Survival gap cut on a poor Millers night ... on-the-whistle report: Rotherham United 1 Preston North End 2

Jordan Hugill in first-half action for Rotherham. Picture by Kerrie BeddowsJordan Hugill in first-half action for Rotherham. Picture by Kerrie Beddows
Jordan Hugill in first-half action for Rotherham. Picture by Kerrie Beddows
ROTHERHAM United suffered a setback in their Championship survival bid as they fell to defeat against Preston North End at AESSEAL New York Stadium tonight.

The Millers had won their last two encounters on home soil but the visitors, who have hopes of gatecrashing the play-off picture, had too much for them.

The second half came and went without a single effort on target by Rotherham who saw the gap between them and the drop zone reduced by Blackpool's triumph over Queens Park Rangers.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

With nine matches left to play, Matt Taylor's men remain in 20th place but their safety cushion has dropped from eight points to five.

Rotherham dominated the early proceedings as Chiedozie Ogbene continually made inroads down the right and through the middle but several promising situations came to nothing.

Tariqe Fosu's quick feet in midfield were also troubling the visitors who were happy to slow down the game at every throw-in or whenever the ball was in their goalkeeper's hands.

Preston had arrived in South Yorkshire unbeaten in their six previous outings yet it was the Millers who continued to have the upper hand.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

That changed on 23 minutes when the Lilywhites scored against the run of play, Thomas Cannon pouncing from close range after unmarked Robbie Brady's header-back from Alan Browne's cross following a heavy touch by Fosu.

Playing against one of his former clubs, Jordan Hugill spurned a great chance to equalise just minutes later, getting himself between defenders but then heading over Wes Harding's right-flank supply.

In the sleet and cold at New York but the action on the pitch was pretty heated, with both sides competing hard and Lee Peltier and Ched Evans indulging in a touch of off-the-ball stuff.

The evening grew warmer in every kind of way for Rotherham on 35 minutes when Shane Ferguson sent in a corner and Hakeem Odoffin's head did the rest at the near post to give the home side an equaliser.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The Millers threatened again before the interval, Ogbene breaking at speed down the left and sending in a cross that Hugill would have reached had he taken the gamble of making his dart for goal earlier

At the other end, Evans was more clinical in the closing seconds of the first half, turning on the edge of the area with challenge and, with the help of a deflection, firing the ball beyond Viktor Johansson into the far corner to restore Preston's lead.

It was a bad time to concede and the fear was that the visitors' time-wasting was only going to grow worse in the second period.

Rotherham had kept the same 11 that started last Saturday's 2-0 loss at Birmingham City. The only change on the bench saw Tom Eaves replace Georgie Kelly as an attacking option.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Cannon rode the challenge of Cameron Humphreys and hit the crossbar with a dink from a tight angle on 50 minutes as Preston looked the more dangerous team after the restart.

The Millers needed to do something and manager Taylor sent on Tyler Blackett for a home debut as one of three substitutes as the formation was switched to 3-5-2.

North End remained on top, however, with Evans having a goalbound shot blocked and Bambo Diaby shooting too high from inside the six-yard box.

Hugill shot wide in the 78th minute in a rare sight of goal for Rotherham who were being well contained by one of the meanest defences in the division.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

By the final whistle, the  threat of Ogbene, Fosu and the Millers in general had long diminished and there had been no need for Preston to time-waste.

Rotherham (4-3-3): Rotherham (4-3-3): Viktor Johansson; Wes Harding (Tyler Blackett 57), Lee Peltier (Peter Kioso 73), Cameron Humphreys, Leo Hjelde (Cohen Bramall 57); Hakeem Odoffin, Conor Coventry (Jamie Lindsay 73), Tariqe Fosu; Chiedozie Ogbene, Jordan Hugill, Shane Ferguson (Conor Washington 57). Subs not used: Josh Vickers, Tom Eaves.

Preston (5-3-2): Freddie Woodman; Greg Cunnningham, Bambo Diaby, Jordan Storey; Brad Potts, Alan Browne (Josh Onomah 85), Ben Whiteman, Daniel Johnson (Ryan Ledson 79), Robbie Brady (Alvaro Fernandez 79); Ched Evans (Troy Parrott 69), Tom Cannnon (Liam Delap 85). Subs not used: David Cornell, Andrew Hughes.

Goals: Odoffin 35 (Rotherham); Cannon 23, Evans 45+2 (Preston).

Referee: Stephen Martin (Staffordshire).

Attendance: 9,003 (723).