GILLINGHAM 0 ROTHERHAM 1
A mild but breezy Priestfield saw the Millers all but clinch a place in the play-offs this evening with the only goal of the game coming in the first half from Will Vaulks.
In the opening two minutes the hosts had a shot at goal which went straight into the waiting arms of Millers’ ‘keeper Marek Rodak followed by a Luke O’Neill free-kick who could only find the head of Millers skipper Richard Wood. Straight down the other end the ball found Ryan Williams who got the better of Gills’ ‘keeper Tomas Holy with his shot getting deflected out for a corner which came to nothing. At the other end Michael Ihiekwe had to be alert to turn an O’Neill free-kick behind for a corner which the Millers central defender put behind for another corner which didn’t bother anyone. The Millers thought they had gone ahead on seven minutes after Michael Smith had caused problems in the box with Williams shot coming back out to Jon Taylor who found the back of the net but referee Dean Whitestone deemed a foul had been committed and it was ruled out. Conor Wilkinson put the ball over the crossbar before Gabriel Zakuan could only find the side netting with a header before Williams put a shot well wide at the other end. Both sides had a shout for a penalty with a ball in from Taylor looking like it hit the hand of a Gills player before Callum Reilly went down with Mr Whitestone shaking his head. On twenty minutes the visitors went in front when some good work from Josh Emmanuel found Smith who held the ball up for Will Vaulks who in turn smashed the ball into the net past a static Holy which was followed by his tell-tale backflip. Gabriel Zakuan didn’t recover from an earlier injury and was replaced by Ben Nugent four minutes later. A minute later Gillingham had a goal disallowed after some poor defending when Josh Parker was ruled off-side after heading the ball into the net. The tireless Taylor sent a superb ball in for Smith who was beaten to it by a home defender before the Millers winger was involved at the other end getting in the way of a shot from Reilly and getting hurt in the process. Lovely football from Taylor saw him deliver a super cross in but a defender got to it first and hastily put it out of the danger area. Emmanuel stole the ball and skipped by his marker to find Taylor who came so close to finding Smith before the ball went out to safety. As the board went up for three extra minutes both Wood and Richie Towell defended well after a bobbling ball went into the area. The last action of the first half saw the first yellow card of the game going to Smith of Rotherham after he was adjudged to have fouled both Gillingham central defenders.
The first chance of the second half fell to the Millers after a Jon Taylor free-kick was aimed towards Michael Ihiekwe with the hosts defended well. Gillingham made an early sub bringing on former Millers loanee Tom Eaves replacing Conor Ogilvie. A super cross in from Taylor was blocked by Max Ehmer before some great work from Richard Wood was palmed away by Tomas Holy followed by the Taylor corner again finding Wood whose header was held by the Gills’ ‘keeper. Josh Emmanuel won a free-kick off Eaves with Scott Wagstaff hacking Taylor’s set-piece away to safety. On the hour mark a Jake Hessenthaler cross was put out for a corner which eventually found Wagstaff but only found the head of a Millers defender. Some lovely work from Will Vaulks saw his find Taylor but the referee blew saying the winger controlled the ball with his hand. Richie Towell was the second Millers player to see yellow after a late tackle on Callum Reilly. A ball in for Wagstaff was a good one but Marek Rodak in the visitors goal punched out well. Rotherham brought on Semi Ajayi for Towell. On sixty-seven minutes the Millers should have gone two in front after a great ball from Vaulks found Ryan Williams but the Australian dragged his shot wide when he probably should have scored. Minutes later Holy was undecided from a backpass and put himself in all sorts of problems with Williams getting the ball but the ‘keeper went down and Mr Whitestone said it was a foul by the Millers winger. And it was Williams again with a chance after some nice work from Smith and Taylor who headed just wide. The Gills supporters thought they should have had a penalty with twenty minutes to go after Eaves went down but the referee said no. Straight up the other end the Millers had another good chance when another super cross from Taylor found Smith who volleyed wide. That was the Millers’ wingers last action of the game as he was replaced by Anthony Forde. After an O’Neill ball in is headed back to Reilly he gets his feet mixed up and Matty Palmer is clear but O’Neill did well to tackle well. The Millers last sub saw Caolan Lavery on for Michael Smith. Will Vaulks was the next to get a yellow for a foul on Eaves. With two minutes to go Michael Ihiekwe did well to twice head balls away in the area before Ajayi was said to have backed in, when it probably should have gone the other way and gave away a free-kick just twenty yards out. O’Neill took the set-piece which troubled nobody. As the board went up for an extra four minutes the hosts got their first shot on goal after a corner eventually fell to Hessenthaler but it didn’t beat Rodak who saved well. The one hundred and sixty visitors screamed for a penalty after Lavery got behind the home defence and went down after Ben Nugent came towards him but nothing was given. As the clock ticked onto the last seconds of the game Rodak first punched then fell on the ball to stop a final Gills threat.
A great result for the Millers tonight – but it really should have been more than one-nil. As I’ve been saying for at least a year, we really have to learn to take our chances. But it’s another step nearer the play-offs for Rotherham United and another clean sheet.
My Millers Man of the Match has to go to JON TAYLOR