The promotion bandwagon rolls again ... on-the-whistle report: Rotherham United 1 Ipswich Town 0

ROTHERHAM United threw down the promotion gautlet to MK Dons with a stirring win at home to Ipswich Town this afternoon.
Ben Wiles in first-half action. Picture by Dave PoucherBen Wiles in first-half action. Picture by Dave Poucher
Ben Wiles in first-half action. Picture by Dave Poucher

The Millers went into the clash on the back of three successive League One defeat but returned to form just when they needed to.

Victory, courtesy of Michael Smith's 25th goal of the campaign, lifted them back into the top two at the expense of MK who face Sheffield Wednesday this evening.

They left it until the 77th minute to make the breakthrough, which served only to make the triumph even sweeter.

It was the perfect response at the perfect time after a run of only one win in their last seven second-tier outings.

Ipswich arrived in South Yorkshire still harbouring play-off hopes but could have no complaints at their defeat after being dominated by the home team after the break.

New York was at fever pitch early on as the crowd, realising how much this game mattered, got behind their side.

Rotherham were attacking the North Stand and were denied a third-minute lead when Wes Harding's goalbound shot from Smith's headed supply was blocked.

Soon afterwards Michael Ihiekwe sent a header wide as the Millers made a bright start before the home side had a huge let-off.

Wes Burns crossed from the right in the eighth minute and James Norwood somehow failed to hit the target from point-blank range.

Rotherham suffered a blow on 23 minutes when wing-back Mickel Miller had to go off injured, which meant a switch in formation.

Chiedozie Ogbene had started up front with Smith but was moved to the right, with Jordi Osei-Tutu taking Miller's spot on the left and midfielder Ben Wiles pushing further forward.

Wiles shot for goal but was thwarted by a block as some of the quality went out of the contest.

It was a warm, sunny day but there was no let-up in effort from either side and Ollie Rathbone was the next Millers player to shoot only to see an Ipswich body get in the way.

Rotherham's support continued to be vocal as their side pressed for a breakthrough while Town looked to attack quickly on the break.

As half-time approached, Bersant Celina's two-handed, off-the-ball push sent Rathbone tumbling to the ground but referee Peter Wright deemed it worthy only of a yellow card.

The Millers hadn't scored in their previous three league outings so that was why manager Paul Warne had freshened things up by trying Ogbene down the middle.

Rarmani Edmonds-Green was selected in a three-man backline as skipper Richard Wood dropped to the bench and Dan Barlaser, so good earlier in the campaign, lost his midfield place after a poor run of form.

Barlaser's exile as a short one as he was the player who replaced the unlucky Miller.

Smith headed wide five minutes after the restart, Ogbene was inches away from heading in Osei-Tutu's cross and Edmonds-Green drove a shot a yard off target as the Millers began the second half strongly.

Smith almost got on the end of a Barlaser free-kick before Sone Aluko was the second Town player to escape a sending-off when he was only cautioned for a high challenge on Viktor Johansson.

The Millers goalkeeper recovered well enough to pull off a stunning save after Luke Woolfenden had run the length of the field and Burns went for goal from the edge of the area.

Rotherham thought they had taken the lead in the 73rd minute as Smith's header from Barlaser's corner looked to be going in but Christian Walton pulled off a sharp, close-range save.

Four minutes later they had taken the lead and it was that man, Smith, rifling the ball into the far corner after Osei-Tutu's shot from Wes Harding's long throw had been blocked.

The Millers negotiated nine added minutes - during which time Smith headed over - and are now on the same number of points - 83 - as MK with a better goal difference.

Rotherham (3-5-2): Viktor Johansson; Rarmani Edmonds-Green, Michael Ihiekwe, Wes Harding; Jordi Osei-Tutu (Richard Wood 90), Jamie Lindsay, Ben Wiles, Ollie Rathbone, Mickel Miller (Dan Barlaser 23); Chiedozie Ogbene, Michael Smith. Subs not used: Josh Chapman, Joe Mattock, Shane Ferguson, Freddie Ladapo, Josh Kayode.

Ipswich (3-5-2): Christian Walton; Janoi Donacien, Luke Woolfenden, Elkan Baggott; Wes Burns, Tyreeq Bakinson, Sam Morsy, Bersant Celina (Joe Pigott 79), Dominic Thompson; Sone Aluko (Conor Chaplin 66), James Norwood (Macauley Bonne 66). Subs not used: Vaclav Hladky, Matt Penney, Idris El Mizouni, Tom Carroll.

Goals: Michael Smith 77 (Rotherham).

Referee: Peter Wright (Merseyside)

Attendance: 9,394 (1,087).

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