MATCH REPORT: Vaulks strike moves Millers to brink of play-offs

Head over heels...Will Vaulks celebrates his first-half winner. Pics: TREVOR PRICEHead over heels...Will Vaulks celebrates his first-half winner. Pics: TREVOR PRICE
Head over heels...Will Vaulks celebrates his first-half winner. Pics: TREVOR PRICE
A PLAY-OFF place is just about in the bag for Rotherham United after tonight’s tight win at Gillingham.

Will Vaulks struck the only goal of the game in the first half to hand Paul Warne’s men the points, although the margin of victory should have been much wider. They spurned several good chances in the second half.

Still, few could deny the victory went to the best team and with three games to go the Millers really can start thinking about the end-of-season shootout. They stand nine points clear of seventh-placed Plymouth tonight.

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Unchanged from Saturday’s draw at Wigan, they had to do some defending early on before relieving the pressure in the perfect way on 20 minutes.

Josh Emmanuel’s cross fell to Michael Smith and he teed-up up Vaulks to fire hard and low into the bottom corner before treating the small band of travelling supporters to his somersault celebration.

Gillingham, locked in mid-table, might not have much to play for but they were combative, physical opponents and thought they’d equalised through Josh Parker’s header, only for a flag to go up for offside.

The goal gave the Millers a toe hold and Richie Towell drilled a shot straight at goalkeeper Tomas Holy in the run-up to half time.

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After a pep talk in the dressing room, Rotherham went straight back on the attack. Richard Wood, not known for clever his clever footwork, despatched a delicious drive that demanded a finger-tip save.

The match should have been sewn up on 67 minutes. Vaulks slipped Ryan Williams clean through on goal and with only the keeper to beat, the Aussie pulled his shot wide of the far post. Williams also flicked a header wide but the biggest miss of all came from Michael Smith, stabbing wide from just six yards when it looked easier to score.

Although Gillingham were kept in check, there was late danger when Luke O’Neill curled a free-kick wide and Marek Rodak was forced to save Jake Hessenthaler’s shot at the second attempt.

It wasn’t a vintage show by the Millers but nevertheless an effective one and they are well entrenched in fourth spot in League One with only three games to go.

Millers: Rodak, Emmanuel, Purrington, Ihiekwe, Wood, Taylor (Forde 76), Palmer, Vaulks, Towell (Ajayi 64), Williams, Smith (Lavery 81)

Referee: Dean Whitestone

Attendance: 4,029 (162 visitors)