Rotherham United 0 West Bromwich Albion 4
Gayle (6,44,54), Barnes (20)
Rotherham United fell to their heaviest home defeat of the season this afternoon at the New York Stadium to a very well organised West Bromwich Albion side who looked destined to go straight back up to the Premier League.
The game was just a minute old when the visitors made their intentions clear when Matt Phillips tried a shot from the edge of the box which hit an off-side Jay Rodriguez on it’s way so when Joe Newell was caught napping and Dwight Gayle could only be stopped by Clark Robertson bringing him to ground it wasn’t much surprise when Gayle’s low free-kick went under the wall and nestled in the back of the net to give the Baggies a six minute lead. Some nice work on ten minutes from Newell ended with the Millers winning their first corner which was a short one eventually finding Ryan Manning whose shot smashed against the upright which then fell to Ajayi who saw his shot hacked off the line. On the quarter of an hour mark the Millers had another chance when Anthony Forde picked up a loose ball and again found Manning but this time his shot went wide. Five minutes later the Baggies went two up after Ajayi gave the ball away to Harvey Barnes whose pass found Rodriguez who hit the woodwork with Barnes in the right place at the right time to put the rebound into the net. At the other end a good cross in from Zak Vyner found the head of Michael Smith who was being pulled and pushed with Albion’s ‘keeper Sam Johnstone catching the ball. Manning saw another shot blocked followed by a shot which went well wide followed by Smith receiving a superb ball from Richie Towell only to fire wide of the post. The first card of the afternoon went to Gareth Barry for a poor challenge on Newell followed by another yellow for the visiting ‘keeper for time wasting while another one might have gone to Craig Dawson who could be in line for an Oscar after throwing himself to the ground claiming to have been fouled by Forde right in front of the linesman who did nothing with the same player taking his frustrations out of Newell a few minutes later and again nothing was done. The resulting free-kick found Ajayi who headed over. A foul on Matt Phillips by Joe Mattock saw the Millers player get a yellow with the resulting free-kick finding Gayle in space who slotted home to make it three-nil to Albion at the break.
A slow start to the second half with both teams losing the ball eventually ended on the fifty-third minute when Millers’ ‘keeper Marek Rodak tried to keep the ball in, spilled the ball and in came Dwight Gayle to get the visitors fourth and his third of the afternoon. The first substitution of the afternoon saw Gareth Barry making way for Chris Brunt. Just before the hour mark Zak Vyner got some joy down the right but saw his shot go well over the crossbar before some more good work from Anthony Forde saw him get the ball to Michael Smith who headed across goal only to see Sam Johnstone pull off a good save. A headed pass from Ryan Manning found Will Vaulks who let fly from just outside the box only to see the ball blocked which was followed by the Millers fetching on Ryan Williams for Joe Mattock. Williams was in the action straight away trying to set up Joe Newell but his cross was cleared before it could reach Smith before a Newell shot was put behind for a corner. Forde found the head of Smith with the set-piece who saw his header cleared off the line. Jon Taylor was brought on for Joe Newell for Rotherham. After having an appeal for an penalty turned down when it looked like Richie Towell had been bungled off the ball the hosts did get a penalty with fifteen minutes to go. Manning stepped up sending Johnstone the wrong way only to see his spot kick hit the upright and go to safety. Albion brought on James Morrison to replace Matt Phillips while Michael Smith made way for Jamie Proctor for the hosts and minutes later hat-trick hero Dwight Gayle went off with Hal Robson-Kanu taking his place. In the final stages of the game Kieran Gibbs saw a shot go across goal while Robson-Kanu headed wide.
This might not have been the Christmas present the Millers fans wanted with today’s defeat bringing to an end the Millers home form of not losing a game since the middle of August – but you have to say that Albion were the better side today.
Referee – Tony Harrington
Crowd – 10953 (2,597 Baggies making the journey)