On-the-whistle report: Rotherham United 3 Stoke City 3

On-the-whistle report: Rotherham United 3 Stoke City 3

By Paul Davis | 19/01/2021

On-the-whistle report: Rotherham United 3 Stoke City 3
Scorer Matt Crooks in action against Stoke City. Picture by Kerrie Beddows

ROTHERHAM United came agonisingly close to celebrating manager Paul Warne's 200th match in the hot-seat with a win in a six-goal Championship thriller with Stoke City.

Twice the Millers led at rain-lashed AESSEAL New York Stadium as they sought successive second-tier victories for the first time in their boss's tenure but both times they were pegged back.

In an end-to-end, hard-fought contest a draw was a fair result but that won't stop Warne and side thinking what might have been.

They performed superbly and look capable of staying in the division.

A point saw them remain in 22nd spot with games in hand over all the teams above them.

Rotherham fell behind in the 14th minute when they were the victims of a cruel deflection.

Stoke new boy Rhys Norrington-Davies, signed on loan from Sheffield United, swung in a cross from the left and Angus MacDonald's outstretched foot sent it looping over Jamal Blackman for an own goal.

There was almost a quickfire response from the home side as Wes Harding crashed a header from a corner against the underside of the bar, with the ball  coming down on the line.

Matt Crooks had a clear sight of goal  on 23 minutes but Stoke defended in numbers and his goalbound shot hit a wall of blue shirts.

Eight minutes later, the midfielder struck to much greater effect. His running power was too much for the visitor's defence as he sped into the box to turn in Michael Smith's low cross from the right for the equaliser.

Richard Wood produced a a captain's block to deny Jordan Thompson before Dan Barlaser fired a 30-yard free-kick over the bar.

Warne had kept faith with the side that had performed so well at the weekend in the 1-0 win at Derby County.

Match-winner Jamie Lindsay, skipper Richard Wood and Wes Harding all had knocks after that game but were declared fit.

The rain fell heavily but did nothing to dampen Rotherham's spirit as they took the game to a team with play-off aspiration and didn't give them a second on the ball.

Six minutes after the break, the Millers were ahead for the first time.

Barlaser played a corner to the edge of the area where the lurking Ben Wiles didn't connect cleanly but still sent the ball towards goal.

In the ensuing scramble, Smith pounced to head home his fourth goal in his last five league matches.

Warne's men remained on top and Stoke goalkeeper Joe Bursik was inspiring no confidence with some wayward decision-making that played his team into trouble more than once.

The keeper wobbles were contagious and Rotherham conceded gave away a soft leveller just past the hour mark when Blackman dithered and Nick Powell's right-flank delivery left Danny Batth free to head in at the back post.

The Millers are giving no-one an easy ride these days and they needed only five minutes to restore their advantage as Crooks powered in a shot off the North Stand bar for his second of the game.

Back came Stoke on 75 minutes and Powell restored parity by heading home James McLean's cross.

Either side of the visitors' third Crooks was close to his hat-trick, steering a shot wide and then being thwarted by a last-ditch tackle just as he was pulling the trigger after going clean through.

Batth went close with a header late on but it was the Millers who almost grabbed all three points in stoppage time.

Freddie Ladapo set up Crooks on the edge of the area but, after his two previous moments of glory, he was just inches away from a superb treble the day before his 27th birthday.

Honours even on a memorable night.

Goals: Crooks 31, 67, Smith 51 (Rotherham); A MacDonald og 14, Batth 62. Powell 75 (Stoke).

Rotherham (3-5-1-1): Jamal Blackman; Michael Ihiekwe, Richard Wood, Angus MacDonald (Clark Robertson 80); Matt Olosunde, Dan Barlaser (Freddie Ladapo 83), Jamie Lindsay, Ben Wiles, Wes Harding; Matt Crooks; Michael Smith (George Hirst 89). Subs not used: Viktor Johansson, Billy Jones, Curtis Tilt, Adam Thompson, Trevor Clarke, Shaun MacDonald.

Stoke (4-3-3): Joe Bursik; Nathan Collins, Harry Souttar, Danny Batth, Rhys Norrington-Davies; Jordan Cousins (Joe Allen 66), John Obi Mikel, Jordan Thompson (James McLean 73); Rabbi Matondo (Jack Clarke 73), Jacob Brown (Steven Fletcher 66), Nick Powell. Subs not used: Adam Davies, Liam Lindsay, Sam Vokes, Tommy Smith, Sam Clucas.

Referee: Matt Donohue (Greater Manchester).

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