|Rotherham United 1 v 0 Ipswich Town|
SkyBet League One
Tuesday, 28th January 2020 Kick-off 19:45
Rotherham United 1-0 Ipswich Town - Match Report
Tuesday, 28th Jan 2020 21:49
Rotherham skipper Richard Wood’s 42nd minute goal saw the Millers to a 1-0 victory over Town and back to the top of the table at the Blues’ expense. Wood headed home as the South Yorkshiremen dominated against an under par Town, who almost grabbed a late undeserved equaliser when sub James Norwood hit the post.
Town boss Paul Lambert named an unchanged XI for the third game in a row for the first time this season.
Will Norris was again in goal behind a back three of skipper Luke Chambers, James Wilson and Luke Woolfenden. Luke Garbutt and Gwion Edwards were the wing-backs.
In midfield, Emyr Huws and Flynn Downes were behind Alan Judge with Will Keane and Kayden Jackson the strikers. There was one change on the bench with Myles Kenlock coming in for Josh Earl.
There was a late change of referee with Antony Coggins taking over from scheduled official Marc Edwards.
Matt Crooks, who scored both goals in the Millers’ 2-0 defeat of the Blues at Portman Road in October, nodded an early header wide in a scruffy first couple of minutes.
The home side, whose direct approach was starting to pay dividends, came within an inch or two of going in front in the 11th minute when Town were caught daydreaming as Daniel Barlaser played a quick freekick into Kyle Vassell on the right of the box and the striker’s well-struck shot cannoned off the underside of the bar.
Eventually, the ball ended up behind with referee Coggins awarding a corner, wrongly according to the Town players, and from the corner Michael Smith headed straight at Norris.
Rotherham threatened again in the 18th minute when a superb cross-field pass found Hakeeb Adelakun breaking into the area on the left. However, the full-back’s first touch took the ball a little wide and Norris was able to block his attempt at goal. Following the corner, Crooks headed wide.
Town, in blue shorts, had had a frustrating first 20 minutes with a number of arguable freekick decisions going against them in what had been a very stop-start opening, while they had been unable to impose themselves on the game and get the ball down and pass it around in the manner which has become familiar in the last few games against a physical and determined Rotherham side.
As the clock passed the 25-minute mark there was a round of applause in tribute to Matlock Town player Jordan Sinnott, who was killed at the weekend. Millers midfield Crooks and his team-mates were wearing black armbands in tribute to his friend and former Huddersfield team-mate.
The game continued in much the same manner as it moved past the half-hour mark. Much of the match was being played in the Town half, but without Norris being particularly threatened, while the Blues looked to get the ball forward quickly to strikers Jackson and Keane but without success.
On 37 Crooks was shown the first yellow card of the game for hauling back Keane after the striker had found some space to break into in the Millers half.
Four minutes later, Rotherham, who had been a threat from set pieces all half, took the lead from a corner on the left.
Smith headed a deep ball played beyond the far post towards Norris, Vassell toed it against the keeper’s knee, sending it into the air and Millers’ skipper Wood nodded into the roof of the net from a matter of inches. Norris protested that he had been fouled but looked to have little case.
A minute after the goal Huws was booked for a frustrated foul on Vassell before the board was raised announcing two additional minutes.
Town won a corner in the additional time following a break forward by Downes but the flag-kick eventually came to nothing.
The home side deserved their lead at the break with Town having shown little of their recent form during the first half. The players’ frustration at their display, and a number of the refereeing decisions, was evident.
Rotherham might have gone ahead earlier through Vassell with the Blues never passing with the fluency of recent weeks and all too often looking to hit their strike pairing with early balls over the top, a tactic which had yielded no success.
The second period started much as the first had ended with Rotherham on top, however, the Millers were unable to test Norris further in the early stages.
On 54 Judge was played in on the right but his cross was far too strong for Jackson, the only Town player in the middle.
Two minutes later at the other end, an Adelakun cross from the left took a deflection and bounced across the Town area and reached the far post where it just looped over Chiedozie Ogbene, who had a spell on trial at Town in January 2018.
The Blues were unable to get out of their final third and on 58 Wilson blocked a Vassell overhead kick from a Smith knockdown.
A minute later the Millers thought they doubled their lead but referee Coggins adjudged that Wood had knocked the ball out of Norris’s hands as he headed a corner from the right home.
In the 65th minute Ogbene broke into the area on the right and hit a low shot which Norris saved at his near post. Rotherham were continuing to press with the Blues backline forced to dig deep.
Two minutes later, with Town still to make any impression on the half from an attacking perspective, James Norwood took over from Keane, then on 68 Jon Nolan replaced Huws in midfield with the Welshman perhaps worryingly limping as he left the field. Rotherham switched Crooks for Ben Wiles in the 72nd minute.
The Millers went close again on 74, Michael Ihiekwe’s header from a corner on the right ricocheting across the six-yard box with Norris just taking it away from a Rotherham foot at the far post.
Sub Wiles hit a low shot just wide, before the South Yorkshiremen swapped Vassell for Freddie Ladapo.
Rotherham struck the woodwork for the second time on the night in the 77th minute, Adelakun hitting a shot from 30 yards which beat Norris but cannoned off the bar. Soon after, Woolfenden was booked for a foul on Ogbene.
Town managed their first shot on target in the 80th minute, Judge playing in Jackson on the right of the box but the striker scuffed his effort and Iversen, virtually a spectator in the second half, claimed easily at his near post. Seconds later, Judge was replaced by Freddie Sears.
Joe Mattock was booked in the 83rd minute for pulling back Norwood as the striker broke towards goal. The Town number 10 argued it was an obvious goalscoring opportunity but referee Coggins wasn’t convinced.
Garbutt took the freekick 25 yards out and curled a strike which was dipping just under the bar until Iversen superbly tipped it over.
Rotherham replaced Adelakun with Matt Olusunde with two minutes remaining and Town huffing and puffing but not looking particularly like getting on terms.
The fourth official indicated an additional five minutes with Town finally making some impact going forward but with the Millers looking a danger on the break.
In the second minute of time added-on Norwood went within a whisker of levelling. Having been played in on the left of the six-yard box by Sears the ex-Tranmere man flicked the ball past Iversen and it struck the far post before falling to a Rotherham defender.
Moments later, Jackson appeared to be wiped out by Wood as he broke towards the area before the Rotherham skipper and Garbutt clashed, the Town man appearing to aim a kick at the veteran Millers defender.
That was the last action of a very disappointing evening for the Blues, who looked a pale shadow of the team which has impressed since the turn of the year as they fell to their first League One defeat of 2020.
Town, who struggled with the Millers' physicality throughout, failed to seriously threaten until the final minutes with the substitutions having an impact.
However, despite Norwood almost grabbing an equaliser from what seemed an impossible position, it was too little too late and Rotherham deserved the three points.
The result sees the Blues drop off the top of the table with the Millers replacing them with Peterborough United at Portman Road on Saturday.
Rotherham: Iversen, Thompson, Ihiekwe, Wood (c), Mattock, Ogbene, Barlaser, Crooks (Wiles 72), Adelakun, Vassell (Ladapo 75), Smith. Unused: Bilboe, Olosunde, MacDonald, Lindsay, Lamy.
Town: Norris, Chambers (c), Wilson, Woolfenden, Edwards, Downes, Huws (Nolan 68), Garbutt, Judge (Sears 80), Keane (Norwood 67), Jackson. Unused: Holy, Kenlock, Skuse, Bishop. Referee: Antony Coggins (Oxfordshire). Att: 9,327 (Town: 923).
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