MATCH REPORT: Millers battle back to take a point at Oxford

Joe Newell celebrates the Millers' opener at Oxford. Picture: TREVOR PRICEJoe Newell celebrates the Millers' opener at Oxford. Picture: TREVOR PRICE
Joe Newell celebrates the Millers' opener at Oxford. Picture: TREVOR PRICE
ROTHERHAM United came back from two goals down to grab a point in a six-goal thriller at Oxford.

Trailing 3-1 late in the first half, they hit back through Ryan Williams and Kieffer Moore to secure their first draw of the season in a crazy game. Marek Rodak also saved a penalty.

In the circumstances it was a good point for the Millers, especially considering how poor they were in the first half. Again though their battling qualities were not in question.

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Skipper Lee Frecklington and defensive midfield man Darren Potter weren’t fit enough to return to the starting line-up and their absence was felt, particularly in a breathless first half which produced five goals and a penalty miss. Paul Warne's men were lucky to end it only a goal down.

They had the platform of Joe Newell’s 20th minute opener, fired in on the volley from a half-clearance, but the lead lasted barely a minute. Jack Payne played a one-two with Josh Ruffels and was allowed time to pick his spot from 20 yards.

The speed and movement of the home raiders unsettled Rotherham’s back four and it was no surprise when they added to their lead on 30 minutes. Ruffels cut inside and fire had and low past Marek, with the suspicion of a deflection.

The Slovakian stopper kept his team in the game two minutes later, keeping out a Ryan Ledson penalty awarded for deliberate handball from Will Vaulks.

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Warne won’t have been happy with the defending for Oxford’s third goal on 40 minutes. There were plenty of white shirts in the middle of a goalmouth scramble but Curtis Nelson was allowed to stab home.

Poor as they had been at the back, the Millers always carry a threat going forward and they were able to reply out of the blue just before the break. A long throw came in and Williams swooped to net from close range.

Warne resisted the temptation to make changes at half time and saw Joe Mattock have an effort turned over by Simon Eastwood not long after the restart.

It was more than an hour before Kieffer Moore had his first sight of goal and it nearly ended in an equaliser. The striker latched onto Vaulks’ long punt forward and although he managed to hook the ball over Eastwood, it struck the crossbar.

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However the top scorer was not to be denied 12 minutes from time. Newell broke and fed Williams down the left and his low centre left a simple finish. It was Moore’s 11th goal of the season.

Both sides probed for a winner but in the end had to settle for a share of the spoils.

Oxford: Eastwood, Carroll, Ricardinho, Nelson, Mousinho, Ledson, Ruffells, Payne, Mowatt (Rothwell 64), Henry, Thomas

Millers: Rodak, Emmanuel, Mattock, Ajayi, Ihiekwe, Williams, Towell (Taylor 68), Newell, Vaulks, Forde, Moore

Referee: Sebastian Stockbridge

Attendance: 7,471 (806 visitors)