Monday 21st April 2014
Rotherham United v Port Vale
At The New York Stadium
7,743 including 397 visiting supporters
ROTHERHAM UNITED:Adam Colin, James Tavernier, Kari Arnason, Craig Morgan, Joe Skarz, Nicky Adams, Richard Smallwood, Michael O’Connor, Ben Pringle, Wes Thomas, Haris Vuckic. SUBS: Scott Shearer, Claude Davis, Alex Revell, Rob Milsom, Kieran Agard, Miles Addison, Tom Hitchcock.
PORT VALE:Sam Johnson, Adam Yates, Richard Duffy, Chris Robertson, Carl Dickinson, Chris Birchall, Louis Dodds, Billy Knott, Ryan Lloyd, Gavin Tomlin, Jordan Hugill. SUBS: Jennison Myrie-Williams, Chris Shuker, Ben Williamson, Anthony Griffith, Nathan Smith
Vale’s impressive run against Rotherham United finally came to an end when the Millers secured all of the points thanks to a 78th minute strike from substitute Alex Revell.
Vale had more than matched their hosts, who played the whole of the second half with ten men after Richard Smallwood was given his marching orders on the stroke of half time following a late challenge on Vale midfielder Billy Knott.
The home side finished the stronger of the two, despite being a man down, leaving the Valiants to think about what could have been after coming away with nothing despite a decent display.
Vale made three changes for their second visit to the New York Stadium. With Tom Pope out injured, Jordan Hugill started up front and he was joined by Gavin Tomlin, who took Ben Williamson’s place.
Anthony Griffith was suffering with a slight thigh strain so accepted a place on the bench, leaving the door open for a return for Chris Birchall in the Vale midfield.
Vale didn’t look at all uncomfortable with the occasion in the opening few minutes of the game, giving as much as they got without threatening the home ‘keeper.
Although the home side were knocking the ball around well, Vale’s work-rate was admirable and they never gave the Millers any time on the ball.
After losing three consecutive games, Rotherham boss Steve Evans was desperate for his side to take the three points against a diminished Vale side.
Although Rotherham were already certain of a play-off spot, momentum gained leading up to their two-legged play-off matches could prove to be vital.
Vale amost broke the deadlock when Jordan Hugill crossed for Chru=is Birchall to hit a scorching drive which looked a goal all the way, but defender Kari Armason managed to get his body in the way.
As though they shaken by Vale’s threat, the home side went up the other end and Sam Johnson did well to touch a Wes Thomas shot over his crossbar.
From the resulting corner kick, Thomas hit a firm header at goal, which Johnson recated to perfectly, pushing the ball over the bar once again.
Vale responded at the other end with a decent header from Chris Robertson, but Millers’ defender James Tavernier was able to clear.
Vale were having slightly the better of things in terms of possession, but Johnson was again called upon after Tavernier found himself in space inside the Vale box, this time the May Bank ‘keeper saving with his feet.
A terrific 40 yard run from Chris Birchall saw him force his way through the heart of th home side, only to be thwarted by Adam Collin just inside the 18 yard box when the ‘keeper stuck out a foot to redirect the ball.
The home side were reduced to ten men in the 45th minute when RICHARD SMALLWOOD went in with his studs showing in a late challenge on Billy Knott and received a red card for his troubles.
Rotherham made a double substitution at the start of the second half with manager Steve Evans attempting to freshen things up.
It gave Micky Adams something to think about as he contemplated making changes of his own in response and sure enough he acted upon it in the 51st minute.
The Vale boss took off defender Richard Duffy and sent on a striker in Ben Williamson to give the home side something to think about.
Ryan Lloyd dropped in at left back, allowing Carl Dickinson to move inside and Vale were able to play with three out and out strikers.
A decent run at the Rotherham defence by Ben Williamson could well have reaped dividends had the substitute managed to pick out any one of two fellow strikers, Tomlin and Hugill, completely unmarked to his left.
Steve Evans made his final throw of the dice with his third substitution in the 65th minute, Alex Revell replacing O’Connor, and the Rotherham sub almost made an immediate impact two minutes later.
Revell got up highest to plant a firm close range header towards goal, but Johnson went down smartly to his left to make the save.
Vale made a double change in the 71st minute. Off went Billy Knott and Chris Birchall, to be replaced by the fresh legs of Jennison Myrie-Williams and Chris Shuker.
GOAL:All of Vale’s good work was undone in the 78th minute when the ball fell kindly inside the box for substitute KIERAN ADDISON and he made no mistake, slamming the ball to Johnson’s right and into the corner of the net.
Tavernier went close with a 25 yard drive as the home side looked to double their advantage, but the ball flew well over Vale’s crossbar.
A 25 yard free kick was gratefully touched over by Collin and then Hugill struck the upright, before a shot from Chris Robertson was blocked on the line with what looked suspiciously like a hand.