npower League 2 action from the New York StadiumIt was back to npower League 2 action for the Brewers as they became the first team to visit the newest ground in the Football League, the New York Stadium, home of Rotherham United. Albion had a good record at the Don Valley stadium against the Millers and were hoping to continue that but were facing a daunting task against the side installed as pre-season favourites for promotion following an extensive recruitment of new signings under manager Steve Evans.
And the Millers did not disappoint their expectant fans as they ran out 3-0 winners over Albion who sloppily conceded two goals in the opening eleven minutes. Daniel Nardiello won and converted a penalty and Kayode Odejayi headed home from close range to give the hosts the perfect start in their new ground and although the Brewers fought back in the remainder of the first half the sending off of Lee Bell on the hour mark ended Albion's chances to fighting back and a deflected third goal from Ben Pringle compounded a miserable day for the Brewers.
Albion of course have undergone something of a makeover during the summer and four of Gary Rowett's signings made their League debut. Damien McCrory and Zander Diamond who played against Sheffield United last week in the Capital One Cup continued in defence and they were joined by midweek loan signing Anthony O'Connor who slotted in at right back in place of the suspended Marcus Holness. Robbie Weir linked up with Lee Bell in midfield where there was also a welcome return for Jacques Maghoma on the left, Cleveland Taylor continuing on the right. Adi Yussuf and Billy Kee continued in attack. Another new signing, Matt Paterson began his Albion career on the bench.
The Brewers got off to the worst possible start conceding a penalty inside the first five minutes. Former Blackpool striker Daniel Nardiello turned on the edge of the box and was just too quick for Zander Diamond who ended up sending the Millers striker tumbling. Referee Paul Tierney had no hesitation pointing to the spot and NARDIELLO coolly sent Ross Atkins the wrong way to open the scoring.
It was double trouble for the Brewers in the eleventh minute when they failed to deal with a long throw into the box from Kari Arnason and after a spell of head tennis in the six yard box Kayode ODEJAYI pounced at the far post to steer a header back across goal and into the corner of the goal.
After such a poor start Albion began to recover and looked to threaten themselves. Adi Yussuf was only denied bv a last minute block as Billy Kee's lay off found him six yards out after a terrific ball in from Lee Bell.
Zander Diamond was not far away from getting on the scoresheet as he attacked a ball beyond the far post from Bell shortly after. With Scott Shearer looking less than commanding in the Rotherham goal Albion continued to press and Yussuf was only inches away from guiding Cleveland Taylor's low cross inside the post.
Billy Kee then stung the palms of the keeper from an acute angle on the half hour mark as Albion sought to get themselves back into the game before the break.
Odejayi almost got his second from a flowing move as the Millers pounced on an error in midfield from Bell allowing Nardiello to raid down the left, evading a challenge from O'Connor before crossing in and seeing his striker partner head over from six yards out.
Albion were stringing some good moves together and perhaps should have done better in the 36th minute as an excellenet left wing cross from Damien McCrory was only headed up in the air by Jacques Maghoma and after a scramble on the Rotherham goal line the ball was cleared to safety.
It got even more frustrating for Albion on 38 minutes as an increasingly confident O'Connor got into the box on the right hand side and fizzed a cross in that Yussuf lunged at but could not quite turn in from six yards out.
There was something of a delay as Yussuf challenged Johnny Mullins just inside the box and was perhaps fortunate to escape a yellow card as the Rotherham man went down injured but it was Albion who finished the half on the front foot if not in front on goals.
Half time: Rotherham United 2-0 Burton Albion
The Millers made a substitution at the start of the second as Mullins, struggling after that challenge form Yussuf, failed to reappear for the second period and was replaced by Mark Bradley.
Robbie Weir saw yellow for the Brewers on 50 minutes as he was penalised for a strong challenge on Nardiello that left both players down and requiring treatment from the physios. Rotherham had the first real opportunity of the second period in the 55th minute from a corner. Ben Pringle's delivery found Jason Taylor at the near post who flashed a header across the six yard box. Just as Nardiello was about to pounce and nod home, O'Connor produced a timely intervention to clear his lines.
Lee Bell then went into the box for a sloppy challenge in the centre circle on Pringle who seized on a mistake from the former Crewe midfielder. Bell then foolishly picked up a second booking just moments later for a mistimed challenge on David Noble to get his marching orders on the hour mark.
A man up the hosts looked to go in for the kill and Michael O'Connor forced Atkins into a smart save at his near post as Rotherham attacked at pace.
Albion quickly made a double change with Justin Richards replacing Adi Yussuf and Jack Dyer coming on for Cleveland Taylor and Richards was close to making a scoring start as Kee set up McCrory to cross in from the left and the ball was just too far in front of the Albion man to get a strike in on goal.
The game was becoming very open and as Rotherham quickly countered again moments later Odejayi surged into the box only to be denied by Atkins and Pringle denied by a desperate block as he tried to fire home the loose ball.
Former Albion loanee Lionel Ainsworth was then introduced to the game in place of Michael O'Connor as Rotherham looked to exploit his pace and direct running against the ten man Brewers.
Nardiello might have created a third for the Millers with just under twenty minutes to go had he shown a willingness to pass to pass to a team mate rather than try to score himself, however he need not have worried too much as Ben PRINGLE made it three on seventy five minutes. The former Derby midfielder worked some space on the left hand side of the box before putting the ball into the middle via a big deflection off Anthony O'Connor and with Brewers keeper Ross Atkins wrong footed the ball looped up and into the far corner of the net.
Albion immediately threw on Matt Paterson for his debut in place of Billy Kee as they looked to shore things up with the Albion striker tiring. It was Richards though who was closest to grabbing a consolation for the Brewers as he bravely attacked another excellent cross from McCrory only to head just wide under pressure from Shearer.
Rotherham introduced Alex Revell with six minutes to go and the substitute almost capped his appearance with a fine goal moments later forcing Zander Diamond to back peddle before forcing a finger tip save from Atkins as the ball arced towards the top corner.
Albion's frustration was visible as a late free kick offered a chance to put a ball into the box but Robbie Weir went for goal and fired high and wide of the target.
Rotherham almost had a fourth in stoppage time as left back Laurence Wilson raided down the left and let fly with his effort rippling the top of the net with Atkins beaten. It was the last action of a disappointing afternoon for the Brewers who showed plenty to encourage the supporters in the first half but who eventually fell short on the day.
ROTHERHAM: Shearer; Mullins (Bradley, 46), Arnason, Sharps, Wilson; Noble, Taylor, M.O'Connor (Ainsworth, 65), Pringle; Odejayi, Nardiello (Revell, 84). Substitutes: Warrington, Rose, Evans, Agard.
ALBION: Atkins; O'Connor, Stanton, Diamond, McCrory; Taylor (Dyer, 63), Weir, Bell, Maghoma; Kee (Paterson, 76), Yussuf (Richards, 62). Substitutes: Lyness, Corbett, Webster, Palmer.
Referee: Mr.P.Tierney (Lancashire)
GOALS: Rotherham - Nardiello (5 pen), Odejayi (11), Pringle (75)