All Square At Half-Time
10 May 2014 5.15pm
Attendance: 17,221 (1,881 Millers)
Rotherham United would probably have taken a one-all draw before this evenings game against Preston at Deepdale but it could have been so much more going into the second leg next Thursday night.
The home side started lively and had a penalty appeal turned down in the opening minutes when they thought former Preston player Craig Morgan had manhandled Joe Garner in the area although from the Millers view point it looked very much like Garner had handled the ball before he fell. Anyway Referee Iain Williamson didn't give it and play continued with Millers' striker Alex Revell receiving a good ball from James Tavernier only to see his header go straight at home 'keeper Declan Rudd and with an offside flag going up wouldn't have counted anyway. The game didn't really get going until the twentieth minute when Joe Skarz did well to get to the ball and clear before Garner had time to shoot towards goal and a minute later a Ben Pringle pass down the left found Revell who nodded the ball past a Preston defender and then shot the ball under Rudd and into the back of the net to put the visitors into the lead. Minutes later only a good block from Bailey Wright stopped a James Tavernier shot from distance going towards goal while, at the other end, a weak shot from Garner didn't bother Adam Collin in the Millers net. The Millers had a series of corners with Preston getting in blocks while Craig Morgan saw a header go just wide and a right-footed shot by Tavernier was blocked.
Just four minutes of the second half had passed when the hosts equalised and what an equaliser it was. A Tom Clarke pass found Joe Garner who took the ball on his chest, got round Kari Arnason and his looping shot from distance left Adam Collin with no chance. A couple of minutes later Alex Revell received a cross from Joe Skarz but the striker put his header just over the bar while a superb ball from Wes Thomas a few minutes later to Lee Frecklington saw the midfielder put the ball just a bit too much in front of himself giving Declan Rudd time to come out and collect but in the process collided with Frecklington who needed treatment before carrying on. On the hour mark a lovely pass from Ben Pringle found James Tavernier but his shot was blocked before a number of Rotherham corners came to nothing. Another corner saw Michael O'Connor, who had come on for Richard Brindly in the first half, take a corner which found the head of Joe Garner and the frontman breathed a sigh of relief when he saw his header skim the top of the net and go out. Five minutes later the travelling one thousand eight hundred Millers fans thought they'd gone back into the lead when Wes Thomas' lovely through ball found Robert Milsom but the central-midfielder saw his shot go just wide. At the other end Kevin Davies, on for Craig Davies, fell down at the feet of the Millers' Claude Davis in the penalty area but got what he deserved - nothing and at the other end a Kari Arnason cross found Thomas but he couldn't keep his header down while Arnason himself tried a shot from outside the area which was well saved by Rudd. Craig Morgan did well to get a Paul Gallagher cross away to safety with a header from Garner not troubling anyone but the home fans behind the goal. In the five minutes of time added on at the end of the game Rudd was forced into an acrobatic save when a ball from Arnason found Haris Vuckic, on for Thomas, and the Slovenian strikers header was brilliantly tipped over by the Preston shot-stopper.