Millers made to hold on ... on-the-whistle report: Shrewsbury Town 0 Rotherham United 0

TABLE-TOPPING Rotherham United were kept goalless for the first time in 11 outings as they ground out a point at Shrewsbury Town this evening.
Michael Ihiekwe on the ball in the first half. Picture by Jim BrailsfordMichael Ihiekwe on the ball in the first half. Picture by Jim Brailsford
Michael Ihiekwe on the ball in the first half. Picture by Jim Brailsford

The Millers had to survive a second-half assault from Salop to remain unbeaten since early January.

A win for closest rivals Wigan Athletic cut the gap at the summit of League One from nine point to seven but Paul Warne's men are now ten clear of third-placed MK Dons who are the visitors to AESSEAL New York Stadium on Saturday.

Rotherham, who were kept in the contest by goalkeeper Josh Vickers, were glad to escape with a point and their momentum intact on a night when a much-changed side gave one of their poorest displays of the campaign.

It took just 25 seconds from kick-off for the 'Magic' song to ring out as away fans reminded Shrewsbury about the two goals captain Richard Wood bagged against them in the 2018 League One Play-off Final.

The skipper set up Michael Smith with a cushioned header from Michael Ihiekwe's cross in the eighth minute but the top scorer fluffed his lines in front of goal before Ollie Rathbone drove wide.

Midway through the half it was Fredde Ladapo's turn to spurn an opportunity, failing to convert from close range after being slipped in by Rathbone's pass.

The teams were meeting for the first time this season, the original November fixture having been postponed because of the number of international call-ups in the Millers camp.

They will see each other again soon as the return fixture takes place before March is out.

On a cold night in Shropshire, Ladapo fired a snap-shot off target when the ball fell to him in the area following another dangerous Ihiekwe delivery as the Millers dominated territory.

The Shrews had gone nine matches without a win before a 2-0 victory at Burton Albion at the weekend and began the contest 17th in the table.

Their defensive record is by far the best of all the sides in the bottom half and they were happy to invite the Millers on to them and then try to attack on the break.

Angus MacDonald, making his first start of the season, swept a shot over the bar while at the other end, as the interval approached, Ryan Bowman forced a save out of Vickers.

Led by the outstanding Rathbone, the Millers had been on top throughout the first half but headed in level at the interval.

Manager Warne had promised to freshen up his side after Saturday's 1-0 triumph at Plymouth Argyle and was good to his word, bringing in five new faces.

MacDonald came in, there was first league start for Hakeem Odoffin, and Wood, Jamie Lindsay and Jordi Osei-Tutu were also included.

Joe Mattock, Ben Wiles, Chiedozie Ogbene and Shane Ferguson dropped to the bench and Dan Barlaser missed out on a squad place completely.

Ogbene came on for the second half and within three minutes tested Marko Marosi with a curling effort as Rotherham now went towards the end housing their own supporters.

The game was heating up and soon afterwards Matthew Pennington headed a corner just wide for the Shrews before Luke Leahy let fly and wasn't far away.

George Nurse went even closer for the home team on the hour mark, rattling the post with a thunderous drive and only lightning reactions from Vickers denied Pennington on the rebound.

The Millers, under real pressure, were relieved to see Daniel Udoh sky Shrewsbury's next effort. They looked to have weathered the storm but Tom Bloxham tried his luck in the 70th minute to keep them on their toes.

Leahy headed a corner wide as the clock ticked down and then Ladapo wasted a rare second-half Millers sight of goal by glancing a header off target.

It needed near-post sharpness from Vickers to keep out Nurse's angled cross and within seconds the keeper also thwarted Bloxham.

The final whistle couldn't come soon enough for Rotherham who somehow managed to hold on to their record of conceding only five times on their league travels this season.

Shrewsbury (3-4-3): Marko Marosi; Matthew Pennington, Ethan Ebanks-Landell, Tom Flanagan; Elliott Bennett, Tyrese Fornah, Luke Leahy, George Nurse; Tom Bloxham, Ryan Bowman, Daniel Udoh (Saikou Janneh 89). Subs not used: Aaron Pierre, Harry Burgyne, Matthew Bondswell, Charlie Caton, Josh Daniels, Kade Craig.

Rotherham (3-5-2): Josh Vickers; Angus MacDonald (Joe Mattock, 79), Richard Wood, Michael Ihiekwe; Wes Harding (Chiedozie Ogbene H-T), Jamie Lindsay, Hakeem Odoffin, Ollie Rathbone (Ben Wiles H-T, Jordi Osei-Tutu; Michael Smith, Freddie Ladapo. Subs not used: Viktor Johansson, Shane Ferguson, Tolaji Bola, Josh Kayode.

Referee: Carl Brook (Sussex).

Attendance: 5,111 (496).