On-the-whistle report: Rotherham United 2 Fleetwood Town 2

On-the-whistle report: Rotherham United 2 Fleetwood Town 2

By Paul Davis | 21/12/2019

On-the-whistle report: Rotherham United 2 Fleetwood Town 2
Ben Wiles in action against Fleetwood. Picture by Dave Poucher

DEPLETED Rotherham United overcame an injury crisis to fight back in the second half to earn a point in their final League One match before Christmas at AESSEAL New York Stadium.

The Millers were ravaged by injuries and illness, with more than half-dozen potential starters ruled out and others playing when not fully fit.

They were dominated by Fleetwood Town in the opening period and trailed 1-0 at the break.

But a change of formation at half-time sparked a spirited response and the match finished 2-2 after goals from Freddie Ladapo and Matt Crooks who had been deployed all game as an emergency centre-back.

Paul Warne's side, who slipped from sixth to eighth place, almost won it at the death, after Fleetwood has survived a penalty shout as Joe Mattock tumbled, when Carlton Morris steered the ball over following a surging run from fellow substitute Chiedozie Ogbene.

With only one central defender, Adam Thompson, available, Rotherham started with three at the back and held out until the 26th minute.

Kyle Dempsey had already hit the post and Paddy Madden shot wide for the visitors who went in front when Ched Evans glanced home Lewie Coyle's right-wing cross.

The home team were hardly in the game, although Mattock flashed a long-distance drive over the bar and Freddie Ladapo had a shot on the turn saved.

They should have had a penalty when Coyle manhandled Michael Smith in the area just after the half-hour mark but referee Peter Wright, as poor as any official seen at New York this season, gave nothing.

Fleetwood were by far the better side and should have added to their lead seconds before the interval when Ben Wiles' mistake saw Dempsey scamper clear only to fire over.

Rotherham switched to 4-4-2 at the break and started the second half with real intent. Kyle Vassell burst down the left and Ladapo wasn't far away as he got on the end of his teammate's low 46th-minute cross.

Dan Iversen had to stretch four minutes later to keep out Wes Burns' shot on the turn but the Millers were looking a different side and were level on 62 minutes when Ladapo's header, from Matt Olosunde's cross, found the net with the help of a post.

However, Olosunde had no time to admire his contribution before disaster struck. Within a minute, the right-back sent a weak back-header towards Iversen who was too weak in allowing Evans to force home the ball for a totally avoidable goal.

After Iversen has saved from Evans, Olosunde tried to make amends for his earlier error with a searching 72nd-minute cross and Smith should have done better than head off target at the back post.

Eight minutes later New York erupted as Crooks poked the ball home after Thompson, played in by Dan Barlaser, had just failed to score.

Mattock fell and Morris missed as, through all the injuries and sickness, Rotherham finished the match going in search of a winner that had seemed impossible in the first half.

Rotherham (3-4-1-2): Daniel Iversen; Adam Thompson, Matt Crooks, Joe Mattock; Matt Olosunde, Ben Wiles (Jake Hastie 77), Dan Barlaser, Trevor Clarke (Chiedozie Ogbene H-T); Kyle Vassell; Michael Smith (Carlton Morris 80), Freddie Ladapo. Subs not used: Lewis Price, Clark Robertson, Julien Lamy, Jacob Gratton.

Fleetwood (4-1-2-3): Billy Crellin; Lewie Coyle, Peter Clarke, Harry Soutar, Danny Andrew; Paul Coutts; Jack Sowerby (Josh Morris 83), Kyle Dempsey; Wes Burns, Ched Evans (Ashley Eastham 83), Paddy Madden. Subs not used: Alex Cairns, Conor McAleny, Harrison Biggins, Harvey Saunders, Gerard Garner.

Goals: Ladapo 62, Crooks 80 (Rotherham); Evans 26, 63 (Fleetwood).

Referee: Peter Wright (Merseyside).

Attendance: 7,883 (126).