On-the-whistle report: Rochdale 2 Rotherham United 2

On-the-whistle report: Rochdale 2 Rotherham United 2

By Paul Davis | 20/07/2021

On-the-whistle report: Rochdale 2 Rotherham United 2
Josh Kayode in action at Rochdale. Picture by Jim Brailsford

AS a familiar face prepared to depart, a new one joined the Rotherham United ranks as the Millers stepped up their preparation for their League One campaign with an outing at Rochdale tonight.

Matt Crooks wasn't in the squad as the midfielder closes in on a move to Championship Middlesbrough after two and a half years of sterling service.

But Shane Ferguson made his debut off the bench only hours after the Northern Ireland international's arrival on a two-deal had been confirmed by the club.

By the time the left-sided signing entered the fray in the second-half Rotherham were 2-0 down on a disappointing evening that threw up a lot of questions and not enough answers.

But he helped inspire a late fightback against League Two opposition that saw the contest finish 2-2.

Chiedozie Ogbene's sweet 82nd-minute finish - showing all the directness and sharpness Rotherham had lacked for most of the encounter - set things in motion and Michael Ihiekwe rounded things off in the dying seconds.

Rochdale made much the better start and had a couple of sights of goal without troubling goalkeeper Viktor Johansson.

A sinewy dart by Mickel Miller which combined pace with poise and saw him beat three men showed the Millers could be a threat, but the urgent voices of Paul Warne and Richie Barker on the touchline were an indication the management duo weren't happy with much else they were seeing.

Around 100 Millers fans basked in the evening sun at the Crown Oil Arena where the high temperatures saw the game paused midway through the first half for a drinks break.

The first effort on target came on 26 minutes when Johansson had little trouble holding on to a low Matt Done effort from the edge of the area.

Just past the half-hour mark, it needed a spectacular Johansson intervention to deny Alex Newby an opener as the Dale man tried his luck after being picked out on the right.

It took until the 39th minute for the Millers to muster an effort on goal, Ben Wiles' header from Dan Barlaser's ball forward giving Jay Lynch an easy save, and they were glad to still be on level terms as they trooped in at the interval having been outfought and outplayed.

This was Rotherham's first serious pre-season outing and it came exactly 500 days since their last competitive match in front of supporters - at this venue on March 7 2020 a week before England went into its first Covid lockdown.

The visitors upped their pace after the break and Freddie Ladapo hooked a tame 58th-minute effort at the Dale keeper. It never threatened the goal but at least Warne's men were now spending more time in the Dale half.

Joe Mattock's clearing header thwarted the lurking Jake Beesley on 63 minutes but moments later the Millers left-back tripped the same player who powered the ball beyond Johansson from the penalty spot.

The response from Rotherham was almost instant and Ladapo thought he had scored only for Trialist C to produce a crucial block, yet they fell further behind in the 70th minute when Beesley's shot found the bottom corner.

A raft of substitions followed and Ogbene's back-post header was kept out but it was still the home side who held the initiative and Abraham Odoh curled an effort only inches wide.

Ogbene ran in and curled an emphatic finish into the far corner before Ihiekwe levelled matters with virtually the final touch of the match as Rotherham got out of jail.

Rochdale: Jay Lynch (Trialist D H-T), Trialist A (Joe Dunne 78), Jimmy McNulty (Jimmy Keohane 61), Trialist B (Eoghan O'Connell 61), Aaron Morley (Ethan Brierley 70), Jake Beesley (Kacper Mialkowski 86), Alex Newby (Anisio Jesus 86), Conor Grant (Jordan Scanlon 86), Ollie Rathbone (Stephen Dooley 70), Matt Done (Abraham Odoh 52), Trialist C. Subs not used: Ben Kershaw, Brad Wade.

Rotherham (3-4-3): Viktor Johansson; Jake Hull (Michael Ihiekwe H-T), Richard Wood, Joe Mattock; Wes Harding, Dan Barlaser (Jamie Lindsay 70), Ben Wiles, Kieran Sadlier (Chiedozie Ogbene 70); Josh Kayode (Jacob Gratton 87), Freddie Ladapo (Michael Smith 70), Mickel Miller (Shane Ferguson 70). Subs not used: Josh Chapman, Josh Vickers, Jake Cooper, Jerome Greaves.

Goals: Beesley pen 64, Beesley 70 (Rochdale); Ogbene 82, Ihiekwe 90 (Rotherham).

Referee: Seb Stockbridge (Tyne).

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