|Rotherham United 1 v 0 Ipswich Town|
Saturday, 11th August 2018 Kick-off 15:00
Rotherham United 1-0 Ipswich Town - Match Report
Saturday, 11th Aug 2018 17:18
Michael Smith netted a 90th minute winner as Paul Hurst’s Blues were beaten 1-0 by his old club Rotherham United at the New York Stadium. Town had been on top for most of game and were denied two very strong penalty claims before the Millers’ striker hooked home following a corner.
Toto Nsiala and Jon Nolan were handed their Blues debuts from the start with this week’s other new signing Kayden Jackson on the bench.
Nsiala, who joined from Shrewsbury in a joint-£2 million deal along with Nolan on Wednesday, was at centre-half with skipper Luke Chambers, while Janoi Donacien and Jonas Knudsen were the full-backs.
In midfield, Cole Skuse and Trevoh Chalobah filled the deeper roles with former Millers loanee Grant Ward back from suspension and on the left of the trio ahead of them instead of Freddie Sears, who dropped to the bench.
Gwion Edwards was on the right with Nolan in the centre and Ellis Harrison continuing as the lone striker. Rotherham included ex-Town keeper Lewis Price on their bench.
Prior to kick-off there was a minute’s applause for Barry Chuckle, a Rotherham life president, and former club chairman Syd Wood, who both died this week.
Town threatened first in the second minute from a quickly taken Donacien throw on the right. The St Lucian found Edwards, who crossed low but Zak Vyner nipped in ahead of Harrison and the ball was subsequently turned behind for a corner. From the flag-kick, Nsiala volleyed well wide.
The Blues quickly went on the offensive again, Harrison escaping down the right and crossing for Nolan, whose shot from the edge of the box was deflected behind for a second corner.
Town continued to dominate the early stages and in the 10th minute Chalobah found Edwards with a superb crossfield pass. The Welshman took the ball into the area but lost his footing as he sought to turn his man, preventing what might have been a terrific goal.
The Blues should have gone in front in the 20th minute when an Nsiala freekick from inside his own half found Harrison, who held off his man and tried to take the ball round Millers’ keeper Marek Rodak, who thwarted the Welshman with an outstretched hand.
Town had dominated possession and controlled the game with all the chances at the Rotherham end. The only occasional moments of concern for the Blues were largely self-inflicted but with Bartosz Bialkowski still untested.
In the 23rd minute Nolan felt he should have been awarded a penalty when he cut in from the left and appeared to be brought down by one-time Town trialist Semi Ajayi. But referee David Webb, who had failed to give one or two earlier clear freekicks much the annoyance of both sets of fans, wasn’t interested. The Blues new number 11 looked to have a very decent case.
A minute later, from a deep corner from the right, Edwards smashed an overhead kick against a defender.
Town kept pressing and as the half hour approached Donacien hit a powerful strike from the edge of the box which Ajayi diverted over the bar.
Rotherham began to see more of the ball as the half moved into its final 10 minutes but still without creating an opportunity.
On 38 Knudsen sold Chambers short with a pass allowing Kyle Vassell to send away Jon Taylor down the right but Nsiala got across to dispossess the Millers’ midfielder and cleared.
Three minutes later, Edwards dispossessed the hesitant Joe Mattock on the right but played his pass to Harrison too far in front of the striker. A minute later, Matt Palmer was fouled for tripping Ward as he burst into the home side’s half.
In the 44th minute, after good work from Nolan, Chalobah cleverly threaded in Knudsen on the left of the box but keeper Rodak did well to save the Danish international’s save down to his left.
Rotherham managed their first shot on target in the final scheduled minute of the half but Taylor’s deflected strike following Vyner’s long thrown bounced harmlessly through to Bialkowski.
There was just time for one more Town corner, which Rodak claimed, before an entertaining half was brought to an end.
The Blues had had much the better of it, dominating possession, and really ought to have gone in ahead having created virtually all the chances.
Harrison’s one-on-one was the best opportunity, while it also took an impressive save from Rodak to stop Knudsen’s late effort. Nolan’s penalty claim also looked very credible.
At the other end, occasional moments of Town indecision had largely led to the few occasions on which the Millers had threatened, but Bialkowski hadn’t been forced into a serious save.
