Ten-men Millers suffer narrow defeat....
Rotherham United failed to shrug off the setback of an early dismissal despite a back-to-the-wall display as sub Jerry Yates came back to haunt his former club with the decisive winner for Swansea City.
The former Academy player pounced on a rare Lee Peltier error to score the winner with 17 minutes to go after Sam Nombe’s second goal in Millers colours cancelled out Charlie Patino’s opener on the stroke of half time.
The Millers, who gave a good account of themselves in the early exchanges, had a mountain to climb when Daniel Ayala was sent off for two bookable offences, and although Nombe gave them a sniff of a share of the spoils, Yates broke their hearts with the winning goal on his old stomping ground.
Interim manager Wayne Carlisle kept faith with the Millers starting line-up that earned a creditable point at Birmingham City last time out.
Hakeem Odoffin was asked to play in a makeshift centre-half role once again alongside Ayala.
Nombe spearheaded the Rotherham attack with the likes of Arvin Appiah and Cohen Bramall – in a more forward role - expected to provide the ammunition from the flanks.
The Millers were quick out of the blocks and they penned the visitors’ deep from the kick off but the early pressure was released when Jamie Lindsay’s cross swung out of play.
Minutes later, Peltier and Lindsay combined to great effect down the right flank and the former flashed a centre which Josh Key did well to divert to safety at the far post under pressure from a home runner.
The home side had started with a positive intent and Peltier’s throw was nodded on by Nombe and Christ Tiehi fired a snap shot which stung the palms of Rushworth.
Moments later, Appiah wastefully blasted over from a free kick before Rotherham’ early momentum was halted as they were reduced to ten men when Ayala saw red after receiving two cautions in the space of minutes.
The Spanish defender – who had performed well at St Andrew’s Stadium – firstly incurred the wrath of the referee for preventing a quick Swans’ throw-in, by planting the ball on the pitch, and being adjudged to have slowed the game down.
Ayala then found himself in hot water, five minutes later, when Charlie Patino got the better of a duel, before being clipped by the home defender, to lose his footing before getting back to his feet but to the amazement of the home fans’, the referee stopped the play and decided to brandish a second yellow card to Ayala instead of giving him a final warning.
Carlisle was forced into a tactical reshuffle by switching to 4-4-1 immediately with Peltier moved centrally and Bramall and Revan now occupying the wide positions, defensively.
The Millers adjusted reasonably well to the setback but Swansea had the first efforts at goal when Key blasted over before an unmarked Yannick Bolasie headed over from a promising position.
The Swans came close to the opener just shy of the half-hour when Bramall’s attempted clearance was charged down by Jamal Lowe, who latched onto the loose ball to fire a rasping effort which forced Johansson into a superb acrobatic save to deny him.
Minutes later, Lowe emerged from a cul-de-sac to threaten again but his dipping effort was deflected over before Rotherham had a let-off when Harry Darling rose highest to meet Jay Fulton’s corner but fortunately for the hosts, his point-blank header was straight down the throat of Johansson.
The home fans were off their seats when Lowe kicked the ball away and initially appeared to escape sanction, before the referee belatedly decided to show a yellow-card.
The Millers were aiming to reach half-time without conceding and Darling – much like he did successfully in MK Dons colours, a few seasons ago – tried a rasping, long range effort from distance but Johansson stood up tall to snuff out the danger.
The Swedish international stopper showed his class, once again, when Key flashed a centre which looked inch-perfect for Lowe, who headed goalwards, but Johansson pulled off a top-drawer save, against all odds, to keep him at bay before Patino blasted wide on the follow-up.
However, Millers’ resistance was finally broken when Key delivered another right-sided centre and the home side were unfortunate when the ball struck skipper Ollie Rathbone firstly, and then Patino, in avertedly, and Johansson was helpless, this time, as the ball dribbled into the far corner of the net.
There were some home protests that the ball struck the arm of Patino en-route to goal, but the referee waved these away and the goal was given.
Half-time: Rotherham United 0 Swansea City 1
Both sides were now attacking their own set of supporters, and the Millers – facing a numerical disadvantage on multiple fronts – were indebted to Johansson – not for the first time this season – when he parried another Darling piledriver over his own bar, before Jamie Paterson nodded wide from the resultant corner.
The home side were still primarily intent on containment while looking for moments of inspiration and it almost came when Nombe got the better of a tussle with Ben Cabango near the touchline before trying his luck from distance, but his rising effort cleared the visitors’ crossbar.
Nombe – despite having many Swans defenders around him at any one time - was proving a handful - and he made something out of nothing when he volleyed over the bar from a tight angle.
Just before the hour mark, Fulton fired straight into the grateful hands of Johansson before the home fans and players were strongly appealing for a spot kick when Bramall’s cross hit Cabango at close quarters, but the referee took no further action.
Nevertheless, Rotherham continued to probe and they were duly rewarded with the equaliser on 64 minutes.
Sub Sean Morrison took aim with a long bullet throw into the box, and with Odoffin flicking the ball on, the Millers continued to usher the ball towards the Swans goal before Nombe got the telling touch from just yards out to level matters.
The Millers fans were now in full voice and with the decibel level raised at the AESSEAL New York Stadium, Odoffin had a shot blocked before Rathbone’s resultant corner was cleared.
However, it proved a false dawn, as Swansea regained the initiative, by taking the lead with 17 minutes remaining.
There looked little danger when an innocuous ball was planted forward but Peltier, uncharacteristically, failed to take charge by going with his weaker foot on the edge of the box – and the ball agonisingly looped into the path of Yates, who kept his nerve to calmly slide the ball past the advancing Johansson.
Home frustration boiled over when Rathbone was deservedly cautioned for a rash challenge on Key before Odoffin joined him in the book for dissent.
Despite a frustrating afternoon, Rotherham were still very much in the contest and they threatened late on when Morrison’s long throw was met by sub Grant Hall, but the ball looped harmlessly wide of the target.
In stoppage time, Rotherham came close to levelling for a second time when Sebastian Revan burst clear before firing goalwards but Cabango – with the possible use of a hand – blocked his shot before Rushworth tipped over Tiehi’s looping header from the resultant set-piece.
Full-time: Rotherham United 1 Swansea City 2
Rotherham United 1
Swansea City 2
Teams: Rotherham- Johansson, Bramall, Ayala, Lindsay (Hall 77), Rathbone (Kelly 85), Peltier (Eaves 90), Odoffin, Tiehi, Revan, Nombe (Hugill 77), Appiah (Morrison 46). Unused- Phillips, Lembikisa, McGuckin.
Swansea- Rushworth, Key, Fulton, Cabango, Darling, Grimes, Lowe, Paterson (Cullen 90), Tymon (Humphreys 90), Bolasie (Yates 58), Patino (Walsh 67). Unused- Fisher, Naughton, Cooper, Parker, Congreve.
Referee- J Smith
Attendance- 9414 (495)