DEFENDER Joe Mattock pounced in stoppage time to hand Rotherham United a deserved win over top-end rivals Portsmouth amidst chaotic scenes at the AESSEAL New York Stadium.
After a tight first half, the Millers pinned Pompey back and their non-stop pressure was rewarded right at the death when Mattock headed the only goal of the game.
The result stretched Rotherham’s unbeaten run to eight games and made for a miserable homecoming for Kenny Jackett, back at the club he managed for only 39 days in 2016 before his shock resignation.
The importance of the fixture was reflected in the first half, with neither team giving the other much room to play.
Pompey looked the likelier to make the breakthrough. Kal Naismith and Brett Pitman could both have done better from close-range chances and Marek Rodak beat away a drive from Jamal Lowe.
It took half-an-hour before Rotherham mounted their first threat, David Ball testing the visiting keeper Luke McGee with a shot on the turn which was deflected over.
The Millers looked a different sidew after the break. Will Vaulks saw his goal-bound header blocked by a team-mate and his follow up by a defender. Skipper Richard Wood sprayed wide from the resulting corner.
Warne switched it up, bringing on Joe Newell and striker Michael Smith, the new arrival from Bury, and he saw plenty of the ball and caused problems with his height.
Rotherham had Pompey pinned back for long periods at the kop end and in fairness the visitors defended well, throwing bodies in the way of countless shots until their resistance was finally broken.
Smith, facing his old club, whipped in a centre and Mattock popped up to gleefully nod in from close range.
The result lifts Rotheham to seventh, just outside the play-off frame.
Millers: Rodak, Emmanuel, Mattock, Wood, Ajayi, Forde (Taylor 82), Vaulks, Towell, Williams (Newell 65), Yates (Smith 65), Ball
Portsmouth: McGee, Thompson, Burgess, Clarke, Deslandes (Ronan 66), Close, Donohue, Lowe, Naismith, Kennedy, Pitman (Hawkins 66)
Referee: Robert Jones (Merseyside)
Attendance: 9,129 (1,471 visitors)
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