ROTHERHAM United are out of the FA Cup after falling to a late strike at League Two strugglers Crewe.
Leading through Will Vaulks’ fine first-half effort, the Millers were pressed back by a much improved home side in the second half. They equalised soon after the break through Brad Walker before Callum Ainley swooped to sentence Paul Warne’s men to 2-1 defeat. It was their third loss in four.
Showing five changes from the side which laboured so poorly in defeat to Gillingham last week, Rotherham had much the better of the first half against nervous opponents. Joe Newell was given the run of the place and Ryan Williams also saw plenty of the ball on the opposite flank.
United got their noses in front on 20 minutes with a delightful goal from Vaulks, finding the top corner with a measured curler. It was his third goal in six games and another chance to treat the 603 travelling fans to his trademark somersault celebration.
Kieffer Moore gets a header in on a frustrating day at Gresty Road.
Ex-Miller Jordan Bowery and the home attackers couldn’t make headway and Richard O’Donell, re-introduced in goal for Marek Rodak, didn’t have a serious save to make in the first half. Indeed Crewe were fortunate not to fall further behind just before half time when Kieffer Moore thumped home a header from a corner, only for the linesman’s flag to cut short the celebrations. It was ruled out for a foul before the ball came in.
The second half was only seconds old when Crewe levelled. A free-kick was whipped in and Walker met it with a glancing header over O’Donnell.
The leveller lifted Crewe and the tie took a turn. Another former Rotherham man, Michael Raynes, had the ball taken off his toe in a dangerous position and Perry Ng flashed an effort just over.
At last the crowd had a real cup tie to enjoy and it took a great reflex save by Dave Richards from Moore’s close-range header to keep the scores level as the game entered the closing minutes.
Both sides went for it in the final stages but it was Crewe who dealt the decisive blow. They played the ball forward and Ainley won the chase to poke home.
Vaulks forced Richardson into a desperate stoppage time block from a free-kick but the home side, managed by Warne’s old team-mate David Artell, held out to earn a place in Monday’s second-round draw.
Crewe: Richards, Ng, Pickering, Raynes, Walker, Ainley, Lowery, Grant, Bowery, Cooper, Dagnall
Millers: O'Donnell; Cummings, Ajayi, Wood (Ihiekwe 83), Emmanuel; Williams (Taylor 62), Vaulks, Potter, Newell; Ball (Towell 69); Moore.
Referee: Scott Oldham (Lancs)
Attendance: 2,597 (603 visitors)