Millers lose pole position ... on-the-whistle report: Fleetwood Town 1 Rotherham United 0

Millers lose pole position ... on-the-whistle report: Fleetwood Town 1 Rotherham United 0

By Paul Davis | 15/01/2022

Millers lose pole position ... on-the-whistle report: Fleetwood Town 1 Rotherham United 0
Michael Ihiekwe and Shane Ferguson in action at Fleetwood. Picture by Jim Brailsford

ROTHERHAM United gave up top spot in League One as they fell to a stoppage-time defeat at Fleetwood Town this afternoon.

The Millers slipped to third in the table, behind Wycombe Wanderers and Sunderland, but have two games in hand over the teams now above them.

Paul Warne's men deserved something from the clash on the weight of opportunities they created.

However, they were kept at bay by dogged defending from Fleetwood who are locked in a battle of their own at the other end of the divisionand then fell to substitute Anthony Pilkington's sucker-punch at the death.

Before proceedings commenced, a minute's silence in memory of home supporters who had died in the last 12 months sadly wasn't observed by a pocket of away fans as impeccably as it should have been.

When the action did get under way, the contest was less than two minutes old when Josh Vickers prevented Rotherham going behind, saving well with his feet as Callum Camps bore down on goal.

Camp volleyed over from the ensuing corner and ten minutes later tried his luck from distance only to find Vickers in his way again.

The Millers were coping comfortably with the home side's danger and threatened themselves at the other end with a shot on the turn from Will Grigg and a header from the same player

On 32 minutes the Rotherham striker was only inches away from opening the scoring, chesting the ball just wide after a quick-thinking free-kick link-up between Dan Barlaser and Chiedozie Ogbene had opened up the opposition defence.

Soon after, he came even closer, hitting the bar with a header when Michael Smith nodded Barlaser's delivery back across goal.

Fleetwood began the contest only one spot above the relegation zone although they had picked up in recent weeks under new manager Stephen Crainey and had won three and drawn one of their last five outings.

They'd started brightly but it was the Millers who were starting to get the upper hand on a cold day on the Fylde coast as half-time approached.

The threadbare pitch had been watered too heavily prior to kick-off and the uneven surface was cutting up as the match unfolded.

Ogbene rose in the 45th minute and headed Shane Ferguson's pinpoint cross towards goal but he was foiled by a fingertip stop from Millers old boy Alex Cairns.

Vickers had been preferred to Viktor Johansson in goal after his man-of-the-match display in the FA Cup at QPR the previous week.

Midfielder Ben Wiles returned to the side after a back issue but once again there was no starting place for Freddie Ladapo, following his transfer request, and the 12-goal striker was on the bench.

When Grigg was brought off at the break, it was young centre-forward Josh Kayode who came on in his place.

Within two minutes, the 21-year-old glanced a header just off target as the Millers attacked the end housing their raucous, sold-out away following.

On the hour mark, he broke forward but his curling effort lacked the power to worry Cairns.

The Millers dominated the first 20 minutes of the second half yet they were relieved to see Tom Clarke head over from a corner before Ogbene tumbled in the opposing box and for the second week in succession was denied a penalty.

As time started to tick away, Smith headed over as the Ferguson supply line continued to provide opportunities from the left and then Ferguson himself shot wide.

Fleetwood raised the game in the final few minutes but the Millers survived without any real scares until Pilkington pounced in the dying seconds.

Fleetwood (4-1-2-3): Alex Cairns; Callum Johnson, Tom Clarke, Zak Jules, Danny Andrew; Dan Batty; Carl Johnston (Toto Nsiala H-T), Callum Camps (Jay Matete 85); Paddy Lane, Ellis Harrison, Cian Hayes (Anthony Pilkington 67). Subs not used: Bill Crellin, Shayden Morris, Dylan Boyle, Max McMillan.

Rotherham (3-5-2): Josh Vickers; Rarmani Edmonds-Green, Richard Wood, Michael Ihiekwe; Chiedozie Ogbene, Ben Wiles, Dan Barlaser, Ollie Rathbone, Shane Ferguson; Michael Smith, Will Grigg (Josh Kayode H-T). Subs not used: Viktor Johansson, Wes Harding, Joe Mattock, Jamie Lindsay, Hakeem Odoffin, Freddie Ladapo.

Goals: Pilkington 90+4 (Fleetwood).

Referee: Rob Lewis (Shrewsbury).



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