On-the-whistle report: Millers denied by goalkeeper heroics ... Lincoln City 1 Rotherham United 1

On-the-whistle report: Millers denied by goalkeeper heroics ... Lincoln City 1 Rotherham United 1

By Paul Davis | 14/09/2021

On-the-whistle report: Millers denied by goalkeeper heroics ... Lincoln City 1 Rotherham United 1
Tolaji Bola on his League One Millers debut. Picture by Jim Brailsford

MICHAEL Smith's fifth goal in seven games saw Rotherham United claim a point at Lincoln City but on another night he would have bagged a hat-trick and victory would have gone to the Millers.

The striker was denied by a man-of-the match display from Imps goalkeeper Joshua Griffiths who was the one man who stood between the visitors and the win they deserved.

Cheered on by a big away following, Rotherham dominated the first half and threw everything at Lincoln in the closing stages as they responded in impressive manner to the weekend loss against Fleetwood Town.

The home team were clinging on desperately at the end as the 13th-placed Millers closed the gap between them and the play-off spots to two points.

After an even opening, Rotherham should have taken the lead in the 13th minute.

Freddie Ladapo swivelled in the Lincoln box and found Smith but his striker partner shot too close to Griffiths who made a sharp save.

Nine minutes later, the same duo combined to lethal effect and Ladapo was the provider again, giving Smith time and space with a low cross to stab the ball over the line to put the visitors ahead.

A large away following was packed into the Stacey West Stand and were appreciating the way the Millers were taking the game to the home side.

Lincoln's first real moment of danger didn't arrive until eight minutes before the break as Rotherham old boy Chris Maguire, on his first Imps start, teed up substitute Lewis Fiorini who fired just wide from the edge of the area.

Moments later, Ollie Rathbone almost doubled Rotherham's advantage, driving forward, letting fly with a low, skidding long-ranger and forcing an excellent, full-stretch save from the diving Griffiths.

The rain that had fallen all day had abated but the LNER Stadium still had a very autumnal feel to it on a damp Tuesday night.

Paul Warne's men added some brightness with their committed, all-action first-half display, in which Rathbone was outstanding, and went in at the break fully deserving their lead.

The manager had responded to last Saturday's home loss to Fleetwood Town by making four changes. Rarmani Edmonds-Green and Joe Mattock came into three-man backline, with Richard Wood and Wes Harding dropping out.

Tolaji Bola was given a League debut in place of Kieran Sadlier on the left and Dan Barlaser was preferred in midfield to Ben Wiles.

Rotherham started the second half well but City were level ten minutes after the break when Manchester City loanee Fiorini squeezed through the middle to fire low past Viktor Johansson.

Soon after, a mazy run from Anthony Scully ended with the Lincoln man shooting just past the post.

The contest had reached a crucial stage and both sides were looking for a second goal. Some heavy challenges were flying in, particularly on Millers winger Chiedozie Ogbene.

Smith was close to putting Rotherham in front again but his 69th-minute header was clawed away by the impressive Griffiths.

The goalkeeper was turning out to be by far Lincoln's best player and, with time ticking away, three times his heroics kept his team level as Smith, twice, and sub Will Grigg thought they'd scored with headers.

Late on, it continued to be all Rotherham who were attacking the end holding their own supporters.

Sub Ben Wiles shot wide, Grigg had an effort cleared off the line and then Smith curled a shot just over as Lincoln just managed to hang on.

Lincoln (4-3-3): Joshua Griffiths, Regan Pool, Lewis Montsma, Adam Jackson, Jamie Robson (Cohen Bramall 81); Lasse Sorensen, Liam Bridcutt, Conor McGrandles (Lewis Fiorini 22); Chris Maguire (Hakeeb Adelakun 67), Tom Hopper, Anthony Scully. Subs not used: Sam Long, Teddy Bishop, Dan Nlundulu, TJ Eyoma.

Rotherham (3-5-2): Viktor Johansson; Rarmani Edmonds-Green, Michael Ihiekwe, Joe Mattock; Chiedozie Ogbene, Jamie Lindsay (Ben Wiles 81), Dan Barlaser, Ollie Rathbone, Tolaji Bola (Kieran Sadlier 68); Freddie Ladapo (Will Grigg 68), Michael Smith. Subs not used: Josh Vickers, Richard Wood, Hakeem Odoffin, Josh Kayode.

Goals: Smith 22 (Rotherham); Fiorini 55 (Lincoln).

Referee: Sam Barrott (West Yorkshire).

Attendance: 8,788 (1,170).

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