Manager Hurst, who spent virtually all his entire playing career with the Millers, will have been happy with the display aside from the lack of a goal.
Early in the half, Skuse made a rare foray into the penalty area - although the Bristolian is afforded far more freedom to get forward under Hurst - and looped a header wide after Harrison had nodded across the box to him.
At the other end, Vassell found himself space on the left of the box and hit a low shot which Bialkowski did well to claim down to his left.
Soon after, Chambers misjudged a ball over the top - with the breeze perhaps a factor - and Smith was able to hit a shot which fortunately flew into the side-netting.
Town chances had become rarer but on 57 Nolan found some space on the edge of the box but scuffed his shot well wide.
Skuse saw a strike blocked, then in the 62nd minute Nolan hit a powerful effort from distance which flew not too far wide right in front of the travelling Town support.
The Blues began to put the Millers under pressure, winning a succession of corners but without being able to create a significant chance.
On 67 Jackson was handed his debut for Harrison, who had battled gamely with the very impressive Ajayi all game. Rotherham, who had already swapped Joe Newell for Ryan Williams, switched Taylor for Anthony Forde.
There was a worrying moment for the Blues on 71 when Bialkowski was unable to get to Will Vaulks’s freekick as he looked to punch and it was deflected wide to Vassell, who hit a goalbound shot into ground which Nsiala headed off the line.
Match Gallery: 7 photos
At the other end, a Nolan strike was blocked, then Jackson played the loose ball wide but was fouled by Vaulks, who was booked.
Edwards took the freekick and curled the ball perfectly towards the top corner only for Rodak to get across to paw it away.
Soon after, as the clock moved past 73, there was a further tribute to Barry Chuckle with opposition fans exchanging the famous 'To me, to you' catchphrase before a further round of applause.
On 75 Nolan sent Jackson away on the right - although with a hint of offside - but Millers’ skipper Richard Wood got across to slide the ball behind. Two minutes later, Tayo Edun took over from Ward.
In the 80th minute Jackson hit a snap-shot on the turn which was too close to Rodak, then Jordan Roberts was handed his Blues debut for Edwards, who had out in another lively display.
With five minutes of scheduled time remaining the Blues were denied their second penalty claim of the afternoon, this one even stronger than the first.
Chalobah played a great ball into the path of Roberts as he broke into the area and the sub was felled by Mattock. It looked as clear a spot-kick as you’ll see but both referee Webb and his linesman - to whom Roberts made his frustration clear - remained unmoved.
A minute later, Smith shot not too far wide for the home side, then Forde hit a effort which forced Bialkowski to save down to his left and gather at the second attempt.
And in the final scheduled minute the Millers went in front. Mattock sent over a freekick from the left, the Blues were unable to clear and the ball fell to Smith, who hooked into the top corner of the net.
Town pressed for an equaliser in four minutes of injury time - Chambers headed a corner straight at Rodak - but manager Hurst’s return to his old club ended in his first defeat as Blues boss.
The result was harsh on Town who had been the better side for most of the match and had had opportunities to take the lead, particularly in the first half, although given their dominance they will feel they ought to have created more.
Their best opportunity after the break was Edwards’s freekick which was well-saved by Rodak.
They also appeared to be denied two very good penalty claims, the second when Roberts was fouled late on looked as nailed-on as they come.
Rotherham looked more dangerous in the second half than they had in the first but still without ever really looking like they were going to claim all three points until Smith’s late goal.
Town are next in action on Tuesday when they face Exeter City in the Carabao Cup at St James’ Park.
Town: Bialkowski, Donacien, Nsiala, Chambers (c), Knudsen, Skuse, Chalobah, Edwards (Roberts 82), Nolan, Ward (Edun 77), Harrison (Jackson 67). Unused: Gerken, Spence, Sears, Kenlock.
Rotherham: Rodak, Vyner, Mattock, Vaulks, Ajayi, Wood (c), Palmer, Taylor (Forde 67), Vassell (Jones 90), Newell (Williams 62), Smith. Unused: Price, Ball, Wiles, Raggett. Referee: David Webb (Lancashire). Att: 9,460 (Town: 1,345).
Photo: Photo: Pagepix
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