The battle goes on ... On-the-whistle report: Rotherham United 1 Blackburn Rovers 1

The battle goes on ... On-the-whistle report: Rotherham United 1 Blackburn Rovers 1

By Paul Davis | 01/05/2021

The battle goes on ... On-the-whistle report: Rotherham United 1 Blackburn Rovers 1
Michael Smith and Freddie Ladapo battle against Blackburn Rovers. Picture by Dave Poucher

ROTHERHAM United will take their Championship survival fight to the last day of the season after saving themselves with a late equaliser against Blackburn Rovers this afternoon.

The Millers' hopes were dwindling as they trailed deep in the second half at AESSEAL New York Stadium but loanee Lewis Wing picked the perfect time to score his first goal for the club.

His 20-yard free-kicked found the net in the 86th minutes to earn a priceless point and end a run of five straight defeats for Paul Warne's side.

They closed to the gap on fourth-bottom Derby County to three points and now head to Luton Town on Tuesday looking to haul in the Rams even further.

Everything will come down to next Saturday when Rotherham travel to Cardiff City and Derby entertain Sheffield Wednesday.

Wing's goal was just reward for the Millers who threw everything they could at Rovers in the closing stages.

Rotherham, their need for victory was so much greater than the visitors', made the brighter start and Jamie Lindsay was only inches wide with an eight-minute effort from just outside the area when Michael Smith's cross was headed out into his path.

Six minutes later, Freddie Ladapo's quick turn gave him a sight of goal but the finish didn't match the quality of his set-up and Thomas Kaminski gathered comfortably.

Disaster struck for the Millers on 17 minutes when Angus MacDonald's touch was too heavy, allowing Adam Armstrong to rob the centre-half and run in on goal.

The Blackburn striker, the third-highest scorer in the second tier, had no trouble slipping the ball past Jamal Blackman for his 25th league goal of the campaign.

Within five minutes Armstrong was clear again but this time Blackman deflected his low shot for a corner, then a volley from the same player soon afterwards gave the Rotherham goalkeeper an easier save.

As the half-hour mark approached, Ryan Giles crossed well from the left but Chiedozie Ogbene, with time and space to beat Kaminski, directed his header off target.

Neither side were dominating and Rotherham, with their Championship status on the line, needed to be doing more against 15th-placed opposition who had nothing at stake.

Angus MacDonald's afternoon grew even worse in the 36th minute when he limped out of proceedings to be replaced by Wes Harding.

Giles and Joe Rothwell traded shots over the bar and the Millers headed into the break knowing their first-half performance had to be improved upon after the interval.

Manager Warne had gone with his usual 3-5-2 formation which saw Ogbene and Giles as wing-backs and Smith and Ladapo paired up front.

Shaun MacDonald was chosen in midfield and Ben Wiles and Harding, both starters against Brentford in midweek, dropped to the bench.

Within two minutes of the restart, Smith broke down the right to shoot low across goal and Ladapo was unable to turn in the ball at the far post when Kaminski failed to hold on.

At the other end, it required heroics from Blackman to claw away Bradley Johnson's header and keep Rotherham in the contest.

The game was really opening up and only seven minutes of the second half had been played when Giles shot wide at the back post.

Warne's side were living dangerously and Ben Brereton spurned a great chance to extend Rovers' lead when he fired over with only Blackman to beat on 53 minutes.

Rothwell danced through and wasn't far away in in the 62nd minute and in response Ogbene flashed a shot across goal and just wide of the post.

The Millers were suffered the effect of playing their tenth match in 30 days but roused themselves just when it mattered.

Wing curled his set-piece beyond Kaminski and substitute George Hirst twice went close to snatching a winner as the clock ticked down.

Armstrong was sprung clear again in the 90th minute and Rotherham hearts were in mouths until Blackman pulled off an absolutely vital save.

Now on to Tuesday ...

Goals: Armstrong 17 (Blackburn), Wing 86 (Rotherham).

Rotherham (3-5-2): Jamal Blackman; Michael Ihiekwe, Richard Wood, Angus MacDonald (Wes Harding 37); Chiedozie Ogbene (Florian Jozefzoon 69), Jamie Lindsay (Dan Barlaser 69), Shaun MacDonald (Ben Wiles H-T), Lewis Wing, Ryan Giles; Michael Smith (George Hirst 69), Freddie Ladapo. Subs not used: Josh Vickers, Matt Olosunde, Joe Mattock, Kieran Sadlier.

Blackburn (4-2-3-1): Thomas Kaminski; Ryan Nyambe, Darragh Lenihan, Taylor Harwood-Bellis, Amari'i Bell; Bradley Johnson, Lewis Travis; Sam Gallagher (Tyrhys Doland 73), Joe Rothwell (Harvey Elliott 83), Ben Brereton; Adam Armstrong. Subs not used: Aynsley Pears, Barry Douglas, Jacob Davenport, John Buckley, Corry Evans, Elliott Bennett.

Referee: Tony Harrington (Cleveland).


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