Rotherham United 1 Ipswich Town 0: Blues downed by late Smith strike
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Ipswich Town went down 1-0 to a Michael Smith goal at Rotherham today, as their League One play-off hopes were finally extinguished.
Smith was on hand in the 77th minute to steer home a shot from inside the Town box after a long throw had caused confusion.
It was no more than the home side deserved for a strong second-half performance after the first-half had been pretty even. The win put the Millers back into the automatic play-off places, until MK Dons played later.
For Town it is now one win in six, and a continuation of the TV curse which has seen them now win just three in 35 games, while Rotherham arrested their recent poor form of three straight defeats.
It was a glorious afternoon in south Yorkshire for what was a lunchtime Sky televised clash.
Town showed three changes from the side that drew at Shrewsbury. Dominic Thompson, Bersant Celina and league debutant Elkan Baggott came in for Matt Penney, Conor Chaplin and the suspended Cameron Burgess.
Rotherham suffered their third straight defeat in midweek - 3-0 at Portsmouth. Boss Paul Warne made four changes, including two in defence.
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Town were playing in their all-blue kit backed by a noisy 1,100 Town fans who had made the early morning trip.
Rotherham won the first corner in the second minute, that Mickel Miller took. Michael Smith nodded back into the box and Luke Woolfenden had to block a shot, before Chiedozie Ogbene shot over.
Town went straight up the other end after Wes Burns won a corner. It was cleared, but it had been a lively start, with Aluko the next to win Town a corner, only six minutes had gone.
Ipswich had a great chance to take the lead two minutes later.
Aluko played a delightful ball over the top to the on-rushing Burns. His first-time cross found James Norwood six yards out, but he totally mis-hit the opportunity, six yards out. It was a let off for the home side.
Woolfenden cut out Ogbene's cross as Town won their third corner in the opening 16 minutes. But Celina overhit it. Jordi Osei-Tuto shot over as Burns crossed way over at the other end.
Ben Wiles' shot was blocked for a corner after a Millers free-kick into the Town area. The short corner was cleared. Janoi Donacien produced a fine tackle to stop Wiles.
The game had quietened down a tad, but was soon back up to speed with Thompson getting to the byline, his cross bouncing over Viktor Johansson's hands in the six-yard box, but no Town player was close enough to connect.
Donacien was on hand to block as Ollie Rathbone shot from 16 yards and then Norwood and Millers' skipper Michael Ihiekwe were both grabbling on the ground in the 37th minute, referee Mr Wright deciding just a talking to both players sufficed.
The referee was letting some meaty challenges go, which was keeping the game flowing. However, he did show his first yellow card of the afternoon to Burns after he fouled Osei-Tutu.
The home side finished on the up with a corner, but Christian Walton caught with ease. The half ended with a dramatic moment when Celina pushed over Rathbone after the Millers man had blocked him. The home fans were calling for a red, but the referee thought otherwise as the half-time whistle went.
The second half started with a booking for Norwood after a clash with Ihiekwe and then Donacien did well to clear a dangerous Rarmani Edmunds-Green cross.
The home side had started on the front foot this half as Town gave away needless free-kicks.
It was all Rotherham with Osei-Tutu crossing far post, with the recycled ball falling to Edmunds-Green, who shot just wide. Woolfenden was the next Town player in the book after a foul on Osei-Tutu as Ipswich continued to create their own problems.
Edmonds-Green was booked for a foul on Norwood in the 62nd minute and from the free-kick Johansson and Aluko clashed challenging for a high ball.
Town made a double substitution a minute later, Aluko and Norwood being replaced by Conor Chaplin and Macauley Bonne.
A brilliant ball by Rathbone almost found Ogbene as the home side continued to have the upper hand as the game went into the last quarter.
On 72 minutes Woolfenden went on an unbelievable run, exchanging passes with Sam Morsy and running almost the full length of the field. He pulled the ball across the six-yard area where it was deflected back to Burns, who fired at Johansson who tipped over.
Up the other end, Walton produced a wonderful reflex save to deny Michael Smith.
In the 77th minute Rotherham took the lead.
A long throw from the right bobbled about in the Town box. Donacien tried to clear as a shot came in, but it ricocheted to Smith, who fired home. It was the big striker's first goal since February and no more than Rotherham deserved for their second-half display.
Joe Pigott replaced Celina a minute later as Town went searching for an equaliser.
Town ended the game with two corners as nine minutes of time added-on was put up by the fourth official, but the home side saw it out.
ROTHERHAM UTD (3-1-4-2): Johansson; Edmonds-Green, Ihiekwe (cpt), Harding; Rathbone; Osei-Tutu (Wood 90), Lindsay, Wiles, Miller (Barlaser 24); Smith, Ogbene.
Unused subs: Chapman, Mattock, Ferguson, Ladapo, Kayode.
Booked: Edmonds-Green (63).
IPSWICH TOWN (3-4-2-1): Walton; Donacien, Woolfenden, Baggott; Burns, Morsy (cpt), Bakinson, Thompson; Aluko (Chaplin 66), Celina (Pigott 79); Norwood (Bonne 66).
Booked: Burns (45), Celina (45+), Norwood (46), Woolfenden (56), Aluko (65).
Unused subs: Hladky, Penney, El Mizouni, Carroll.
Attendance: 9,394 (1,087 away)
Referee: P. Wright