South Yorkshire Bragging Rights Go To The Millers
New York Stadium
24 February 2018 3.00pm
Attendance: 11,725 (2,624 Rovers fans)
Rotherham United's fighting spirit did them well this afternoon after they came from one down in the first half to win the South Yorkshire derby with Doncaster Rovers two-one - but boy, did they leave it late!
Joe Mattock was back in the starting line-up for the Millers with Michael Ihiekwe, who had replaced him last week, nowhere to be seen. Rovers also made one change with Ben Whiteman replacing the injured Luke McCullough.
It was a scrappy start to the game and although Rovers' Manager Darren Ferguson had had a bit of a pop at the Millers getting balls into the box from long throws his side did exactly that courtesy of Craig Alcock who also stole yards (not inches of feet) when throwing in. At the other end Joe Newell had an early chance but Andy Boyle was on hand to block and get the ball back downfield. The first real chance of the game came on eight minutes when a cross in from Richie Towell found the head of Semi Ajayi but he put the ball just wide. Five minutes later Marek Rodak was called into the action when a deep cross in from James Coppinger found Tom Anderson buy the Millers' 'keeper got down well to save the header. Anthony Forde, David Ball and Mattock all had shots but none bothered Rovers' 'keeper Marko Marosi. A good corner from Niall Mason caused the Millers problems in the box but John Marquis didn't get a clean shot and it went out for a goal kick before a super cross in from Forde at the other end was headed away before it reached Ball as far as Mattock and with nine thousand Millers on their feet expecting to be celebrating a goal the visiting defenders did well to block and get it away to safety. The first yellow of the game went to Coppinger for a terrible foul on Will Vaulks. On thirty-nine minutes Rovers went ahead after Semi Ajayi dithered with the ball and Kiwomya won it off him sending Marquis away who blasted home from just outside the box. But the Millers didn't learn and only some good defending from Richard Wood and Mattock stopped Alfie Beetsin getting balls into the box.
The second half was only three minutes old when Tom Anderson and 'keeper Marko Marosi collided stopping the Millers getting into the box and after lengthy treatment Anderson was stretchered off with what looked like a nasty head injury, Joe Wright coming on in his place. Not for the first time in the game Referee Geoff Eltringham infuriated the home fans by giving a free-kick/goal-kick something or other to Doncaster when it should clearly have been a throw-up between the sides. After David Ball won the ball off Andy Boyle, Anthony Forde won a corner which Joe Newell took finding Will Vaulks who headed just over. At the other end Richie Towell did well to block an effort from Tommy Rowe. The Millers might have equalised just after the hour mark when a long throw from Vaulks found its way to Newell but he didn't hit it right and it flew over the crossbar followed by a corner which found the head of Mattock at the near post who put it just wide. At the other end John Marquis was looking for his second but Mattock gets his head to the ball first. Marosi did well to smother a header from Richard Wood before some great defending from Wright kept out a certain goal from Towell. On the seventy-eighth minute Alfie Beetsin was stretchered off after fouling Wood with Matty Blair coming on in his place while the Millers first substitution saw Ryan Williams on for Anthony Forde followed by Caolan Lavery replacing David Ball. Williams had a shot at goal which was easily saved by Marosi and Blair saw a shot go wide at the other end. As the board went up for twelve extra minutes Richard Wood was replaced by Matty Palmer and a minute later Jordan Houghton replaced James Coppinger for the visitors. With three minutes of the twelve gone the Millers drew level. A foul on Williams by Niall Mason earned the hosts a free-kick which Newell took getting it into the box for Michael Smith to head home sending the Millers behind the goal wild. Rowe might have put Rovers back in front but saw his shot go wide before a chance came for Newell who didn't connect cleanly with the ball and sent it wide. Mattock was the next to try his luck and saw his shot go wide before sub Palmer had a superb chance but blazed over with the linesman's flag saving his blushes. With it looking like it would end in one-all like it had earlier in the season at the Keepmoat the Millers had one more chance when Smith went down under a challenge from Marosi. The referee pointed to the penalty spot and up stepped Newell sending the 'keeper the wrong way to give the Millers all three points, bragging rights and a very happy nine thousand fans.
If we're being honest the Millers didn't play that well this afternoon. A lot of dithering, Rovers had more possession and we never seemed to get the ball on the floor. But, at the end of the day, the Millers did come good, didn't lie down and are now undefeated in fourteen of which the last seven have been wins. We can't ask more than that.