Defeat on the road for the Millers…
A brace from Mileta Rajovic and second half strikes from Edo Kayembe, Tom Ince and Matheus Martins saw Rotherham United slip to a 5-0 defeat to Watford at Vicarage Road on Saturday afternoon.
The lively Ken Sema twice turned provider in the first half, setting up both of Rajovic’s goals from close-range, before the lead was added to in the second half by Kayemeb, who netted his first goal for the club.
The hosts added further gloss to the scoreline with four minutes remaining of normal time, when Ryan Andrews picked out the run of Tom Ince, who converted before Matheus Martins made it 5-0 in added time.
The Millers travelled to Vicarage Road looking for their first league win on their travels in 2023/24 – and a year and three days since they were last successful away from AESSEAL New York Stadium at Sheffield United.
Matt Taylor’s men were right to head into the clash in Hertfordshire buoyed by recent home draws against Queens Park Rangers and Ipswich Town but also able to call upon a solid 1-1 draw at the same venue against the Hornets on their last visit.
Keen to keep his pack fresh at the end of a three-game week, the Millers boss made four changes to the side that kicked off the home draw with high-flying Ipswich Town in midweek, whilst tweaking the outlook tactically, shifting his side into a 3-5-2 formation.
Jordan Hugill was deployed alongside Sam Nombe – who netted his first Millers goal on Tuesday night – while club captain Sean Morrison returned at the heart of the defence with Lee Peltier joining him in three-man rearguard with Cohen Bramall completing the defensive ranks.
With Bramall’s shift vacating the left wing back berth, Aston Villa loanee Seb Revan was named in the starting XI, while Cafu, Daniel Ayala, Hakeem Odoffin and Fred Onyedima were all named among the substitutes.
The first chance of note fell Rotherham’s way after six minutes, when Nombe showed fantastic willing and pace to chase down a long kick upfield from Johansson and latch onto it ahead of Porteous, before seeing his cross for Hugill just evade his strike partner.
The hosts were ahead four minutes later, when a low Sema cross from the left was turned home from close-range by Rajovic.
Watford continued to probe and with 19 minutes on the clock, Kayembe took the ball out of midfield before attempting to thread the ball through for the advancing Asprilla, but he was tracked and subsequently halted by a sliding challenge from Revan.
Kayembe was pulling the strings for the hosts and picked Clucas’ pocket before laying the ball off for Sema. The attacker cut inside before curling an effort towards goal, which was beaten away by Johansson with 24 minutes on the clock.
Rotherham were pushing to try and force an equaliser, but the hosts carried a threat on the break through Aspirlla and it was he who received possession on the counter from a Morrison long throw. The attacker worked it out to Hoedt who carried the ball forward before electing to shoot from 30 yards, but it was a comfortable stop for Johansson.
The Millers – who have been plagued by injury misfortune all season – suffered a blow on the half hour mark, when Sam Clucas went down unchallenged and appeared to be clutching his hamstring.
His replacement Cafu almost made an instant impact for his team when he was presented a free kick opportunity following a foul on Hugill. The Portuguese midfielder’s effort was hit with power and swerved in the air forcing Hamer to punch clear. The ball eventually broke for Tiehi to strike, but he could only lash over under pressure from Hoedt.
With a minute of normal time to go before the break, Cafu picked out Tiehi who set his sights from 25 yards. The Frenchman had been tracked by Livermore and looked to bend his effort around his marker, seeing his curler just wide of Hamer’s right post.
The Millers found themselves further behind four minutes into first half stoppage time, when Sema and Rajovic again combined to devastating effect. Sema was once more the architect following an incisive cross towards the forward, who fired his effort into the roof of the net from close-range to make it 2-0.
HALF TIME: WATFOD 2 V 0 ROTHERHAM UNITED
The Millers came out in the second half looking to force their way back into the game and had a golden opportunity to do that when Rathbone collected a loose pass in the centre of the park before surging forward and firing just wide of the target from distance.
The home side went further ahead 10 minutes into the second half when Kayembe received Hoedt’s pass inside the box, before firing home emphatically past Johansson to make it three.
Matt Taylor’s men were presented with an opportunity on 57 minutes when Ayala emerged from a crowd of bodies to meet Cafu’s corner, seeing his header saved by Hamer. The host broke swiftly and found Asprilla in space, with the attacker unable to work Johansson from the edge of the box.
Nombe looked to create an opening for the Millers with 17 minutes left when he create room for a strike, but couldn’t keep his effort on target. Moments later, the strike again caused problems when he looked to pick out the advancing Kelly, but the pass was intercepted by Hoedt.
Rotherham refused to throw in the towel and Hamer was forced into action with 81 minutes on the clock when Cafu dug out a cross from the right, which needed to be clawed away by the keeper to prevent it from dropping into the net. Bramall tried his luck from the follow-up, but saw his effort deflected wide of the target.
The resulting corner was sent in by Bramall and met by Ayala, but he couldn’t convert from a tight angle after heading towards goal, despite Kelly’s best effort to keep the ball in play, it had already gone out.
The Millers were forced to play the final stages of the game with just 10 players on the field when substitute Cafu was forced off the pitch with a knock and the hosts made their one man advantage count.
The home side further added to their lead with four minutes remaining, when Andrews’ cross found it’s way to Ince inside the area and the forward was able to finish clinically to make it 4-0. And five minutes into stoppage time it was 5-0, when Martins fired home from the edge of the box.
FULL TIME: WATFORD 5 V 0 ROTHERHAM UNITED
Watford | Hamer, Hoedt ©, Porteous, Lewis (Ince 67’), Livermore (Chakvetazde 67’), Rajovic (Healey 84’), Kone (Dele-Bashiru 88’), Sema, Asprilla (Martins 67’), Kayembe, Andrews.
Unused | Roberts, Louza, Pollock, Bayo.
Rotherham United | Johansson; Peltier (Odoffin 70'), Morrison © (Ayala 51'), Bramall; Lembikisa, Tiehi, Rathbone, Clucas (Cafu 33'), Revan (Onyedinma 51'); Hugill (Kelly 70'), Nombe.
Unused | Phillips, Eaves, Lindsay, Appiah.
Referee | S. Martin