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MATCH REPORT: ROTHERHAM UNITED 3-1 BURTON ALBION

11 December 2021

ALBION'S second trip of the week to one of League One's promotion contenders ended in a 3-1 defeat as Rotherham United maintained their place at the top of the division.

Two goals from Freddie Ladapo, either side of Kane Hemmings fourth goal of the season had the Millers seemingly on course for a routine victory but Albion showed plenty of desire and spirit to rattle the hosts and threaten a second equaliser before Dan Barlaser rammed home a third from an indirect free-kick after Ben Garratt had been adjudged to have picked up a ball back from Ryan Leak that the officials deemed a back pass.

After the disppointing defeat on the road at Wycombe on Tuesday Albion faced yet another tough away day at the table topping Millers and Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink opted to shake things up with five changes to his side. Leak stepped back into the side in the back three alongside Conor Shaughnessy and Cameron Borthwick-Jackson. Terry Taylor and Charlie Lakin formed a new central midfield duo with Tom Hamer on the left and Lucas Akins deployed as wing backs. Hemmings was restored to the Brewers attack flanked by Charlie Lakin and the returning Harry Chapman.

And it was the returning Leak who made a vital contribution just a couple of minutes into the game as Ollie Rathbone sent a cross in loking for target man Michael Smith, the big striker got up well at the back posty to head back across goal but Leak was there to clear his looping header off the line.

And it was Smith again, on eight minutes, out muscling Shaughnessy on the edge of the box to advance and force Garratt into a save with his outstretched leg from an acute angle.

Albion began to come more into the game and a neat free kick routine involving Lakin and Chapman almost carved out an opening before Rotherham only half cleared the ball and Lakin had the chance to send in a first time effort that went wide of the post.

Chapman spurned a good opportunity midway through the half when a long throw from Hamer was flicked on by Shaughnessy and the Blackburn loanee failed to keep his volley down. Within a minute Albion were a goal down though, such are the fine margins. Rathbone got all the way to the bye line and although it looked the ball had gone out play was allowed to go on with Ben Wiles turning the ball goalwards where LADAPO applied the finishing touch.

A second almost came for the home side when Smith won possession high up and sent Ladapo clear through but Garratt advanced quickly to block his effort at close quarters inside the box.

But a minute before half time Albion grabbed a hard earned equaliser from almost nothing. Borthwick-Jackson did well to dispossess Wiles and get the ball forward for Lakin to slip the ball into the path of the onrushing HEMMINGS who held his nerve to advance and drill allow shot that deflected off the keeper but ended in the back of the Rotherham net. The home fans were silenced as they realised they were in a real game.

Half time: Rotherham United 1-1 Burton Albion

The second half was only two and a half minutes old when Rotherham restored their lead. Chapman was outmuscled by two United midfielders and LADAPO was set free by Rarmani Edmonds-Green to race through and fire past Garratt.

A chance for a second equaliser soon came Albion's way, Chapman doing well down the left and finding a deep cross that picked out the unmarked but his shot skewed across goal.

On the our Ladapo looked all set to complete a hat-trick at the back post after Smith had worked room for a cross from the right. Inexplicably the striker got his feet all mixed up and missed from about a yard out although his blushes were spared somewhat by the assistant's flag that would have ruled out any goal he might have scored.

It was a spirited fight back by Albion who were getting close to an equaliser and home keeper Viktor Johansson had to drop smartly to his left to hold onto an shot from Hamer when the Brewers worked the ball neatly across the edge of the Millers penalty area with twenty minutes to go.

Albion turned to Daniel Jebbison for the final seventeen minutes in place of Lakin in search of a leveller and it nearly came moments later, although not through the Sheffield United loanee. The Brewers worked a set piece situation and on the second phase Hamer launched a sweet cross into the middle where Leak timed his run into the middle to meet it with a header that just missed the target.

The woodwork came to Rotherham's rescue on 80 minutes as Albion continued to press, much to the frustration of the home crowd. Chapman's corner was delivered right onto the head of Shaughnessy and his effort cracked against the post and came back out where the Millers scrambled the ball away.

But all of Albion's pressing without reward was exploited by the Millers as they finally put the game out of Albion's reach with six minutes to go. Leak, under pressure pumped the ball back towards Garratt who caught it. The assistant, after a moments thought flagged for a backpass and from the edge of the six yard box the home side worked it back to BARLASER to smash home.

Albion still pressed right to the end but could not find a way past a relieved Rotherham defence who ended the game twenty matches unbeaten since their last defeat in September.

ALBION: Garratt; Shaughnessy, Leak, Borthwick-Jackson; Akins (Amadi-Holloway, 85), Taylor, Oshilaja, Hamer; Chapman, Hemmings, Lakin (Jebbison, 73).
Substitutes: Hawkins, Morris, Powell, Maddox, Mancienne.

GOALS: ROTHERHAM: Ladapo (24, 48), Barlaser (84) ; ALBION: Hemmings (44)

Referee: Sam Allison

Attendance: 9,007 (267 away)


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