Good Friday As Millers Get A Point
New York Stadium
14 April 2017 3.00pm
Attendance: 10,160 (2,576 Blues Fans).
A Danny Ward goal five minutes from time was enough to get a point and stop Rotherham United's ten successive run of defeats against Birmingham City at the New York Stadium this Good Friday afternoon.
It was a drab first forty-five minutes where nothing really happened until around the twelve minute mark when a shot from David Davis was blocked by Joe Mattock giving Birmingham the first corner of the game. From the corner Lukas Jutkiewicz climbed highest but put the ball not only wide but over the crossbar. The Millers first sight on goal saw Joe Newell float the ball into the area towards Ward and with the forward beaten in the air the ball fell to Will Vaulks who took a little too long over making his mind up and the chance to shoot was over. Just after the half-hour mark a headed pass to Carlton Morris from Newell saw the Norwich loanee have a shot from outside the box but it bothered no-one except the crowd behind the goal. The hard working Jon Taylor got a good ball into the box for Semi Ajayi but his header was wide before Morris had an attempt saved by Tomasz Kuszczak in the visitors goal. At the other end a dive from Jutkiewicz saw him yellow carded before Che Evans set up Craig Gardner for a shot which was saved by Millers' 'keeper Richard O'Donnell. Both teams had their booers when the referee blew for half-time.
The second half was livlier (though it couldn't have been much duller than the first) and after Joe Mattock was fouled by David Davis the resulting Jon Taylor free-kick went straight into Tomasz Kuszczak's waiting arms. A foul on Danny Ward saw a yellow card go to Krystian Bielik and with the inswinger from Taylor headed away it eventually found Will Vaulks who brought off a super save from Kuszczak. Kerim Frei replaced Paul Robinson for the visitors and minutes later Mattock was booked for a foul on the sub. On the hour mark the Millers really should have gone in front when a brilliant cross was whipped in by Taylor finding Carlton Morris who just had to tap it in but took too long giving Ryan Shotton the chance to block. Jerry Yates replaced Darnell Fisher whose first touch of the game saw him send Taylor free who sent the ball over towards Ward but the Millers top scorer didn't quite get to the ball. It was getting better from the Millers and the eight thousand or so home fans were finally getting something to clap and sing about when Yates found Morris in the box but he couldn't get a shot away. At the other end Che Adams had a shot which Richard O'Donnell did well to put behind with the resulting corner coming to nothing. Craig Gardner went down very easily under a Vaulks challenge, who was booked, with the free-kick being well blocked by Richie Smallwood. Smallwood himself then tugged at the shirt of Frei to give the Blues another free-kick in the same position but once again the wall did it's work. A minute later in the exact spot again the visitors got another free-kick and again it was blocked before a fourth free-kick was awarded by the referee when Richard Wood dare breathe over Adams who went down like a ton of bricks. Lining it up Frei swerved the ball over the wall and into the top corner of the net sending the travelling two and a half thousand fans wild. After a bit of argy bargy where the ref picked things up off the pitch and looked at them before throwing them back down Frei saw yellow for running into the crowd when he scored (eight other players who ran with him weren't booked). But the Millers didn't give up and after Jonson Clarke-Harris replaced Morris and Birmingham brought on Maikel Kieftenbeld for Craig Gardner a Vaulks long throw into the box found Wood free but he couldn't keep his header down. Clarke-Harris was fouled in the corner getting a free-kick and although it was a good ball in from Taylor it was just a shade high for Semi Ajayi. With five minutes to go Ward was first to a loose ball and cutting in from the left he curled a low shot into the bottom corner of the net to give the hosts a deserved equaliser. As the board went up for an extra five minutes Jacques Maghoma replaced Robert Tesche for the visitors. Joe Mattock ran through a host of players and tried his luck from distance but was denied by Kuszczak before the visitors got a free-kick which was headed away by Clarke-Harris. But deep into injury time Jerry Yates should have won it for the Millers when Smallwood put in a superb ball for the young striker who had plenty of time to score at the back post but he blazed over leaving the Rotherham fans and players with their heads in their hands.
As the Millers players were applauded off by their fans the Blues fans were shouting for the head of Manager Gianfranco Zola.
Could have - should have - been three points but the way this season has gone I think all us Millers fans will be pleased to have got something from this game.