Late goal snatches a point from Boro at Rotherham
- Credit: Archant
Lee Freckington’s 88th minute goal settled things at the New York Stadium as Steve Evans’ Rotherham beat Stevenage 2-1.
Two minutes earlier Francois Zoko had cancelled out the Millers’ controversial first-half opener to give Stevenage hope of earning at least a draw but Rotherham’s skipper ensured all three points stayed in Yorkshire.
After flood and wind warnings throughout the night, the pitch was in pristine condition and it was the hosts who had the first chance after Jimmy Smith conceded a free-kick on the edge of the area. Ben Pringle stepped up but his left-footed free-kick was easily collected by Chris Day.
Boro’s build up play in the opening exchanges was good with Darius Charles winning a free-kick in a corner and Lucas Akins beating his man down the touchline only to see his pull back cleared, but too the final ball went begging.
Francois Zoko should have opened the scoring in the 18th minute as Akins’ cross found him in between to defenders but his downward header was smothered by the Millers’ goalkeeper, Adam Collin, diving low to his right.
Three minutes later Rotherham had a chance to open the scoring as a mistake by Jon Ashton gave Pringle time on the left to put in a low cross for Revell, whose deft touch at the near post was tipped over the bar by Day.
John Mousinho was then called upon twice to clear crosses before Revell fired a shot wide from distance.
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At the other end, an individual piece of skill from Zoko had Boro fans on their feet as he flicked the ball over Kari Arnason’s head. The finish, however, did not match the skill of the move and he miss kicked his initial effort before Collin pounced on his second.
It started a period of pressure from Stevenage. Simon Heslop whipped in a teasing low cross which was put over the crossbar by Arnason before Luke Freeman’s attempted cross was blocked after he was put in behind the back four.
Boro were made to pay for all their missed chances as Thomas scored the game’s opener in the 41st minute. It was a goal the hosts will feel hard-done by as Day looked to be fouled in the build up.
Boro’s keeper was challenged in the air by Revell, whose shot was blocked on the line, as was the rebound. The next ball found Thomas at the back post unmarked and he placed the ball past Day.
Stevenage’s response was almost instantaneous but Peter Hartley’s header was saved by Collin and then the half came to an end, but they carried the impetus into the second period.
Zoko had a glorious chance to test the keeper but he sliced his shot wide. And then Davis put the ball over his own bar with Zoko lurking behind him.
A spell of Stevenage pressure ensued, the best of which came after a strong run from Akins down the right. Heslop set up Akins who checked back to cross the ball; the ball came to Morais, Zoko and Freeman but none of them could get it under enough control to get a shot off.
Rotherham were not without chances of their own, though. First Ashton put in a sliding tackle to halt Mark Bradley’s progress towards goal and then Day beat the ball clear from Lee Frecklington’s long-range effort.
Just before the hour mark Freeman could, and perhaps should, have levelled the game. A long throw in from Akins was only cleared as far as Freeman. The midfielder rounded one player and found a yard of space but he got his shot completely wrong and it rolled tamely out for a goal-kick.
Thomas should have doubled his and Rotherham’s tally in the 63rd minute but he headed wide after Pringle found him at the back post with a deep cross. Revell then scuffed a shot wide at the end of a flowing move involving Pringle and Frecklington.
With 20 minutes remaining Charles, who picked up a knock at the end of the first half, was replaced by Roarie Deacon and Parrett came on for Morais. For Rotherham, Miles Addison and Haris Vuckic were introduced for Davis and Revell.
In the 80th minute, Rotherham called on Arnason and once again he delivered, sliding in to block Heslop in the six-yard box.
For all their pressure, Boro finally got back into the game when Zoko popped up at the back post.
But their joy was short lived as two minutes later Frecklington curled a low shot past Day’s out-stretched left hand to restore Rotherham’s lead.
The fourth official indicated six minutes added time, giving Boro the opportunity to grab something from the game but they failed to test Collin and the referee brought proceedings to a close.