MATCH REPORT: Smallwood fires Millers to a rare point at Preston

Richie Smallwood puts the Millers ahead at Deepdale. Picture: Jim BrailsfordRichie Smallwood puts the Millers ahead at Deepdale. Picture: Jim Brailsford
Richie Smallwood puts the Millers ahead at Deepdale. Picture: Jim Brailsford
ROTHERHAM United collected only their second Championship away point of the season thanks to Richie Smallwood’s early strike at Preston.

The midfielder’s first Millers goal of the campaign raised early hopes of a rare away win until Stevie May equalised just before the break. The 1-1 draw was relegated Rotherham's first productive away day since taking a point at Ipswich in October but means they will end a league season without an away victory for the first time since 1932/33.

With Lee Frecklington returning to skipper the side and Jonson Clarke-Harris making his first start of the season, Paul Warne’s side played their part in a good first half.

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They also had the clearer chances after Smallwood smashed them into a ninth minute lead with a sweet half volley from  the edge of the penalty area and should have gone into the break in front.

Jon Taylor, Richard Wood and Clarke-Harris all tested gaolkeeper Chris Maxwell and Tom Adeyemi, tucked in behind lone striker Clarke-Harris, also swiped at a decent chance. However the tricky Aiden McGeady was a nuisance for Preston and they had plenty of pressure before drawing level four minutes before half time with another good goal, bent into the top corner by one-time Millers transfer target  May.

The first action of the second half saw Adeyemi’s shot on the turn demand a one-handed save while Richard O’Donnell was nearly caught out by McGeady’s deep cross.

Clarke-Harris had a strong game before limping out of the action with 18 minutes to go and while determined at the back, the Millers’ attack were increasingly let down  by a poor final pass and they were relieved when sub Simon Makienok’s looping header hit the bar late on.

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It was still a deserved  point though for a disciplined display and takes their tally to four from the last five matches.

Preston: Maxwell, Browning, Baptiste, Huntington, Spurr, Barkhuizen (, Browne, Johnson, McGeady, Hugill, May

Millers: O'Donnell; Fisher, Ajayi, Wood, Mattock; Vaulks, Smallwood, Frecklington, Taylor; Adeyemi, Clarke-Harris (Morris 72)

Referee: Robert Jones (Merseyside)

Attendance: 11,032