Stoke City 2 Rotherham United 2
Vokes (27) Smith (58)
Clucas 29 Crooks (74)
Rotherham United’s fighting instinct kicked in yesterday when they came back from two down to get a point away against Stoke City.
The Millers had the better of the first twenty-five minutes with Will Vaulks long throws in and around the box leaving the City defence looking uncomfortable. The first real chance of the afternoon came on eight minutes when some twisting and turning from Anthony Forde down the wing saw him find Vaulks who back-heeled it to Joe Mattock but there was nobody in the area to get on the end of his cross. A minute later Forde got the better of his marker again putting in another cross which went just wide of the upright. A Clark Robertson pass sent Jon Taylor on his way down the other wing and after selling a dummy to Danny Batth put a lovely ball into the centre which went just past Michael Smith before the hosts were thankful to Jack Butland when a good cross from Richie Towell found Forde who saw the England ‘keeper get his fingertips to the shot to put it over the crossbar. A long throw from Vaulks was nodded on by Robertson for the lively Taylor who saw his shot go just past the post followed minutes later by a corner which found the head of Smith who put it over the crossbar. After all this pressure is was very much against run of play that City went in front although it was a superb delivery by Ashley Williams that found Sam Vokes who headed the ball into the bottom corner of the net to the delight of the, until then quiet, home fans. Two minutes later City stunned the Millers by going two-up after some good work from Bojan found James McClean whose shot into the centre was deflected to Sam Clucas who fired into the roof of the net for the hosts second. At the other end Butland did well to get down to smother an effort from Taylor while Millers’ ‘keeper Marak Rodak did well to put a shot from Vokes round the post with the resulting corner coming to nothing.
Stoke started the second half well and only some good defending from Joe Mattock stops them coming close to a third followed by a short corner from Sam Clucas to Bojan saw the striker get it back and cross in for Ryan Shawcross who headed wide under pressure. After some nice work from Anthony Forde, Clark Robertson thought he’d pulled a goal back only to see a fine save from Jack Butland followed minutes later by Jon Taylor getting on the end of a long ball which he fired towards goal with the Stoke defence managing clear. The Millers first substitution of the afternoon saw Matt Crooks replace Richie Towell. A minute later Rotherham halved the deficit when a Forde corner saw Michael Smith get above everyone else to head the ball into the net giving the travelling eight hundred Millers hope. Vaulks was the first player to see yellow after a poor challenge on Bojan who, after treatment was substituted by Benik Afobe who got the ball in front of goal a minute after coming on only to see Rodak fly off his line to claim. Ryan Williams and Joe Newell came on for the Millers for Jon Taylor and Anthony Forde. From a long throw the Millers got a corner which Newell played to Will Vaulks who gave it him back and getting past Joe Allen he sent the ball into the middle with Butland having to make another great fingertip save over the bar. At the other end Robertson had to be on his toes to get in the way of a cross from McClean meant for Afobe and clear. On the seventy-third minute the Millers were level when another Vaulks long throw caused problems in the Stoke box and found Semi Ajayi who headed down for the onrushing Crooks who in turn tapped it into the net sending the visiting supporters wild. After getting his first ever goal in a Rotherham shirt Crooks wanted more and when a Vaulks cross found him it took first one then a second defender to keep his shots out before a Newell corner was cleared but only as far as Crooks whose shot at goal beat Butland only for him to see Shawcross clear off the line. At the other end City appealed for a penalty with referee Andy Woolmer shaking his head. The Millers broke again and after Crooks had headed over it took another super save from Butland after a thunderbolt of a shot to tip the ball over again. The hosts made a double substitution fetching on Thibaud Verlinden and Charlie Adam for Sam Vokes and Bruno Martins Indi. Ryan Williams got the ball forward before being felled with the resulting kick from Newell going not only high but wide leaving the final score at two-all.
A very good start for the Millers then letting in two goals seemed to take the stuffing out of them a little. Stoke started the second half on the front foot but the Millers were excellent for most of that half and perhaps, though I admit to being a little biased, they deserved more than the one point all that effort got them.
Referee – Andy Woolmer
Attendance – 24,250 (821 Millers)