Accrington Stanley 1 Rotherham United 0
Rotherham United’s twenty-one game unbeaten run came to an end at the Wham Stadium in a damp squib of a game that the Millers never really got a hold off.
In the opening minute of the game the visitors might have gone in front when Ollie Rathbone was first to a ball in midfield and sent Freddie Ladapo on his way with the striker seeing his shot saved by Stanley ‘keeper Toby Savin. Shane Ferguson and Dan Barlaser both took free-kicks that came to nothing before a header from Ross Sykes in the other box found Sean McConville whose shot was blocked but before the Millers could go up the other end the ball fell to Colby Bishop with Millers’ ‘keeper Viktor Johansson coming out bravely to save ending up on the deck with the Rotherham physio’s treating him. On ten minutes some nice work from Ferguson saw him send the ball up for Ladapo to head the ball being saved before rebounding back to the Rotherham striker but he couldn’t make anything of it. Minutes later a run from Chieo Ogbene saw him find Michael Smith who turned but saw his attempt blocked before a Barlaser corner was punched away by Savin. At the other end a cross from Tommy Leigh found Colby Bishop who sent the ball to Jovan Malcolm but the West Brom loanee could only find the side netting. A linesman’s flag soon stopped the home fans celebrations after Bishop put the ball into the back of the net on twenty minutes and from the resulting free-kick Ogbene headed the ball into the path of Wes Harding who twisted and turned before sending it to Rathbone who had a shot that went wide. On the half-hour mark only an excellent save from Johansson stopped the hosts taking the lead through Ethan Hamilton before Ben Wiles set off on a run only to be pulled back by Liam Coyle who was the first player of the afternoon to go into referee Andrew Kitchen’s book. Michael Smith got on the end of a Ferguson header in the box only to see his shot hacked off the line by Ross Sykes then Mr Kitchen evened the bookings up when he showed Smith a yellow for stopping Yeboah Amankwah making a run. As the board went up for time added on Ladapo headed straight into the waiting arms of Savin followed by Johansson getting down well to save from Hamilton at the other end.
It was a slow start for the second half with the first chance coming seven minutes in when Tommy Leigh found himself in room just outside the area but shot into the side netting. Wes Harding did well to get past his marker and send a cross-come-shot into the area which Toby Savin dropped before collecting at the second attempt with Michael Smith breathing down his neck. The first change of the afternoon came from the hosts with Matt Butcher replacing Liam Coyle. On the hour mark Viktor Johansson was called into action after a good move by Accrington saw Butcher skip by the Rotherham defence and shoot with the Swede diving across to save. Minutes later Dan Barlaser was on hand to stop a cross from the substitute causing any problems. The visitors made their first change of the afternoon on sixty-five minutes when Mickel Miller replaced Shane Ferguson. Butcher was causing problems since coming off the bench and it was him again who brought off another save from Johansson before Chieo Ogbene and Barlaser worked well together the former winning a corner which Barlaser took seeing Savin jump highest to gather. The Millers brought on Jamie Lindsay, Ollie Rathbone making way. A bit of pinball in the area saw the ball come out to Michael Ihiekwe who sent it across the goal with first Smith then Ogbene failing to turn home although the linesman had his flag up so it wouldn’t have counted. The last throw of the dice on seventy-four minutes saw Freddie Ladapo make way for Will Grigg. A minute later a Leigh ball into the box caused all sorts of problems amongst the Millers defence with McConville pouncing sending an acrobatic scissor kick from some six yards out and with the visiting defenders stood watching the ball went into the net. The Millers had a good chance in the last ten minutes after a long goal-kick found Grigg whose shot from inside the box was scrambled away. The hosts made a change Harry Pell coming on for Tommy Leigh. With two minutes to go Richard Wood made sure the scoreline didn’t increase when he headed a Stanley free-kick over the crossbar. The Millers had a couple of corners in time added on before Ogbene set Wiles on his way who saw his shot blocked with a late free-kick coming to nothing.
I think we all knew that our unbeaten run had to come to an end at some time and, to be honest, I think we’ve been lucky in the last two or three games. Twenty-one without loss is still a great achievement and let’s hope we can start another run off on Wednesday when Lincoln City are in town.
Attendance – 4,870
Referee – Andrew Kitchen
Accrington Stanley 1 Rotherham United 0
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