Shrewsbury Town 1 Rotherham United 2
Pierce (66) Mattock (60), Smith (90+7)
An extremely late goal from substitute Michael Smith saw Rotherham United start their Christmas matches with a well deserved win away at Shrewsbury Town.
The Millers started the game the better and with only a couple of minutes gone a good ball in from Joe Mattock saw more good work between Carlton Morris and Freddie Ladapo with the latter seeing his shot from the edge of the box blocked. At the other end a free-kick for Shrewsbury came to nothing with the visitors going straight up the other end and Chiedozie Ogbene made Max O’Leary dash out of his goal to clear. Morris was busy in the opening ten minutes having a shot cleared for a corner and then with his back to goal he twisted only to see his shot come back off the post and go to safety. Some good work between Matt Crooks and Matthew Olosunde saw a Crooks header go just wide before the pair combined again to get the ball to Ladapo but the whistle went for an alleged foul by the Rotherham number ten. The Shrews were getting more into the game and Olosunde had to be on his toes to get to a ball in from Brad Walker before it reached Scott Goldbourne followed by Millers ‘keeper Daniel Iversen doing well to get down to smother the ball from a Josh Laurent cross before it found the lurking Goldbourne. Ogbene and Ladapo had to turn into a defensive pairing to keep the hosts at bay before Mattock did well to head away from a corner. With five minutes of the half left the Millers had a good chance when a Dan Barlaser free-kick found the head of Morris but the Norwich loanee headed agonisingly wide. Michael Ihiekwe did well at the other end to get in front of David Edwards to stop him shooting at goal and both Ihiekwe and Barlaser had to get defensive headers away before the end of the first forty-five minutes.
Rotherham could so well have been one up in the opening minutes of the second half after Carlton Morris won a corner which Dan Barlaser took finding the head of Matt Crooks who ended with that same head in his hands as it came back down and his low effort found the hands of Max O’Leary when it should have been in the back of the net. Crooks then got a ball at the far post from Morris but the ball went just behind Freddie Ladapo when he was on his own in front of goal. Ladapo had half a shout for a penalty but nothing was given before a poor challenge on Matthew Olosunde resulted in the first yellow of the afternoon for Shrewbury’s Shaun Whalley. The visitors were knocking on the door and the goal finally came on the hour mark after another good Barlaser corner saw Michael Ihiekwe jump highest and head across goal to the waiting Joe Mattock who headed in for his first goal of the campaign sending the travelling nine hundred and eighty fans wild. At the other end Adam Thompson did well to stop Dave Edwards getting a shot away but just six minutes after the Millers went in front the Shrews equalised. A free-kick from Whalley found Scott Goldbourne who in turn found Aaron Pierre who headed into the net. The hosts brought on Daniel Udoh to replace Fejiri Okenabirhie and minutes later Donald Love was booked for an off the ball incident on Olosunde. After a free-kick for the visitors came to nothing Shrewbury nearly scored at the other end when Edwards got the better of the Millers defence but headed wide, although the flag had gone up anyway before Daniel Iversen, who had had to be patched up by the Rotherham medical team earlier, did well to claim a header off Whalley. The hosts made a second substitution fetching on Ryan Giles for Dave Edwards. With ten minutes to go the travelling fans were shouting for the head of Love, already booked, who got hold of Ladapo and hauled him back but referee Edwards just spoke to the Shrewsbury midfielder. The resulting free-kick was easy for O’Leary with the Millers indebted to Iversen at the other end when he did well to push the ball round the post after an Olosunde slip had allowed Udoh in on goal. The first Millers sub of the afternoon brought Kyle Vassell on the pitch for Chiedozie Ogbene before the Shrews probably should have gone in front after a corner kick fell to an unmarked Omar Beckles who fluffed his lines and hit the fans behind the goal when it looked easier to hit the back of the net. Another poor foul on Olosunde saw Goldbourne booked after which Rotherham brought on Michael Smith for Carlton Morris and the hosts replaced Donald Love (probably before he got sent off) with Ro-Shaun Williams. Ladapo received a good ball in the box from Mattock but his shot went the wrong side of the upright before a shot from Smith hit a retreating defender and went out for a corner. In the sixth minute of time added on Richard Wood came off the bench for Joe Mattock which was followed by a chance for the visitors which saw Smith hit the side netting. But on the ninety-seventh minute a corner came out to Thompson who clipped the ball back into the box finding the head of the towering Smith who headed into the far corner with O’Leary only able to help it on his way when his hand touched the ball.
After last Saturday’s disappointing home game the Millers pulled out all the stops yesterday afternoon to get all three points sending just under a thousand travelling Rotherham fans home happy from a damp and dismal Shropshire.
Crowd – 7,555 (987 Millers fans)
Referee – Marc Edwards