Fans stay away as Millers lose penalty shootout: Rotherham United 1 Manchester City U-23s 1

Paul Warne
Paul Warne
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Boy, how it had mattered the last time Rotherham United were involved in a penalty shootout.

More than 20,000 Millers fans watched them win at Wembley in the 2014 League One Play-off Final at Wembley against Leyton Orient to famously book their place in the Championship.

This one wasn’t quite like that.

AESSEAL New York Stadium’s lowest-ever crowd saw Rotherham lose out 4-2 against a team of Manchester City kids after the first group-stage match of the Checkatrade Trophy had ended in a 1-1 draw.

Supporters had delivered their damning verdict on a tournament that allows top-flight clubs to field under-21 sides, staying away in their thousands as Millers manager Warne made 10 changes to the side which had demolished Southend United 5-0 in League One at the weekend, saving his main men for more important league tests ahead.

David Ball, the man who was once a Manchester City youngster himself, looked to have won the game for Rotherham with a clinical 64th-minute finish, but the visitors equalised in the final minute of time added on through Benjamin Garre, after a second half of total Millers domination.

“I thought we were pretty good for 92 minutes,” Warne said. “In the last couple we looked a bit ragged. I’m hugely disappointed to lose on pens. I’ve not see the stats but we must have had about 20 attempts on goal to their couple.

“I was please how we stopped them playing. We created enough chances to win the game two or three times over. The goal right at the finish was a sucker punch.”

More than 8,000 had been in attendance last weekend against the Shrimpers. This time, it was 2,562 (with 352 from Manchester), a record low at New York for a competitive fixture, beating the 3,975 who watched a 1-0 JPT Trophy defeat against York City on September 4 in the 2012/13 League Two promotion season.

More than 8,000 had been in attendance last weekend against the Shrimpers. This time, it was 2,562 (with 352 from Manchester), a record low at New York for a competitive fixture, beating the 3,975 who watched a 1-0 JPT Trophy defeat against York City on September 4 in the 2012/13 League Two promotion season.

Among those there was young Sheffield Wednesday striker George Hirst.

New boy Shaun Cummings, who showed up well at right-back, Dominic Ball, Richard Wood, Ben Purrington and Jonson Clarke-Harris all started for the first time this season.

Rotherham got on top after the break and Ball, who began his career at City, made the breakthrough shooting across visiting goalkeeper Arijanet Muric and into the far corner after being played in by substitute Alex Bray.

In the opening period, Jon Taylor headed wide after Cummings’ pinpoint cross, Jonson Clarke-Harris saw his header saved by Arijanet Muric following another quality Cummings delivery and City striker Lukas Nmecha got the better of Dominic Ball but shot into the side-netting.

Second half, it was all Rotherham until Garre’s intervention, as he shot home from 18 yards, made for late drama

Before Ball’s opener, Clarke-Harris shot but Muric reponded sharply, Muric was beaten by Will Vaulks’ 25-yarder and was saved by the bar and the goalkeeper was grateful when David Ball shot straight at him from a good position .

After Ball had taken advantage of Alex Bray’s feed to fire Rotherham ahead, Clarke-Harris was only inches wide as he broke clear and shot across goal, Taylor dragged an effort wide, a superb tackle by Matthew Smith denied Bray a goal at the back post and Muric blocked Taylor’s backheel.

“The lads gave a good account of themselves,” Warne said. “They just themselves down at the end.”

One point for the Millers, two for City after Charlie Oliver sealed the shootout win following home misses by Vaulks and Taylor and scores by Anthony Forde and Clarke-Harris.

More good news for City’s young guns. Even though the penalties made for a later ending, the 7pm kick-off meant they were back in Manchester for their bed-time.

Goals: David Ball 64 (Rotherham); Garre 90+4 (City).

Rotherham (4-3-3): O’Donnell; Cummings, Dominic Ball, Wood, Purrington; Taylor, Vaulks, Forde; Yates (Bray 57), David Ball (Kayode 85), Clarke-Harris. Subs not used: Bilboe, Hinds, Murr, McGinley.

City (4-1-2-3): Muric; Duhaney (Matondo 75), Oliver, Latibeaudiere, Francis; Davenport; Smith, Dele-Bashiru (Richards 69); Gonzalez (Garre 62), Nmecha, Dilrosun. Subs not used: Haug, Wilson.

Referee: Anthony Backhouse.

Attendance: 2,562 (353).

Shootout (ABBA style): Nmecha scores for City, Vaulks saved, Taylor saved, Smith scores for City, Richards scores for City, Forde scores, Clarke-Harris scores, Davenport misses for City, Oliver scores for City

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