Rotherham United 2 Nottingham Forest 1
Smith 10 Grabban 28
Rotherham United battled to three points this afternoon at the New York Stadium against a Nottingham Forest eleven who are hoping to be in a play-off position come the end of the season.
The Millers needed to strike early and with minutes gone on the clock they thought they should have had a penalty when a long throw from Will Vaulks fell to Richie Towell whose shot towards goal appeared to be fielded away from goal by the arm of Forest skipper Ben Watson but referee Steve Martin shook his head. The hosts had a scare on five minutes when, with his back to goal, Yohan Benalouane saw his hopeful shot bounce off the upright then roll across the face of goal out of danger. After a foul on Towell by Saidy Janko the resulting Joe Newell free-kick for the just failed to find Michael Smith. But a minute later Smith sent the Millers fans into raptures after another Vaulks long throw found Michael Ihiekwe who in turn nodded it down for the Millers forward who put the ball into the far corner to give the home side the lead. The next minute saw Smith hold off a defender and get the ball to Jon Taylor who won a throw-in which again Forest couldn’t deal with as Vaulks got it into the box but Ihiekwe’s header didn’t worry Forest ‘keeper Costel Pantilimon. At the other end Billy Jones had to be alert to stop a shot from Watson doing anything before former Miller Lewis Grabban had a shot with the upright again coming to the aid of the Millers. Smith was in the thick of the action minutes later when he flicked a ball onto Taylor whose volley flew inches past the upright. Forest had a couple of forays up field and twice Billy Jones was caught napping with the third time seeing Daryl Murphy play in Grabban who saw his first effort kept out by Marek Rodak before he tapped the ball over the line to make it one-one. At the other end Joe Newell sent in a good corner which nobody could get on the end of followed by a free-kick taken by Towell, who was on the end of a Murphy challenge, which went short to Vaulks and Forest easily dealt with. Janko did well to get away from his marker but Taylor ran him down and won a foul in the process before Rodak was in the right place at the right time to collect a volley from Joe Lolley. The Millers went straight down the other end and won a free-kick after Janko hauled down Newell, getting the first yellow of the game. Vaulks’ kick bounced off the Forest wall to Towell who put it into the area and Pantilimon had to be alert get down and save. A good knock down from Smith found Jones who flew up the pitch but had nobody up with him to pass to and his cross was easily saved by Pantilimon. With a minute of time added on the Millers won another throw which Vaulks tried to take having to manhandle both Forest Manager Martin O’Neill and his assistant Roy Keane out of the way to take but Ihiekwe headed wide.
The Millers started the second half with Clark Robertson on for Joe Mattock. The first action of the half saw a shot from Will Vaulks blocked before the Welsh International long throw a minute later was missed by Costel Pantilimon but also by anyone in a red shirt. Eight minutes in and a cross from Matthew Cash found Lewis Grabban and with it looking like he’d get his second of the game up stepped Marek Rodak who did superbly to get down low to stop the ball going into the net. At the other end a one-two between Joe Newell and Vaulks flew towards Semi Ajayi in the area but he saw his header go wide of the post when it looked easier to score. On the hour mark the hosts had another chance made by Jon Taylor whose cross-cum-shot was tipped over the bar by a back-peddling Pantilimon. Newell took the resulting corner which was met by Smith who in turn found Ihiekwe who headed in from close range bringing the eight thousand three hundred home fans off their seats celebrating. It might have been more two minutes later when Forest were found wanting as Smith and Vaulks combine to find Newell but his touch let him down. Billy Jones went down and after being treated tried to carry on but a few minutes later was replaced by Ben Wiles while the visitors brought on Pele for Ben Watson. After Smith was bundled over – not for the first time during the game – Rotherham got a free-kick with which Newell found the head of Ajayi but Pantilimon jumped higher to claim. Ben Osborn and Saidy Janko made way for Joao Carvalho and Arvin Appiah and minutes later Ryan Williams came on for the Millers in place of Jon Taylor. Rotherham came close to a third after a game of pinball in the area saw Pantilimon bring off a great save from Newell and although Smith put the rebound in the linesman had already raised his flag. With the game coming towards a close the Millers fans held their breath when an effort from Matthew Cash was just out of reach of the waiting Appiah on the back post who would have had an empty goal to shoot at. Michael Smith, almost single-handedly kept the ball in the right end of the pitch for the Millers by keeping the ball with the only way to get it off him was for the Forest players to foul him. When the whistle went the Millers centre-forward looked absolutely shattered.
Three points at home. I know we were all keeping an eye on the scores of the other teams around us but, in truth, you can only rely on yourselves to get points from games – and it was three well earned points this afternoon for Rotherham United.