REPORT | Rotherham 0 v 3 Shrewsbury – News
Millers take a hit…..
Rotherham United’s automatic Sky Bet League One promotion hopes have suffered a setback as they suffered a rare defeat at the hands of Shrewsbury Town.
The two sides played each other in Shropshire just a few weeks ago and Shrewsbury again proved a significant obstacle as a few wild minutes in the first half ended Rotherham’s chances.
The Millers had a strong presence in the AESSEAL New York Stadium contest until Angus MacDonald saw red, just after Daniel Udoh put Salop ahead.
Rotherham gave as well as they did in the second half, but Elliott Bennett and Ryan Bowman extinguished any hopes of an unlikely comeback, with a second and a third.
Miller boss Paul Warne has made four changes to the starting line-up at home, following their narrow victory over Lincoln City in midweek.
There was a fresh look at the home backline as MacDonald and Rarmani Edmonds-Green returned to the starting XI with Michael Ihiekwe taking the captaincy, in the absence of Richard Wood, who was appointed on the bench.
Shane Ferguson and Jordi Osei-Tutu have also refreshed midfield options. Youngster Joshua Kayode retained his spot as a striker alongside top scorer Michael Smith.
The Millers came out of the blocks quickly and Kayode had a deflected shot behind by Ethan Ebanks-Landell in the opening seconds, after good work from Ben Wiles and Osei-Tutu in the build-up.
Osei-Tutu was looking for a threat in the early stages and the Arsenal loanee forced a corner which Ferguson planted under the visitor’s crossbar but a Salop defender brushed aside the danger.
Consecutive long throws from George Nurse took their toll on the Rotherham backline, but Josh Vela’s effort eased the pressure on the hosts.
Minutes later, Ollie Rathbone flew in narrowly after collecting the pieces of Smith’s knockdown before Ferguson’s free-kick eluded several Rotherham runners.
The two teams traded chances when Osei-Tutu’s reduced effort was deflected by Nurse before Udoh’s left-footed shot was deflected at the other end.
The visitors were visibly gaining in confidence and Rotherham had a big scare when a hopeful punt in the box was only half erased by Vickers with a weak punch and Bowman latched onto the ball loose to fly towards goal, but Ihiekwe was superbly placed to hack clear of his own lineage.
Minutes later, Nurse swept past Osei-Tutu with ease before firing an inviting cross that Matthew Pennington nodded towards goal but, luckily for the Millers, his effort was straight into Vickers’ throat.
Just before the half-hour mark Udoh became the first to see yellow for returning the ball, before Shrewsbury pressed again when Bennett leaped down the right flank to deliver a deep cross which was met by a header from Luke Leahy, but under pressure from a home defender, he couldn’t guide his effort on target, as he flew close to the target.
New York’s AESSEAL Stadium faithful weren’t seated when Kayode fell into the box after a leg entanglement with Ebanks-Landell, but no further action was taken until the Under-21 international from the Republic of Ireland does not end up in the book, following a big aerial duel with Pennington.
The Millers’ hopes of entering the March international break heartily were dealt a blow, in an eventful two minutes, which saw Shrewsbury take the lead before the Millers were reduced to ten men.
First, Salop was rewarded for his pressure spell when Kayode was tipped off the ball midway, and Nurse pushed forward determinedly down a home back line, before timing his pass to perfection, and Udoh kept his composure to drive the ball past Vickers and into the Rotherham goal with a neat finish.
The Millers had no time to collect their thoughts, before the game took another cruel twist of fate, when MacDonald was involved in a dogfight with Leahy near the halfway line, and with the Shrewsbury defender left in a heap on the ground, the referee ruled that the Rotherham centre-half had led with his elbow, and a red card was shown for violent conduct.
Millers’ headers were still in a spin as Pennington almost capitalized on a rush after Bennett’s corner, but his close-range shot was blocked en route to goal, before Tyrese Fornah’s precise effort accidentally diverted from the target by a ricochet.
In the final action of half, Nurse started from an inviting position before Warne was grateful for the chance to lead his side back into the locker room for a chance to reorganize after the double setback .
Half: Rotherham United 0 Shrewsbury Town 1
The Miller boss made a double change at the break with Wood brought in for much-needed defensive reinforcements while Chiedozie Ogbene was given the task of getting the home side up on the pitch, despite being shorthanded.
In a fairly uneventful opening quarter, Rotherham had stabilized the ship, and Ogbene showed his attacking prowess, prompting Nurse into a hasty challenge on the edge of the box.
Ferguson planted the resulting free-kick in the box, but Shrewsbury was rock solid before Wood headed in Osei-Tutu’s ball percentage.
On the hour mark, Shrewsbury nearly killed the game, with the Millers indebted to Vickers for a double save.
The Rotherham keeper made a parried save from Bowman before coming off his line to deny Vela from close range, on the rebound.
Shrewsbury stuck to their game plan, to slow play at every opportunity, and that frustrated Millers fans until a selfish escape from Ferguson and then Wiles brought the crowd to life.
The loyal Millers were basically their 11and man, with excellent voice support, and home players responded in kind.
Bennett was carded for a lunge over Rathbone, and Ogbene had a half chance on the resulting free kick, but his low drive was blocked.
However, Rotherham’s hopes of returning to the game were over when Shrewsbury doubled their lead with 12 minutes left.
The visitors took advantage of their numerical superiority on the counterattack, led by Udoh and with Wood unable to intervene on the edge of the box, Leahy had the chance to strike and he forced Vickers into a reflex save, but Bennett was on -hand to tap home the rebound into the unguarded net.
The Millers were understandably flat and Leahy forced Vickers into another shot before Pennington fired wide.
Warne’s side didn’t throw in the towel and sub Mickel Miller blocked a shot before Smith’s shot and header were denied by Marko Marosi.
Steve Cotterill’s side rubbed salt into home injuries in stoppage time when Bowman took advantage of a poor home defender to fire home a third.
After the defeat, Rotherham saw their lead at the top reduced to one point behind nearest challenges Wigan Athletic and four points behind third-placed Milton Keynes Dons.
Full time: Rotherham United 0 Shrewsbury Town 3
Rotherham United 0
Town of Shrewsbury 3
Teams: Rotherham-Vickers, Barlaser (Ogbene 46), Osei-Tutu (Miller 69), Wiles, Ferguson, Rathbone, Kayode (Wood 46), Ihiekwe, MacDonald, Edmonds-Green, Smith. Unused – Johansson, Harding, Lindsay, Odoffin.
Shrewsbury-Marosi, Leahy, Ebanks-Landell, Pennington, Fornah, Vela, Udoh (Bloxham 86), Bowman, Bennett (Daniels 82), Nurse (Pierre 88), Flanagan. Unused – Burgoyne, Whalley, Bondswell, Janneh.
Referee – A Backhouse
Attendance – 9253 (426)