Millers left empty-handed......
Leicester City maintained their 100 percent record in the Sky Bet Championship this season, but they were pushed all the way by a resolute Rotherham side, who were arguably worthy of a share of the spoils.
Kasey McAteer’s brace turned the game in the visitors’ favour after Fred Onyedinma – on his return to the side – had equalised their first half opener.
Matt Taylor’s side – not for the first time this season – will take great heart from their battling display against the former Premier League side, but they had little to show for it after McAteer’s heroics for the high-flying Foxes.
Following their narrow reversal at the hands of Sunderland last time out, Taylor made just one solitary change to his starting line-up with Onyedinma returning to the fold following his sending off against Blackburn.
Hakeem Odoffin was unavailable after picking up a strain at the Stadium of Light while new signing Arvin Appiah was named on the bench just 24 hours after putting pen to paper on a season long loan deal.
The Millers settled into the AESSEAL New York Stadium clash the better and Cohen Bramall skipped down the touchline before his cross was headed clear before Tyler Blackett showed a clever piece of skill to snuff out the danger at the other end.
Christ Tiehi – on his home debut – was adjusting perfectly to his new surroundings with some assured touches on halfway.
Nevertheless, there was a moment of controversy as early as the tenth minute when Rotherham had a goal chalked off.
The home side forced a corner and Cafu – with his usual pinpoint delivery – planted a lovely centre to the near post, and Cameron Humphreys emerged from the ruck of the bodies in the box, appearing to glance the ball towards goal – and with Jordan Hugill possibly getting the final touch from close range, the ball found the Leicester net.
Hugill and his teammates wheeled away in delight but any celebrations were cut short when the referee consulted with his assistant referee, and following deliberations, a free-kick was awarded to the visitors.
The crowd appeared at odds to why the goal was ruled out but salt was rubbed into Rotherham wounds just minutes later when Leicester opened the scoring, arguably, against the run of play.
Kelechi Iheanacho produced a smart turn and clipped cross which was inch-perfect for the on-rushing McAteer, who nodded home from close range.
The visitors were buoyed by the breakthrough and Stephy Mavididi had a shot blocked at close quarters before McAteer fired a low, skimming drive which whistled past the far post.
Both sides traded chances when Cafu headed over from Dexter Lembikisa’s cross before Mavididi fired into the grateful hands of Viktor Johansson.
The Millers came close to the equaliser when Rathbone and Cafu executed a lovely one-two and the home skipper burst into the box before brushing off the challenge of Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall to clip an effort which Mads Hermansen, who forced to acrobatically palm to safety under pressure from Rotherham runners.
The home crowd were off their seats again when Rathbone whipped in a cross which Onyedinma seemed to get a nick of in front of Jannik Vestergaard before tumbling under his challenge in the box, but the referee waved away home appeals for a spot kick.
Wilfred Ndidi blazed over for the Foxes before Andre Green did the same at the other end following some good approach play from the hosts.
Johansson – who was lining up against his former employers – then had to be at his best to keep out a stinging drive from Ricardo Pereira.
In the last act of the first half, Leicester had an opportunity to double their lead when Dewsbury-Hall strode away purposely before giving Mavididi – a sight of goal – but the in-form striker fluffed his lines with a tame effort which Johansson was grateful to gather with ease.
Half-time: Rotherham United 0 Leicester City 1
The Millers – now attacking the KCM Waste Management Stand – set the pace at the start of the half by forcing a trio of corners –, all delivered by Cafu - with Andre Green heading wide the last one.
However, Leicester failed to heed the warning when Rotherham levelled matters eight minutes into the second 45.
Green showed fleet of foot near the touchline to leave his marker in his wake before clipping a lovely centre which was over Hugill, but Onyedinma – behind him – managed to glance the ball towards the Foxes goal – and with Hermansen in no position to intervene, the ball found the net via the inside of the post.
The AESSEAL New York Stadium was now at fever pitch and the decibel level was upped further when Rathbone and Onyedinma combined superbly and Hugill shot goalwards but Hermansen stood up tall to block his powerful shot, although the offside flag had already been raised.
The game was in the balance and Dewsbury-Hall dangerously fired over from distance, although his effort took a slight deflection, before Ndidi’s header cleared the crossbar from the resultant corner from Dewsbury-Hall.
The Millers were more than a match for their visitors but Hugill failed to trouble the target with a header from Bramall’s centre before Onyedinma threatened the Foxes goal with a floated centre following excellent work by Lembikisa.
With just under 20 minutes to go, Taylor reshuffled his forward options with Appiah and Tom Eaves introduced at the expense of Hugill and Green.
However, it was Leicester, who threatened next when Ndidi fired a low effort but Johansson was his equal with a fine save.
The Millers fans had their hearts in their mouths when Dewsbury-Hall got a yard on Humphreys to drill a centre which sub Jamie Vardy looked set to turn home, but Blackett produced a superb, goal saving block to preserve parity.
However, this proved to be a false dawn, when Leicester regained the lead – in what proved to be the decisive goal - with six minutes remaining to go.
A long cross field pass from Callum Doyle switched the play and McAteer – a danger all afternoon – got the ball under his spell before cutting inside Bramall and he unleashed a lovely left-footed effort from the edge of the box which arrowed into the far corner of the home net – although Johansson may have got a hand to it en-route to goal.
The Millers had a chance to equalise for a second time – just seconds later – but Eaves made a hash of an unmarked header just yards out.
Cautions were then the order of the day when Rathbone and Humphreys were shown yellow-cards for the hosts and Mavididi and Hermansen, in turn, for the visitors.
Enzo Maresca’s side showed good game management to withstand eight minutes of stoppage time without incident – and the home side were left empty-handed despite another encouraging display.
Full-time: Rotherham United 1 Leicester City 2
Rotherham United 1
Leicester City 2
Teams: Rotherham- Johansson, Lembikisa, Bramall, Blackett, Cafu, Hugill (Eaves 72), Green (Appiah 72), Onyedinma, Rathbone (McGuckin 88), Humphreys, Tiehi (Kayode 81). Unused- Phillips, McCart, Bola, Morrison, McGuckin, Douglas.
Leicester- Hermansen, Faes, Doyle, Winks, Mavididi, Iheanacho (Vardy 59), Pereira, Dewsbury-Hall (Choudhury 88), Vestergaard, Ndidi (Casadei 67), McAteer (Justin 88). Unused- Ward, Stolarczyk, Albrighton, Castagne, Thomas.
Referee- S Hooper
Attendance- 11418 (2226)