Date: 13th February 2018 at 11:05pm
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Rotherham United stretched their unbeaten run to twelve this evening after beating Oxford United at the New York Stadium, a win that saw them move into fourth place in League One.

The Millers started quickly under the floodlights and when a long throw from Will Vaulks reached Richie Towell just outside the box the only thing on his mind was to shoot but saw the ball blocked and sent out to safety. From the resulting corner the ball eventually found the head of Semi Ajayi only for former Millers forward Wes Thomas to head clear off the line. Vaulks himself saw a shot deflected for a corner before another header from Ajayi was again cleared. So, it wasn’t much of a surprise when the hosts took the lead on seven minutes after David Ball send a superb ball to Anthony Forde and the Millers number seven’s thunderous shot was too good for U’s ‘keeper Simon Eastwood as it flew past him and into the net. At the other end a bit of dithering between Ajayi and Richard Wood saw Thomas get clear but Ajayi did well to get back and block. Around the quarter of an hour mark Michael Smith thought he’d scored when he got inbetween two Oxford defenders to get his head to a perfect pass from Forde only to see Eastwood pull off a fantastic save, tipping the ball onto the post and luckily seeing it go to safety. But just before the half-hour mark the Millers did double their lead after a ball from Joe Mattock found Joe Newell who brought off a good save from Eastwood but Richie Towell was on hand to slip the ball over the line. Five minutes later Millers’ ‘keeper Marek Rodak had to make his first save of the game after a good flick on from Joe Rothwell found Isaac Buckley-Ricketts, on loan from Manchester City, who got the better of his marker but couldn’t get the better of Rodak who commanded his area, his outstretched leg sending the ball behind for a corner which came to nothing. With seven minutes of the half left the Millers were forced into a substitution when Mattock limped off being replaced by Michael Ihiekwe. And it was while the Millers were still sorting themselves out that Rothwell fed James Henry who fired a lovely shot into the roof of the net giving the three hundred and sixty U’s fans something to cheer about. In time added on Rodak made a good save to deny Henry, and Oxford, a second the Millers went straight down the other end with Newell whose cross into the box found David Ball who rounded the ‘keeper but suddenly went to ground – yes, he could have slipped but I’ve got a sneaky suspicion he might have had a helping hand – or rather leg. Two-one to Rotherham at half-time.

Oxford came out the better for the second half and Marek Rodak had to be on his mettle to
get down to a shot from Josh Ruffels before a shot from Isaac Buckley-Ricketts had to be dealt with by Will Vaulks. But on the fifty-second minute some superb play by Anthony Forde saw him ease by Ashley Smith-Brown, wrong-foot Simon Eastwood and send a low cross into Michael Smith who made it three-one from close range. At the other end Semi Ajayi was on hand to stop a shot from James Henry before Eastwood did well minutes later to stop a shot from David Ball. The U’s made a substitution taking off former Miller Wes Thomas for Agon Mehmeti followed a few minutes later by Malachi Napa replacing Isaac Buckley-Ricketts. With less than twenty minutes left Paul Warne send on Caolan Lavery for David Ball and he almost made an immediate impact after a one-two with Smith saw his shot go inches past. Joe Rothwell made way for Ricardinho for the U’s and moments later Henry saw a shot go inches over the crossbar. A slight injury to Joe Newell saw Jon Taylor come on with ten minutes to go. As the game was nearing an end Ryan Ledson tried his luck from some thirty-five yards out only to see Rodak tip the ball over. In time added on Smith got by his marker only to find another Oxford defender there to get the ball from him before he had time to shoot.

Another great show from the Millers of how not to give up – running to the end of legs that looked ready to give in and sending most of the seven thousand, seven hundred fans home happy.

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