Millers fall to home defeat.....
Leam Richardson’s reign at the Rotherham United helm started on a losing note as West Bromwich Albion ran out victors at a foggy AESSEAL New York Stadium.
The Millers Head Coach saw plenty of hard work and endeavour from his side but it counted for nothing in the end as second half goals from Grady Diangana and sub Jed Wallace settled a low-key affair in Albion’s favour.
Richardson made three changes to the home starting line-up from their weekend defeat at the hands of Swansea City.
Experienced defender Sean Morrison took on the skipper’s armband at the heart of the Rotherham rearguard, at the expense of Daniel Ayala, who saw red against the Swans.
Jamaican international Dexter Lembikisa was also handed a recall with Lee Peltier rested while Jordan Hugill lined up against his former club with Sam Nombe – who has impressed in recent games – named among the substitutes.
There were a couple of familiar faces on the Baggies bench with former fans favourite Semi Ajayi and one-time loanee John Swift returning to their old stomping ground.
The visitors made the early running when Alex Mowatt’s short corner was flicked on into the path of Darnell Furlong, who fired harmlessly wide of the target.
The Millers broke out for the first time when Cohen Bramall showed Furlong a clean pair of heels with a turn of pace and the Baggies defender could only halt his progress illegally – with the first yellow card issued.
Minutes later, Christ Tiehi got the better of Jayson Molumby on halfway to stride forward with purpose but Bramall’s cross was blocked by Furlong at close quarters.
Richardson was barking orders from the touchline while scribbling away on a notepad. The Millers Head Coach also took every chance to have a one-on-one chat to his players during stoppages in play.
The home players were responding in kind and Ollie Rathbone’s free-kick was met by the head of Hugill but his header was straight down the throat of Alex Palmer.
The Rotherham faithful were full of appreciation when Rathbone and then Bramall put in whole-hearted challenges while Morrison led from the front with a barnstorming header to clear the danger.
There was little to report until Furlong dragged a long-range shot harmlessly wide of the home goal before Palmer was forced to punch clear under pressure from Hugill following Morrison’s long throw.
With half-time approaching, Seb Revan picked up the ball from deep before embarking on a direct run, bypassing a number of Albion defenders in the process, before firing over from a tight angle.
Half-time: Rotherham United 0 West Bromwich Albion 0
The start of the second half followed a similar pattern to the first 45 with a low-key opening but Albion – now attacking their travelling contingent – had the first sight of goal when Jeremy Sarmiento started and finished a move, but his volleyed effort failed to trouble the home goal.
The Millers failed to heed the warning though as West Brom took the lead in their next attack of note.
Molumby found himself in space on the right flank to deliver a cross to the far post which Lembikisa could only divert into the path of Diangana, who fired goalwards from the edge of the box and the Millers were unfortunate, as his effort took a nick off a Rotherham defender and Viktor Johansson was wrongfooted with the ball finding the heart of the home goal.
The Millers responded positively to the setback and Hugill had a glimpse of goal but he was crowded out before he could get his shot away while Appiah fired over from distance.
Richardson reshuffled his pack with 20 minutes to go with Grant Hall and Nombe introduced into the fray. Odoffin was pushed into midfield and one of his first tasks was to block Okay Yokuslu’s shot while Nombe had a cross cut out.
The Millers were still very much in the contest and they had a half-chance when Rathbone delivered a tantalising free-kick into the box which Nombe attempted to direct goalwards, but his header flashed wide.
However, Albion sealed the deal with just seconds remaining of regulation time when Odoffin was penalised for bringing down Mowatt on the edge of the box.
Wallace exacted retribution from the resultant free-kick when his powerful free-kick flew into the Rotherham net via the underside of the bar giving Johansson no chance.
Full-time- Rotherham United 0 West Bromwich Albion 2
Rotherham United 0
West Bromwich Albion 2
Teams: Rotherham- Johansson, Lembikisa, Bramall, Hugill (Kelly 84), Lindsay (Hall 70), Rathbone (Eaves 90), Odoffin, Morrison, Tiehi, Revan, Appiah (Nombe 70). Unused- Phillips, Peltier, Nombe, McGuckin.
West Brom- Palmer, Furlong (Ajayi 90), Townsend, Kipre, Bartley, Molumby (Wallace 66), Diangana (Fellows 66), Sarmiento (Pipa 79), Thomas-Asante, Mowatt, Yokuslu (Chalobah 90). Unused- Griffiths, Pieters, Swift, Reach.
Referee- S Barrott
Attendance- 9567 (1237)