearance.
There was little noteworthy action until the half-hour mark when the Lions missed a gilt-edged chance to level matters.
An innocuous ball forward was not dealt with decisively by Wood, and the ball skimmed off the head of the home centre-half, and into the path of Tyler Burey, who had got on the wrong side of Norton-Cuffy, to bare down on goal but the Millwall player fluffed his lines with a timid effort which inexplicably failed to trouble the target.
The Londoners were having their best spell of the half and Burey got the better of Norton-Cuffy in a footrace before planting a cross which saw Bradshaw nip in front of his marker, but he was unable to steer his effort goalwards from close range.
The Millers fans were doing their best to lift their side, and the home side responded in kind when Cohen Bramall forced a corner before Norton-Cuffy curled an effort which cleared the visiting crossbar.
Minutes later, Washington almost took advantage of a lovely ball over the top by Barlaser but a Millwall defender prevented him shooting goalwards before Norton-Cuffy emerged from a cul-de-sac to blaze an effort over.
The Millers looked to be going into the break a goal to the good but it was not to be as Millwall levelled proceedings with a worldie.
There looked little danger for the home side until Flemming picked up possession 25 yards out and the Dutch player opted to switch foot, and after leaving Barlaser in his wake following a dummy, he unleashed a rasping left-footed effort which flew into the top corner of the home goal giving a flying Viktor Johansson no chance.
Half-time: Rotherham United 1 Millwall 1
Both sides traded chances at the start of the second half when Fleeming failed to repeat his first-half heroics when he dragged a shot harmlessly wide before Chiedozie Ogbene had an effort deflected behind at the other end.
George Saville became the first to see yellow for cynically hauling down Wiles on halfway before Grant Hall soon joined him in the book for a clumsy challenge on Bradshaw, in an inviting position.
The Lions almost punished the Millers for their indiscretion from the resultant free-kick when Flemming carefully weighed up his options before striking a lovely effort – this time with his right foot – which was arrowing towards the roof of the Rotherham net until Johansson superbly tipped the ball onto the crossbar, before it fortunately fell to safety.
The Millers goal was living a charmed life temporarily and Flemming’s caressed corner was knocked by into the path of Bradshaw, who looked set to nod home, but he could only loop an effort over from point-blank range.
The home side grabbed a breather when Cooper was deservedly cautioned for hauling down Ogbene in full flow and Tom Eaves was brought into the fray to act as a new focal point for the Millers attack.
The move almost paid immediate dividends when Ogbene’s slide rule pass presented Wiles with the chance to shoot, but he frustratingly ballooned his effort into the stand behind the goal.
Minutes later, Bradshaw will be scratching his head about how he did not manage to trouble the scorers on the night when this time, Flemming’s mis-hit shot fell into his path, but his stretched effort, off-balance, shaved the far post with Johansson seemingly beaten.
With the game in the balance, Bradshaw turned provider with a popped pass which paved the way for Flemming to fire goalwards from the edge of the box but luckily for the hosts, his effort was straight down the throat of Johansson.
Home frustration boiled over when Eaves was yellow-carded for a mistimed lunge on Danny McNamara after he carelessly lost possession.
With a flurry of late substitutions, the game ended with a bit of a whimper as the Taylor-era began with a hard-working point for both sides, in a match featuring a lot of endeavour but a distinct lack of quality.
Full-time: Rotherham United 1 Millwall 1
Rotherham United 1
Teams: Rotherham- Johansson, Harding, Bramall (Peltier 76), Barlaser, Wood, Wiles, Norton-Cuffy (Lindsay 90), Ogbene, Washington (Eaves 58), Rathbone (Ferguson 76), Hall. Unused- Vickers, Kelly, Humphreys.
Millwall- Long, McNamara, Wallace, Hutchinson, Cooper, Mitchell, Bradshaw (Afobe 75), Flemming, Burey (Styles 85), Voglsammer (Bennett 75), Saville. Unused- Bialkowski, Evans, Shackleton, Honeyman.
Referee- D Whitestone
Attendance- 8618 (278)