Sunderland 1 Rotherham United 1
McNulty (1) Hastie (66)
Rotherham United fought back to get a point at the Stadium of Light on Tuesday evening despite going a goal down in the opening minute and conceding a penalty just before the half-hour mark.
Sunderland came out of the starting blocks quickly winning a free-kick in the opening seconds when Alim Ozturk went down under a challenge from Freddie Ladapo before picking himself up and launching the ball yards up the pitch to Marc McNulty who, with the visiting defence stood watching, rounded Millers’ ‘keeper Daniel Iversen and calmly slotted the ball into the net. At the other end Ladapo tried his luck from distance but it was an easy catch for Black Cats ‘keeper Jon McLaughlin before another chance for the hosts saw Luke O’Nien put the ball well over into the Sunderland fans behind the goal. On the seventeen minute McNulty found Aiden McGeady with a lovely ball whose shot curved towards the top of the goal only stopped by some superb acrobatic work by Iversen. Minutes later Ben Wiles came off the better with a challenge for the ball with Denver Hume but with a promising move on the horizon the lad from Rawmarsh slid and slipped losing the ball when he looked like he was well away before a good Rotherham move saw the ball bounce in the box and hit the arm of O’Nien with the whole of the top tier of the away end rising as one asking for a spot-kick but referee Ben Toner shook his head. Which was very annoying as the hosts went straight down the other end and when Lynden Gooch went down under a challenge from Clark Robertson Mr Toner pointed to the spot. Up stepped McGeady with Iversen diving to the left and keeping the ball out of the net, the Millers fans letting him know what they thought of his heroics from the other side of the stadium. A foul on Jake Hastie (not for the first time) by George Dobson (again, not for the first time) saw the Sunderland midfielder get the first yellow of the game. Carlton Morris went over in the box and again the travelling fans called for Mr Toner to give a penalty which, again, he denied – to be fair I feel it would have been harsh and this was followed by some good work from the visitors when a cross into the box from Hastie saw Ladapo climb above everyone to head towards goal but McLaughlin was there to save. Hastie then got himself into the box taking the ball round the ”keeper but was forced wide by the Sunderland defence before the Millers forward was felled by Conor McLaughlin who became the second player to get a card. A good corner by Hastie was headed into the box by Robertson to the head of Matt Crooks who couldn’t keep the ball down and headed over. With half-time approaching a mistimed clearance from Iversen fell to McGeady who flew forward and left fly only to see his shot go wide of the post.
The second half started quietly until a Jake Hastie shot on fifty-two minutes saw the Sunderland defence in a tangle with them just able to put the ball out for a corner which Ben Wiles took only for it to be headed clear by Alim Ozturk. On the hour mark the first change of the night saw the hosts bring on Charlie Wyke for goalscorer Marc McNulty. A minute later Wiles tried his luck from distance with the ball being deflected into the path of Hastie who hits a low ball fetching off a good save from Jon McLaughlin. The Millers were having a lot of the ball and on sixty-six minutes some good work from Freddie Ladapo saw him get the better of Jordan Willis and pass the ball to Hastie who shrugged off the challenge from Conor McLaughlin to fire into the roof of the net giving the Millers the equaliser and sending the travelling thousand fans into raptures. And it was Hastie again minutes later who jinked past his marker and bent the ball inches wide of the upright. Former Miller Chris Maguire was brought off the bench for Conor McLaughlin. Daniel Iversen brought off another brilliant save this time from Wyke before the ball fell to Aiden McGeady who missed when it looked easier to score with the midfielder getting a yellow card minutes later for dissent. Some good work from Ladapo saw him send the ball to Hastie who in turns tried to get it back to Ladapo but the ball was put to safety by a retreating defender followed by the Millers first substitution seeing Michael Smith come on for Carlton Morris which was followed by the third substitution for the hosts with Lynden Gooch making room for Will Grigg while the visitors then brought on Shaun MacDonald for Hastie who got a standing ovation from the Millers following. With six minutes of time added on going up Dan Barlaser came on for Rothterham for Freddie Ladapo and he was immediately into the action sending a ball towards Matt Crooks but the midfielder couldn’t get his header on target.
What a great game from the Millers on Tuesday night. A lot of us there were fearing the worst when the Black Cats scored in the opening minute but the penalty save from Daniel Iversen spurred the Millers on and, though I may be biased, I do feel we were the better side on the night.
We, who were there, thought their goal was a couple of yards offside – we also thought the penalty was a little harsh and that we might have had a couple of pens of our own – the one for handball early in the game and then one where Hastie was flying down the wing with only the ‘keeper to beat and had to jump out of the way of a Sunderland player who made a lunge for him just inside the area.
The Referee Ben Toner wasn’t just bad he was awful. Some of his decision particularly in the first half were appalling. A thousand of us watched as red and white stripped players went down time after time and were awarded free-kicks when, in reality, the Rotherham player had got the better of him. Offsides were just non-existent in the first half and the linesman didn’t seem to wake up until after their half-time break. Millers fans will know how bad he was when there were those asking if Trevor Kettle could take his place!
Attendance – 29,078 with 1,004 of those being all-singing, all-shouting Millers