On-the-whistle report: Four-goal Millers advance in Trophy ... Rotherham United 4 Scunthorpe United 1

Will Grigg scores. Picture by Dave PoucherWill Grigg scores. Picture by Dave Poucher
Will Grigg scores. Picture by Dave Poucher
ROTHERHAM United hit the goal trail to progress to the knockout stages of the Papa John's Trophy despite a lack-lustre display against League Two's bottom club tonight.

The Millers, promotion contenders in League One, swept into an early two-goal lead at wet, windy AESSEAL New York Stadium and then struck twice in the closing stages against Scunthorpe United.

But it was a uninspiring evening for Rotherham who were second best for long spells of a clash watched by a sparse crowd.

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Will Grigg scored his third goal in three matches, Freddie Ladapo added a second, Hakeem made the game safe after Scunthorpe had threatened a comeback and Michael Smith, also bagging his third in three games, completed the victory.

The Millers, still with a game to play in the group stages, are all but mathematically certain of their continued presence in the tournament.

They were ahead after only eight minutes thanks to some superb penalty-area craft from Grigg.

Wes Harding's cross from the right picked him out and the loanee adjusted his feet in a flash to send a cushioned volley beyond goalkeeper Rory Watson.

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Ten minutes later, with rain falling heavily for the second successive match, Jake Hull got on the end of another Harding delivery and powered a header over the bar.

Ladapo was more accurate soon afterwards as he doubled the Millers' advantage. Tolaji Bola lifted a clever, little cross into the area and the striker's head did the rest.

Scunthorpe, who had tried and failed from distance a couple of times, should have reduced the arrears on the half-hour mark and Rotherham were grateful to keeper Josh Vickers who saved well from Ryan Loft as the forward bore down on goal.

Only the East Stand at New York was open and fans huddled against the downpour as the Millers sat back too much and allowed the visitors possession and territory.

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It was the home team who threatened next, Grigg meeting a 44th-minute Harding cross close in but sending the ball over the bar.

However, Vickers was called into action again, this time to deny Jordan Hallam Scunthorpe a goal they deserved after their lively response to falling two goals behind.

After their exertions in the league, Rotherham had taken the chance to rest several key men and also had three players on international duty.

They still fielded a strong side and Ladapo and Grigg were paired up front while first-team regulars Michael Ihiekwe, Dan Barlaser and Rarmani Edmonds-Green were also in the starting 11.

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Youngster Hull was at centre-half after his scoring debut at Doncaster Rovers last month in this competition.

Millers old boy Manny Onariase, whose stay at New York between 2017 and 2019 amounted to only two appearances, was in the visitors' backline.

Rotherham were as lethargic after the break as they had been in the latter stages of the first half and Loft, who had caused them problems all evening, played in Devarn Green who shot over for The Iron in the 60th minute.

Manager Paul Warne responding by making three substitutions to fire up his side but Scunthorpe hauled themselves back into the contest on 65 minutes as Loft finished off Harry Wood's searching low cross.

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The subs had made Rotherham stronger, though, and Odoffin swept the ball home from outside the area with seven minutes remaining before Smith fired in the fourth in stoppage time.

Not a vintage night by any means for the Millers who have been so good in the league, but a win is a win.

Rotherham (3-4-1-2): Josh Vickers; Rarmani Edmonds-Green, Jake Hull (Ollie Rathbone 61), Michael Ihiekwe; Wes Harding, Hakeem Odoffin, Dan Barlaser (Ben Wiles 61), Tolaji Bola; Kieran Sadlier; Freddie Ladapo, Will Grigg (Michael Smith 61). Subs not used: Viktor Johansson, Jacob Gratton, Curtis Durose, Nathan Exton.

Scunthorpe (4-4-2): Rory Watson; Ross Millen, Manny Onariase, Harry Davis, Lewis Thompson; Devarn Green, Harry Wood (Tom Pugh 76), Alfie Beeston, Miles Hippolyte; Ryan Loft (Aaron Jarvis 72), Jordan Hallam (Hayden Hackney 84). Subs not used: Tom Collins, Mason O'Malley, George Taft, Alex Perry.

Goals: Grigg 8, Ladapo 20, Odoffin 83, Smith 90+1 (Rotherham); Loft 65 (Scunthorpe).

Referee: Andrew Kitchen (Durham).

Attendance: 1,439 (134).