MATCH REPORT: Ball rescues New Year point for battling Millers

By David Beddows | 01/01/2018

MATCH REPORT: Ball rescues New Year point for battling Millers

ROTHERHAM United struck late on through David Ball to take a deserved point from high-flying Blackburn Rovers.

The striker’s third goal in as many games pegged back the visitors after they’d taken the lead midway through the second half in what was an absorbing New Year’s Day contest at a rain-lashed AESSEAL New York Stadium.

The Millers had the better of the first half with the visitors coming into it after half time and the result was about right on the balance of play.

The 1-1 draw stretches Rotherham’s unbeaten run to six matches and it was the fourth time in that run they have come back to earn something. It also means they have taken 14 points from a possible 18.

Given the absence of injured skipper Lee Frecklington, top scorer Kieffer Moore’s return to Ipswich and the quality of the opposition, it was a tough way to end a run of four matches in ten days for Paul Warne’s men.

They nevertheless had plenty in the energy tank and it was Will Vaulks, deputising for Frecklington in central midfield, who went close to the breakthrough with a stinger from distance that stretched goalkeeper David Raya.

It was the first excitement of an excellent first half peppered with good football and chances at both end. It took a stunning double save from Marek Rodak and then a defensive block to keep thwart Rovers. The stopper also turned over a drive from Derrick Williams.

Pressing relentlessly and not giving the visitors a minute’s peace, Rotherham looked the more threatening in the first period. Ball had a header deflected wide from a centre by rampaging right-back Josh Emmanuel and also went close with a curler.

After a lively start to the second half by the visitors, Warne freshened it up, sacrificing Jerry Yates and Ryan Williams for Jonson Clarke-Harris and Joe Newell around the hour mark.

Struggling to reach the height of the first period, the Millers slipped behind on 66 minutes. A rare moment’s hesitancy in midfield saw Richie Smallwood, on his return to the NYS, send Bradley Dack scampering clear and the Rovers dangerman made no mistake, slipping the ball past Rodak.

Rotherham went for broke late on, bringing on Michael Ihiekwe with centre-half Semi Ajayi joining Clarke-Harris and Ball up front.

Pushing forward in the sheeting rain, the Millers got their reward in the 89th minute. Anthony Forde swing in a corner, Vaulks headed towards goal and Ball was on hand to turn the ball in at the far post.

Rovers were pressed back further in stoppage time and of the two teams they were the more relieved to hear the final whistle before an appreciate 9,000 plus crowd.

Millers: Rodak; Emmanuel, Williams, Ajayi, Wood (Ihiekwe 82); Forde, Vaulks, Towell, Williams (Newell 58); Yates (Clarke-Harris 58), Ball

Blackburn: Raya, Caddis (Nyambe 64), Downing, Mulgrew (c), Williams, Smallwood, Evans, Bennett, Dack, Conway (Samuel 64), Graham

Referee: Martin Coy (Co. Durham)

Attendance: 9,347 (1,821 visitors)

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