Millers suffer away-day blues.....
Rotherham United failed to recover from a nightmare start at the MKM Stadium as Hull City ran out comfortable victors.
The Millers had an evening to forget on a freezing night as the hosts took advantage of some defensive frailties when Tyler Morton and Jaden Philogene netted early on.
It went from bad to worse for the visitors when Scott Twine added a third, soon after, before Philogene scored his second, and the Tigers’ fourth of the evening, just after the interval.
The Millers were second best all evening and it was scant consolation when Grant Hall notched his first goal in Rotherham colours.
Interim manager Wayne Carlisle made four changes to his starting line-up following their hard-fought draw with Leeds United last time out.
Hall made a welcome return to the first eleven following a spell out with injury while Dexter Lembikisa joined him in the defensive ranks after his international stint with Jamaica.
Carlisle also freshened up his attacking options with Jordan Hugill and Georgie Kelly – in his first league start of the campaign – leading the Rotherham line as a front pair.
The Millers suffered a blow prior to the kick-off when Fred Onyedinma – who was named to start – suffered an injury in the warm up and Sebastian Revan was promoted from the bench to take his place.
It was Revan, ironically, who had the first sight of goal when Sean Morrison launched a long throw into the box, and the Aston Villa loanee was presented with the chance to threaten the Tigers goal but he nodded wide of the target.
However, it proved a false dawn, as Rotherham suffered the worst possible start when Hull raced into a two-goal lead within just nine minutes.
The Millers were the victims of their own downfall when Hall under hit a back pass which left Viktor Johansson short, and Liam Delap sensed an opportunity to pounce and although Johansson almost came to the rescue, by smothering the home striker as he looked to round him, the ball ran invitingly for the on-rushing Morton, who had the simple task of tapping home into the unguarded net.
The Millers’ evening took another turn for the worst just minutes later, when a hopeful ball into the box, hit the back of Lembikisa, and Philogene – despite having his back to goal and seemingly being crowded out by several Rotherham defenders – executed a lovely back heel, and Johansson was helpless, as the ball found the corner of the visitors net.
The Millers temporarily stemmed the flow of the game when Christ Tiehi blazed over on the rebound, after his initial effort was blocked.
However, Hull continued to look threatening with every attack and the game was as good as over when they added a third goal after 20 minutes.
Alfie Jones planed a lovely ball over the top of the Millers rearguard and Delap raced away before pulling the ball back into the path of Morton, who let fly with a rasping drive from the edge of the box which stung the palms of Johansson, who did his best to keep the ball out, but unfortunately for the Swedish stopper, and the Millers, the ball looped tantalisingly back towards his own goal and Twine had the simplest of tasks to tap home from close range.
Both teams traded half-chances when Hugill blasted over before Jean Michael Seri did the same at the other end.
Just past the half-hour mark, Delap drilled a low effort from distance into the grateful hands of Johansson before Philogene’s low effort almost deflected into the path of a home runner at the back post, but Rotherham managed to scramble the ball clear.
The Tigers were oozing with confidence – and it was no more in evidence - when Jacob Greaves started a move from deep, and he continued his marauding run forward before being found by Twine, and the home centre-half kept his nerve to evade the desperate challenge of Hall to bare down on goal, but Johansson spared Rotherham’s blushes with a fine save at close quarters.
Half-time: Hull City 3 Rotherham United 0
Nevertheless, there was more woe to come for all those with a Rotherham United persuasion at the start of the second half when Hull added a fourth goal.
The Tigers worked the ball forward successfully and the Millers were at sixes and sevens again defensively as they failed to clear their lines when the chance come about and Twine looked odds-on to slot home, but Johansson did well to deny him. However, the relief was only temporary as Philogene was on-hand to fire home the rebound.
The Millers were no match for their rampant hosts but Ollie Rathbone forced Ryan Allsop into a fine save after stripping Jason Lokilo of possession before taking aim with a long range shot.
The visitors finally made their mark on the match as they got themselves on the scoresheet just before the hour mark when Rathbone and sub Arvin Appiah worked a short corner which caught the home side napping, and following a goalmouth scramble, Hall popped up to nod home.
Normal service was resumed when Philogene came close to his hat-trick before he was withdrawn while Twine’s deflected volley flew wide.
In a rare Millers attack, Kelly headed over from Rathbone’s free-kick before Carlisle made a triple substitution with former Tigers striker Tom Eaves returning to his own stomping ground.
There was little to report late on until sub Ozan Tufan shot wide following fine approach play from the hosts before sub Jamie Lindsay almost reduced the arrears further with a snap shot but Allsop parried the ball to safety.
Full-time: Hull City 4 Rotherham United 1
Hull City 4
Rotherham United 1
Teams: Hull- Allsop, Coyle, Greaves, Jones, Morton (Slater 83), Delap (Connolly 73), Lokilo, Philogene (Tufan 63), Seri (Traore 63), Twine, Christie (McLoughlin 73). Unused- Ingham, Docherty, Vaughan, Smith.
Rotherham- Johansson, Lembikisa, Bramall (Appiah 54), Hugill (Eaves 67), Kelly (Nombe 77), Revan, Rathbone, Hall (Peltier 67), Odoffin (Lindsay 67), Morrison, Tiehi. Unused- Phillips, Ayala, McGuckin.
Referee- R Welch.