Battling Millers pegged back by Stoke in TV cracker

ROTHERHAM United let a two-goal lead slip and were forced to settle for a point from a cracking contest with Stoke City in front of the TV cameras.

A Ryan Manning penalty and a Richie Towell strike, both in the first five minutes of the second half, put the Millers in control but Tom Ince replied and Bojan pounced in the 85th minute to square things up at 2-2.

The award of a throw-in to Stoke in the lead up to the equaliser when the ball didn’t appear to go out of play left the bitter taste for the home camp. All the TV evidence suggested as such, adding to the drama for the armchair supporters and an enthralled crowd at the AESSEAL New York Stadium.

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The first half settled into a pattern like so many other matches this season, with opposition dominating the ball and Rotherham looking to strike on the break.

Benik Afobe will still be wondering why he didn’t score in the opening 45 minutes. He was twice denied by Rodak and then saw his glancing header from a peach of a ball in from Erik Pieters hit the angle of post and bar. Rodak also did well to turn over a dipping volley from Welsh international Joe Allen in between some superb defensive work from the blossoming Semi Ajayi.

Rotherham’s only real chance of the first period came from a mistake by Stoke and England goalkeeper Jack Butland, presenting the ball to Manning and allowing him a punt at an unguarded goal. His effort hit the side netting.

Despite the millions pounds worth of talent in their ranks, Stoke arrived level on points with the Millers and their vulnerability was exposed soon after half time.

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Joe Newell battles it and (top) Richie Towell celebrates his goal. Pictures: TREVOR PRICE

First Ryan Williams wriggled into the box and brought a foul from Ashley Williams. Manning stuck his penalty into the same corner, low down to the keeper’s left, as he did in the last home game against Derby.

Stoke were only just digesting that blow when Rotherham struck again on 50 minutes. Joe Newell swung in a corner, Richard Wood headed towards goal and Towell got in to make sure it crossed the line in front of a jubilant kop.

Just as the Millers were starting to feeling comfortable, they were pegged back on 58 minutes. Pieters centred and Ince did well to guide the ball beyond the reach of Rodak.

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Allen hit the top of the crossbar for the visitors as the match swung from end to end.  Such was the depth of talent in the Stoke ranks, they were able to introduce Peter Crouch and Charlie Adam from the bench but it was another sub, Bojan, who headed them level on 85 minutes despite those doubts about the preceding thrown-in.

On the face of it, a good point for the Millers and a great show after back-to-back away defeats but they will still be wondering about the two that got away.

Millers: Rodak, Jones, Ajayi, Wood (Vyner 55), Mattock; Williams, Vaulks, Towell, Manning, Newell (Taylor 68); Smith

Stoke: Butland, Pieters, Williams, Etebo (Bojan 65), Martins Indi, Allen (Adam 81), Martina, Woods, Berahino (Crouch 81), Ince, Afobe

Referee: David Webb

Attendance: 9,706 (1,811 visitors).

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