New Years Day Point For Battling Millers
New York Stadium
1 January 2018 3.00pm
Attendance: 9,347 (1,821 Rovers)
Rotherham United's first game of 2018 ended in a one-all draw against a Blackburn Rovers side who are hoping for a quick return to the Championship.
The visitors were out of the blocks the quicker and skipper for the day Richard Wood had to be aware to get his head to a cross in from Derrick Williams before following it up with getting the ball away from Bradley Dack. At the other end Charlie Mulgrew hooked a good ball in from Anthony Forde away before it could reach David Ball. Semi Ajayi stood firm after Craig Conway had got past Wood and was soon up the other end to try and add to his goal tally only for Rovers' 'keeper David Raya to get above him to punch away and a minute later a Forde corner found Ajayi but Raya got down to it. On ten minutes the ball came out to Will Vaulks on the edge of the area and with the home fans shouting for his to shoot he obliged and brought off a fingertip save from Raya. A good challenge at the other end from Josh Emmanuel saw him get the ball off Dack before Ajayi did well to stop a shot from Conway going towards goal. Marek Rodak came into his own on twenty-five minutes when he firstly stopped a shot from Dack which went back out to the Rovers' midfielder who was again denied by Rodak before the ball fell to Derrick Williams who brought off a double save from the home shot-stopper before Joe Mattock did well to stop a shot on the line from Elliott Bennett. Emmanuel again did well to geet a ball into the area for Ball who couldn't get his head to it. Rodak again did well to get to a shot from Derrick Williams and get it away to safety. A lovely cross from Mattock to Richie Towell ended with Ball curling a shot in which went just past the post before a poor back-pass from former Miller Richie Smallwood to Mulgrew was almost jumped on by Yates before Mulgrew quickly got it away. At the other end a good header from Mattock stopped Bennett's header going in with Rodak doing well to dash out and get to the resulting corner before the lively Dack.
Rotherham seem to sit back a bit more in the second half and in the opening minutes Semi Ajayi had to head away a good shot from Elliott Bennett before the corner came in to Danny Graham who put his header over the crossbar. Bennett and Paul Caddis saw shots go wide before an unmarked Paul Downing should have done better than head way wide of the upright. Just before the hour mark the Millers made a double substitution which saw Ryan Williams and Jerry Yates replaced by Joe Newell and Jonson Clarke-Harris who both combined well only for the Millers striker to have the ball stolen from under him in the area. Rovers made their own double substitutions with Dominic Samuel and Ryan Nyambe come on for Craig Conway and Paul Caddis. And it was just a minute later that the visitors went ahead. Richie Smallwood found Bradley Dack who carried on his run and put the ball past the advancing Marrek Rodak to make it one-nil to Rovers. But the Millers did well and a Newell cross found Clarke-Harris who sent Anthony Forde on his way but Rovers managed to get the ball away from him and clear. A couple of good corners from Forde weren't acted on before a superb stop from Semi Ajayi on the edge of the area at the other end stopped Derrick Williams in his tracks. After taking a bit of a battering and bruising Clarke-Harris went down under a rash challenge from Charlie Mulgrew who was the first player to see yellow. Michael Ihiekwe came on for Richard Wood with Blackburn putting on Elliott Ward who replaced Danny Graham. The Millers were fighting and Ball saw a shot saved by David Raya followed by a Joe Mattock shot which flew off Newell to safety. With Ajayi being pushed up front which confused the visiting defence, (and some of the Millers in the crowd) he made himself a nuisance of himself from a Forde corner which found the head of Will Vaulks and eventually Ball who hit the ball into the roof off the net to make it one-one in the final minute of the game. As the board went up for five extra minutes the Millers fans appealed for a penalty when Newell went down and another seconds later when Ball went down but both were denied before Clarke-Harris got through the visiting defence but Raya grabbed the ball followed by a shot from Towell which went inches over the upright.
A battling performance by the Millers with a draw being a fair result this afternoon. Both teams adding to a thrilling New Years Day game and definitely a good one for any neutrals in the ground.