A step nearer promotion ... on-the-whistle report: Rotherham United 1 Wigan Athletic 1

ROTHERHAM United fought back to earn a share of the spoils as their top-of-the-table clash with Wigan Athletic finished all square in front of a full house at AESSEAL New York Stadium.
Ollie Rathbone on the attack in the first half for Rotherham. Picture by Kerrie BeddowsOllie Rathbone on the attack in the first half for Rotherham. Picture by Kerrie Beddows
Ollie Rathbone on the attack in the first half for Rotherham. Picture by Kerrie Beddows

The League One leaders were behind at half-time but bossed the second half and got the equaliser they deserved with a special 25-yard strike from Ollie Rathbone with 15 miutes to go.

The draw leaves them in pole position, still six points ahead of the Latics who have two games in hand, while the gap between them and third-paced MK Dons is up to 12 points.

The home side dominated possession and territory after the break but Wigan defended better than any other visiting team at New York this season.

Both sets of fans sang promotion songs during a proper battle between the best two outfits in the division.

Rotherham looked slightly the more dangerous side in the opening stages but were let down by the accuracy of their final ball.

Neither goalkeeper was troubled but the majority of the play was in the visitors' half.

After fears the match might have to be postponed because of strong winds, Storm Eunice had abated and the contest was played in good conditions.

A sell-out crowd, with 2,000 fans crossing the Pennines to cheer on the Latics, were watching a hard-fought contest in which both sides were defending solidly.

The visitors went in front on 28 minutes when Stephen Humphrys took aim from outside the area and fizzed a shot across goal and into the bottom corner.

Curtis Tilt was making his first New York appearance since his move to Rotherham from Blackpool in January 2020.

The centre-half was in the colours of new club Wigan, whom he joined on a permanent deal last month having failed to ever wear a home shirt in his two years in South Yorkshire.

He was one of the visitors' best players as a big defensive effort kept the Millers at bay.

Paul Warne's men had plenty of promising moments but no real attempts on goal to show for their efforts and went in behind at the interval for the first time in a league match this season.

The manager had made just one change from the side that had won the South Yorkshire derby at the expense of Sheffield Wednesday 2-0 at the weekend.

Rathbone, the midfielder whose half-time introduction had done much to swing the Hillsborough clash in the Millers' favour, was handed a starting role as Jamie Lindsay dropped to the bench.

Five minutes after the restart, Freddie Ladapo has a shot on the turn blocked, yet Rotherham continued to be too wasteful with their crossing as they strived for an equaliser.

The Latics were getting their heads to everything in defence but Rotherham wouldn't let up and came close to levelling the scores.

It needed a good save from Ben Amos to keep out Michael Smith's 54th-minute shot from Ben Wiles' pull-back, although the reaction of the striker was one of a player who knew he should have scored.

The game had a real edge to it now. Richard Wood and Tilt exchanged unpleasantries, Jordi Osei-Tutu ran on for a home debut, Chiedozie Ogbene was coming into the game more and more and Michael Ihiekwe missed at the back post from the wing-back's cross.

A goal was coming and it duly arrived in the 75th minute when Rathbone stepped forward and beat Amos all ends up with his stunning long-ranger.

The Millers stayed on the attack and Smith wasn't far away from connecting with Ogbene's low cross.

The draw ended a run of six straight league victories but Rotherham move on with their momentum intact and another step nearer to promotion.

Rotherham (3-5-2): Josh Vickers; Michael Ihiekwe, Richard Wood, Wes Harding; Chiedozie Ogbene, Ben Wiles, Dan Barlaser, Ollie Rathbone, Shane Ferguson (Jordi Osei-Tutu 60); Michael Smith, Freddie Ladapo (Josh Kayode 71). Subs not used: Viktor Johansson, Angus MacDonald, Jamie Lindsay, Hakeem Odoffin, Tolaji Bola.

Wigan (3-4-2-1): Ben Amos; Jason Kerr, Jack Whatmough, Curtis Tilt; Gavin Massey, Max Power, Tom Naylor, James McClean (Tendayi Darikwa 78); Callum Lang, Stephen Humphrys (Will Keane 71); Josh Magennis (Glen Rea 84). Subs not used: Jamie Jones, Kell Watts, Gwion Edwards, Graeme Shinnie.

Goals: Rathbone 75 (Rotherham); Humphrys 28 (Wigan).

Referee: Jeremy Simpson (Lancashire).

Attendance: 10,588 (2,003).