MATCH REPORT: Millers give Villa a stern test

BATTLING Rotherham United gave big-spending Aston Villa a stern test before emerging empty-handed from a highly entertaining clash at the New York Stadium.

Paul Warne’s men defended stubbornly for long periods and created one or two moments of panic for the visitors before finally being worn down in the last 25 minutes, conceding to a Will Vauks own goal and a Jonathan Kodjia strike.

The 2-0 defeat was the eighth in the last nine for the Championship’s bottom side.

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Villa could have been out of sight by half time but were held up by some gritty defending. Birkir Bjarnason was foiled in a goalmouth scramle and Lewis Price had to go full stretch to deny former Barnsley man Conor Hourihane and then stood tall to deny Albert Adomah when a mistake by Aimen Belaid gave the forward a clear run to goal.

Reduced to sporadic attacks, Rotherham’s best opening of the half coming when Tom Adeyemi’s header was nodded off the line by Jonathan Kodjia, and after that it took an acrobatic goalline clearance from Belaid to stop Adomah lobbing Villa into the lead just before the break.

Top scorer Danny Ward, presumably injured, had to make way for skipper Lee Frecklington for the second half, leaving Jerry Yates to lead the line alone up front. The Millers stopped the flow of Villa chances until falling behind on 68 minutes to a goal that summed up their bad luck lately. Kodjia put in a low centre in Vaulks, under pressure, could only put the ball into the root of his own net.

Villa looked for a second goal, with Jordan Amavi thwarted by Price and Hourihane shoving a great chance the wrong side of a post. That  left the Millers still in with a chance and they had a real go late on. Anthony Forde’s drive demanded a good save and they forced one or two close calls in the Villa box before Kodjia finished off a breakaway three minuted time to put the matter beyond doubt.

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Millers: Price, Kelly (Smallwood 18), Purrington, Ajayi, Belaid, Forde, Adeyemi, Vaulks, Taylor (Newell 59), Ward (Frecklington 46), Yates

Aston Villa: Johnstone, Hutton, Taylor, Baker, Chester, Adomah, Hourinhane, Lansbury, Bjarnason (Grealish 33, Amavi 43), Jedinak, Kodjia (Davis 88)

Referee: Stephen Martin (Staffordshire)

Attendance: 10,720 (2,567 visitors)