Millers survive late scare to boost promotion bid ... on-the-whistle report: Rotherham United 2 Lincoln City 1

Millers survive late scare to boost promotion bid ... on-the-whistle report: Rotherham United 2 Lincoln City 1

By Paul Davis | 15/03/2022

Millers survive late scare to boost promotion bid ... on-the-whistle report: Rotherham United 2 Lincoln City 1
The Millers celebrate taking the lead through Ben Wiles. Picture by Kerrie Beddows

ROTHERHAM United held off a second-half fightback from Lincoln City to stretch their gap over the chasing pack in League One tonight.

The table-toppers took advantage of their game in hand MK Dons and moved seven points clear of the third-placed side by beating the Imps at AESSEAL New York Stadium.

A scintillating first-half display saw them stun the visitors with two quickfire strikes and they looked to have the contest in the bag

But a late Lincoln goal made for a nervy final ten minutes for Paul Warne's men before they could celebrate a crucial victory in their bid to secure an automatic-promotion spot.

The Imps missed two huge stoppage-time chances to earn a draw and the Millers were hanging on at the final whistle.

The margin to MK is a now a significant one with only eight games left to play.

Rotherham should have been ahead on five minutes when a lightning break saw Mickel Miller find Ben Wiles at the back post.

The midfielder had time and space to pick his spot but could only hit Lincoln goalkeeper Jordan Wright.

He made up for it in fine style just five minutes later, producing a lovely finish into the bottom corner after being sprung clear by Ollie Rathbone's slide-rule pass.

Even better was to follow soon after when the scorer broke at pace and this time was the provider, setting up Chiedozie Ogbene to steer the ball home from the edge of the box.

Two quality strikes in three fantastic minutes.

The clubs were doing battle at New York at the third time of asking as the original December fixture was postponed because of Covid cases in the Imps' camp and then January's rearranged date fell victim to a frozen pitch.

There were no such problem this time and on a warm evening in S60 the home team were in hot form, full of purpose and running and utterly dominating proceedings.

On the half-hour mark it could have been three as a touch of magic from Wiles created a sight of goal for Mickel Miller who just failed to make contact as the ball flashed across the net.

Then Ogbene beat his man on the outside but Michael Smith couldn't get enough power on his shot when the cross came in, allowing Lincoln to block.

The 16th-placed visitors had managed only a couple of off-target efforts until the closing stages of the first half when Cohen Bramall tested former Imps keeper Josh Vickers with a long-range free-kick

Young striker Josh Kayode had been handed a rare league start and was making the most of his opportunity while veteran skipper Richard Wood was organising things at the back, three days after leading the side in the goalless draw at Wycombe Wanderers.

Miller was on the left flank in a side showing three changes as Shane Ferguson moved to the bench and Angus MacDonald made way at centre-half for Joe Mattock.

Five minutes after the restart Wiles could have had a second when he was set up by Smith only to shoot too close to Wright.

The Imps had come more into the game and they should have reduced their arrears in the 60th minute when Tom Hopper was guilty of a glaring error as he lifted the ball over the bar from point-blank range.

The striker didn't miss on 81 minutes, though, turning Bramall's low cross into the net to set up a tense finish.

Vickers saved from John Marquis in the dying seconds and three sides of New York felt utter relief when Liam Cullen fired the rebound over.

Rotherham had made hard work of the win after their flying beginning but the main thing was the promotion battle taking a big swing in their favour.

Rotherham (3-5-2): Josh Vickers; Michael Ihiekwe, Richard Wood, Joe Mattock; Chiedozie Ogbene, Ben Wiles, Dan Barlaser (Angus MacDonald 67), Ollie Rathbone (Hakeem Odoffin 76), Mickel Miller; Michael Smith, Josh Kayode (Wes Harding, 67). Subs not used: Viktor Johansson, Rarmani Edmonds-Green, Jordi Osei-Tutu, Shane Ferguson.

Lincoln (3-5-2): Jordan Wight; TJ Eyoma, Adam Jackson, Joe Walsh; Brooke Norton-Cuffy, Ted Bishop (Lasse Sorensen 73), Lewis Fiorini, Anthony Scully (Liam Cullen 69), Cohen Bramall; John Marquis, Tom Hopper. Subs not used: Max Sanders, Morgan Whittaker, Chris Maguire, Hakeeb Adelakun, Ben House.

Goals: Wiles 11, Ogbene 13 (Rotherham); Hopper 81 (Lincoln).

Referee: Andy Haines (Tyne and Wear).

Attendance: 9,575 (1,209).