On-the-whistle report: Rotherham United 2 Nottingham Forest 1

By Paul Davis | 06/04/2019

On-the-whistle report: Rotherham United 2 Nottingham Forest 1
Michael Smith scores. Picture by Steve Mettam

BATTLING Rotherham United remain firmly in the hunt for Championship survival after triumphing in the game they had to win at AESSEAL New York Stadium.

The Millers saw off the challenge of play-off-chasing Nottingham Forest with a goal in each half and, although they remain third from bottom, they are within a point of Reading and Millwall and only two behind Wigan Athletic.

Michael Ihiekwe scored the winner with a header in the 60th minute and Rotherham kept Martin O'Neill's visitors at bay in a tense finale when the home fans really got behind their side.

Supporters and players all knew how much this result mattered in the bid for safety.

Rotherham took a tenth-minute lead when Will Vaulks' long throw reached Michael Smith at the back post. The striker took a touch and then shot past Costel Pantilimon for his first goal since New Year's Day.

As early as the third minute, the Millers had a huge shout for a penalty turned down, virtually every home player appealing as Richie Towell's fierce volley appeared to hit the hand of Ben Watson.

On four minutes, Rotherham had a let-off, Yohan Bealouane's back-heel hitting the woodwork and rolled along the goalline, and they escaped again after 24 minutes when old boy Lewis Grabban was denied by the post following Matty Cash's long throw.

Two minutes later, Grabban had better luck when he was clean through, equalising at the second attempt after his initial shot was saved by Marek Rodak.

Rodak pulled off a stunning save, low to his left, to foil the same player eight minutes into the second half, and the Millers should have been in front soon after when Semi Ajayi somehow headed Vaulks' cross wide.

Ihiekwe showed Ajayi how it should be done on the hour mark, burying an emphatic header into the top corner for a 2-1 lead after Smith had headed back Joe Newell's cross.

The visitors pushed, but the Millers broke in the 74th minute and Jon Taylor stung the hands of Pantilimon after being fed by Vaulks.

Paul Warne's men survived four minutes of time added on without trouble to clinch a famous victory.

Rotherham (4-1-4-1): Marek Rodak; Billy Jones, Michael Ihiekwe, Richard Wood, Joe Mattock; Semi Ajayi; Jon Taylor, Will Vaulks, Richie Towell, Joe Newell; Michael Smith. Unused: Lewis Price, Anthony Forde, Matt Crooks, Kyle Vassell.
Subs: Clark Robertson (for Mattock, H-T), Ben Wiles (for Jones, 69), Ryan Williams (for Taylor, 80).

Forest (4-4-2): Costel Pantilimon; Saidy Janko, Molla Wague, Yohan Benalouane, Ben Osborne; Joe Lolley, Ben Watson, Jack Colback, Matty Cash; Lewis Grabban, Daryl Murphy. Unused: Luke Steele, Jack Robinson, Claudio Yacob, Karim Ansarifard.

Subs: Pele (for Watson, 69), Arvin Appiah (for Janko, 76), Joao Carvalhal (for Osborn, 76).

Goals: Smith 10, Ihiekwe 60 (Rotherham); Grabban 28 (Forest).

Referee: Stephen Martin (Staffordshire).

Attendance: 11,012 (2,616).


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