On-the-whistle report: Rotherham United 1 Newcastle United 1

On-the-whistle report: Rotherham United 1 Newcastle United 1

By Paul Davis | 27/07/2021

On-the-whistle report: Rotherham United 1 Newcastle United 1
Michael Smith scores the opening goal. Picture by Kerrie Beddows

STRIKER Michael Smith scored against his boyhood club as Rotherham United held Premier League opposition in tonight's friendly clash at AESSEAL New York Stadium.

The Geordie forward was a regular visitor St James Park to watch Newcastle United when he was growing up and his delight at hitting the target against the Magpies early on was evident.

Playing in front of fans at New York for the first time since the Covid pandemic, the Millers kept their advantage until the dying minutes when Jeff Hendricks headed an equaliser.

Rotherham, unbeaten through pre-season, would have loved to have held on for a win but can take great heart ahead of their League One campaign from a display full of running and commitment.

They  made a dream start, going ahead after eight minutes, and there was no bigger smile in S60 than the one on the face of Smith.

The  frontman met Mickel Miller's pinpoint cross from the left to score with a thumping header his boyhood idol, Alan Shearer, would have been pleased with.

The visitors' top-flight quality was obvious but in the opening half an hour Rotherham produced their best form of pre-season so far.

They gave Steve Bruce's men no time on the ball and then attacked with skill and speed to leave the Magpies wondering what was hitting them.

Freddie Ladapo had a sight of goal from close in on 24 minutes but couldn't make the most of the opportunity.

For Newcastle, Sean Longstaff shot over the bar after a free-kick had been played short to him and then failed to hit the target with a flicked effort from Matt Ritchie's pass.

Four minutes before the break, Wes Harding tried to be too cute with a header inside, alllowing in Callum Wilson who sent a low shot just wide.

But it was the Millers who had been the dominant side and they headed in at the break more than happy with their display.

The Toon fans had been loud in the early stages, taunting the Millers supporters for their lack of noise, but by half-time the tables had turned and it was the home followers who were in full voice.

Two minutes into the second half, Viktor Johansson was called into action for the first time, equal to the task as Dwight Gayle turned substitute Jacob Murphy's cross towards goal.

The goalkeeper had to be at his superb best seven minutes late as he somehow clawed away Federico Fernandez's back-post header with a stunning reflex save.

The Magpies were threatening more now as they played towards their own fans and Johansson was becoming the busiest player on the pitch as dived to hold on to a Longstaff shot.

Gayle dribbled through and missed the target just before the Millers brought on a trialist in midfield in place of Ben Wiles on the hour mark.

Both sides made a series of substitutions and Rotherham were holding on without too much trouble as the contest entered its closing stages.

They even came close to doubling their lead as young striker Josh Kayode forced his way through a couple of defenders to reach the ball and knock it just wide in front of the kop.

Only six minutes remained when sub Jeff Hendrick rose to head home a corner before Kayode dragged another shot the wrong side of the post.

With a team now containing several youngsters, the Millers finished the match on the attack.

Smith, taken off late on, was clapping as much as anyone at the end.

Rotherham (3-5-3): Viktor Johansson; Wes Harding, Richard Wood (Jake Hull 70), Michael Ihiekwe; Chiedozie Ogbene (Kieran Sadlier 70), Jamie Lindsay (Curtis Durose 80), Dan Barlaser, Ben Wiles (Trialist 59), Mickel Miller (Jacob Gratton 70); Freddie Ladapo (Josh Kayode 70), Michael Smith (Jerome Greaves 80). Subs not used: Josh Chapman.

Newcastle (4-1-3-2): Freddie Woodman; Federico Fernandez (Emil Krafth 64), Jamaal Lascelles (Paul Dummett H-T), Ciaran Clark (Kell Watts H-T), Jamal Lewis; Isaac Hayden (Matty Longstaff 72); Matt Ritchie (Fabian Schar 64), Sean Longstaff (Jack Young 80), Ryan Fraser (Jacob Murphy H-T); Callum Wilson (Jeff Hendrick 72), Dwight Gayle (Joe White 77). Subs not used: Mark Gillespie, Dan Langley, Matthew Bondswell.

Goals: Smith 8 (Rotherham); Hendrick 84 (Newcastle).

Referee: Andy Madley (West Yorkshire).

Attendance: 4,370 (1,488).

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