Chances not taken as Town go down to late Smith goal
Town had the better chances at the New York stadium but were beaten by an 89th minute goal from Michael Smith.
The striker reacted quickest to a free-kick to hook the ball into the far corner from eight yards.
Ellis Harrison and Jonas Knudsen were both denied by Marek Rodak in a first-half dominated by Blues and the home ‘keeper came to his side’s rescue after the break when he kept out Gwion Edwards’ free-kick.
Rotherham had their best spell right at the end of the game and Smith came up with that late winner.
Town gave debuts to Toto Nsiala and Jon Nolan, who arrived at the Club from Shrewsbury during the week, while fellow newboy Kayden Jackson was on the bench. Former Rotherham loanee, Grant Ward, was included in the starting line-up following the completion of his suspension from last season.
Nsiala showed his strength inside the first minute to cancel out the danger from Millers’ Kyle Vassell but seconds later at the other end Town were nearly ahead,
Edwards’ cross forced behind with Harrison waiting, then from the corner Nolan’s shot was deflected to safety.
Harrison escaped down the right but couldn’t make it pay as Blues started brightly, Edwards’ cross then dealt with by Rodak in the home goal.
Nolan, who immediately settled into the Town midfield, looked to find Harrison with an incisive ball but Semi Ajayi was equal to the task, then Rodak denied Harrison after the striker was clear on goal.
Nolan went down in the box with Rotherham having an anxious look at referee David Webb, Edwards seeing an acrobatic overhead kick blocked, then Bart
Bialkowski had a rare save to make as the half hour passed, the ‘keeper off his line to end any danger as Matt Palmer looked to get in.
Town continued to dominate, first Ward denied from close range then Janoi Donacien seeing a shot deflected over, Luke Chambers unable to get on the end of a loose ball from the corner.
Rodak was forced into action again on the half-time whistle, the ‘keeper first to the ball after Edwards had looked to set up Harrison, then getting down low to save from Knudsen after a terrific pass from Trevoh Chalobah.
Cole Skuse couldn’t quite time his header enough to test Rodak as the second-half got underway, while Bialkowski had to be much more alert to keep out Vassell’s left footer.
Nolan pulled his shot wide of the far post, the midfielder then setting up Skuse whose shot was blocked on the edge of the box, Nolan then wide from 20 yards as Town continued to press for an opener.
Jackson entered the fray in Town’s first change on 66 minutes, Harrison making way, the substitute immediately winning a free-kick 25 yards out. Edwards forcing an excellent save from Rodak.
Ward made way for Tayo Edun for the closing stages, Jackson testing Rodak after Knudsen had forced the ball into his path, then Jordan Roberts on for Edwards in Blues’ final change.
Roberts went down under Joe Mattock’s challenge inside the box but the penalty appeals were waved away, then Smith fired just wide as Rotherham responded.
Bialkowski produced a smart save from substitute Anthony Forde as the Millers enjoyed a late flurry and Smith won it for home side with an excellent finish from close range.
Rotherham: Rodak, Vyner, Mattock, Vaulks, Ajayi, Wood, Palmer, Taylor (Forde 66), Vassell (Jones 90), Newell (Williams 61), Smith. Subs not used: Price, Ball, Wiles, Raggett. Booked: Palmer.
Town: Bialkowski, Donacien, Nsiala, Chambers, Knudsen, Chalobah, Skuse, Nolan, Ward (Edun 77), Edwards (Roberts 81), Harrison (Jackson 66). Subs not used: Gerken, Spence, Kenlock, Sears.