ROTHERHAM United notched a terrific victory over League One promotion rivals Scunthorpe to continue their storming run of form.
A goal in each half from Joe Newell and Semi Ajayi forged a hard-fought 2-1 win against lively and dangerous opponents, much to the delight of 2,100 travelling fans at Glanford Park.
A fourth straight win, it stretches the Millers’ unbeaten run to 11 matches and lifts them to within a point of the fourth-placed Scunthorpe with a game in hand.
The first half was a fast-paced, hectic affair between two sides committed to attack.
Moving the ball with pace and precision, Scunthorpe looked the more dangerous and the Millers had to keep switched on at the back to keep them at bay.
Marek Rodak needed two attempts to save a drive from Duane Holmes and was lucky not to give a penalty away when he brought Ivan Toney to ground in the box. Referee Graham Salisbury was unmoved.
Rotherham had to be content with two early half-chances for Michael Smith and Newell before they got their noses in front on 31 minutes. Will Vaulks’ long throw was flicked on and Newell got in to hook the ball home. That strike stretched the Millers’ scoring streak to 24 consecutive games. It was also Newell’s second goal in three matches.
The second half started as the first finished, with Scunthorpe on the front foot. The dangerous Josh Morris seeing his shot dribble just wide of the post.
The Millers played their way back into the game and after Vaulks’ went close with a snap shot, they regained the lead on 70 minutes. A defensive block spun the ball high into the air and Ajayi was on hand to guide his header home in front of the jubilant visiting supporters.
The celebrations in the away end had barely died down when the hosts responded. Substitute Lee Novak got free in the area and rounded Rodak to slot home.
The closing stages were nip and tuck and eight minutes of stoppage time didn’t soothe the nerves. Toney very nearly scored off the last kick of the game but Rotherham saw it through and walked off to a deserved ovation from their supporters.
The match was a fine advert for League One.
Scunthorpe: Gilks; Vermijl, Townsend (Williams 87), Wallace, McArdle; Holmes, Bishop, Ojo, Morris; Hopper (Novak 66), Toney
Millers: Rodak; Emmanuel, Mattock, Ajayi, Wood; Forde, Vaulks, Towell, Newell (Williams 67); Ball (Lavery 75), Smith
Referee: Graham Salisbury (Lancs)