ROTHERHAM UNITED 2 BRISTOL ROVERS 0
Rotherham United cemented their place in the League One Play-Offs on this sunny afternoon with a two-nil home victory against Bristol Rovers.
It was the visitors who were on the front foot at the start of the first half with Michael Ihiekwe having to get a foot in to stop Tom Nichols getting on the end of a ball with the following corner being headed away by skipper Richard Wood. A challenge on Ollie Clarke by Will Vaulks saw the first free-kick of the afternoon go to Rovers which saw Ihiekwe again there to head away. So it was a bit of a surprise when the Millers broke away on nine minutes when Michael Smith stole the ball off a dithering James Clarke and went forward to the edge of the area curling a fantastic ball into the back of the net giving Sam Slocombe in the Rovers’ net little chance. Minutes later a cross from Joe Newell found Jon Taylor who in turn found Matty Palmer who gave the ball to Vaulks who saw his shot deflected with the ball ending up on the top of the net. From the resulting corner the ball went to Palmer who again found Vaulks who put his shot just over the crossbar. With twenty minutes gone Kyle Bennett might have done better after a lovely ball from Byron Moore but he messed up and his shot went over not bothering anyone. Taylor did well to get the better of Bennett and found Smith with his cross who in turn sent the ball to Richie Towell who found himself in room but he dragged his shot wide. Millers’ ‘keeper Marek Rodak got down well to a shot from Nichols before some good work by the visitors saw Bennett turn to shoot but Ihiekwe was there with his body on the line to block. At the other end Smith found Newell whose shot hit the side netting before Rodak did well to pluck a header from Ellis Harrison out of the air.
The hosts had a good chance in the opening minute of the second half when the tireless Jon Taylor crossed for Michael Smith who then found Richie Towell who puts his shot over the crossbar. Joe Newell did well to get by his marker and kept going into the box before going down under a challenge from two Rovers defenders with referee Andy Haines shaking his head for the asked spot-kick. At the other end Ollie Clarke put a shot from distance well over before Byron Moore’s shot saw Marek Rodak fall on the ball and hold on. Towell made way for Caolan Lavery and minutes later Jon Taylor was replaced by Ryan Williams. Michael Ihiekwe was on hand again to stop Kyle Bennett getting a shot away before Harrison shot well wide. Rovers made a double substitution bringing on Bernard Mensah and Dominic Telford to replace Byron Moore and Tom Nichols with Telford nearly making an impact when he put a header just over the crossbar. At the other end Williams brought off a save from Sam Slocombe. Matty Palmer had to have treatment for a head injury on the pitch before being taken off and Semi Ajayi taking his place. The first yellow of the game went to Rovers’ Ellis Harrison for what was about his fourth smash into Richard Wood’s face which was his last action of the game with Rovers replacing him with Rory Gaffney. With six minutes to go Rodak kept the Millers lead when he did well to keep a shot from Bennett out with his feet before Ihiekwe did just as well to stop M\arc Bola from getting a shot away a minute later. As the scoreboard showed seven minutes of time added on the Millers made it two after a super cross from Newell found Lavery in the box who turned the ball into the net and help earn his team a place in the play-offs.
Well done Paul Warne for guiding the Millers into the play-offs.
Some players looked a bit weary out there this afternoon and looked thankful when the referee finally put the whistle to his lips to blow for full-time. They’ve had a busy week, two away games and then a home game in hot weather but they’ve done the town proud.
Well done Rotherham United – Up The Millers.
My Millers Man Of The Match – Michael Smith, Jon Taylor and Richie Towell all did well for me this afternoon but my Man of the Match has to be MICHAEL IHIEKWE who helped Rotherham keep a third clean sheet in a row.