MATCH REPORT: Five wins on the spin as Millers beat Oxford

Celebrations...after Richie Towell's goal. Pic: STEVE METTAMCelebrations...after Richie Towell's goal. Pic: STEVE METTAM
Celebrations...after Richie Towell's goal. Pic: STEVE METTAM
IT’S five straight wins now for Rotherham United after despatching a game Oxford United side at the AESSEAL New York Stadium.

Two goals in the opening half-hour from Anthony Forde and Richie Towell put the men in red in control.  Oxford pulled a goal back just before the break but Michael Smith struck to earn a 3-1 cushion the Millers worked hard to protect.

Now unbeaten in 12 matches, the three points take Paul Warne’s side up to fourth place in League One.

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Like in so many matches lately, Rotherham were quick out of the traps in what turned into a high-intensity, very watchable game.

Towell and Will Vaulks both went close and Semi Ajayi forced a goalline clearance before the deadlock was broken on seven minutes.

David Ball set Forde free and his rasping shot into the top corner gave Simon Eastwood no chance.

The Oxford stopper then kept his team in it with one of the saves of the season, somehow clawing Smith’s close-range header onto the inside of the post.

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Eastwood though was beaten again on 29 minutes as Rotherham continued to swarm forward. He could only parry Joe Newell’s shot and Towell tucked away the loose ball.

It took Oxford more than half-an-hour to mount their first serious threat and it should have resulted in a goal. Isaac Buckley-Ricketts was sent racing clear but Marek Rodak did well to deflect his effort just wide of the far post.

Anthony Forde thrashes in the opener.

Just when the night looked straight-forward, the visitors pulled a goal back just before half time. James Henry worked himself space in the penalty area and smashed an unstoppable shot into the top corner

There was still time for a big penalty shout before the break when Ball went to ground under a challenge with an open goal gaping, leaving the Millers slightly frustrated.

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That frustration was lifted seven minutes after the restart. Forde, so good on the night, made a surging into the box and his low centre was clipped in by Smith.

The game became stretched, end to end, and defenders had to be on their toes. Managerless Oxford had some willing and nimble raiders and never stopped asking questions.

Ryan Ledson’s dipping effort from distance was tipped over at full stretch by Rodak and the Millers really had to work to the finish. They also forced openings of their own in the closing stages of what was another fine advert for League One.

Millers: Rodak, Emmanuel, Mattock (Ihiekwe 38), Wood, Ajayi, Forde, Vaulks, Towell, Newell (Taylor 79), Ball (Lavery 72) Smith

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Oxford: Eastwood, Ledson, Ruffels, Dickie, Henry, Rothwell (Ricardinho 72), Kane, Smith-Brown, Mousinho, Buckley-Rickett (Carroll 64), Thomas (Mehmeti 60)

Referee: Eddie Ilderton (Tyne & Wear)

Attendance: 7,707 (360 visitors)