MATCH REPORT: Hull 1 Rotherham United 1 Hull win 7-6 on penalties

A goal for Gareth Ainsworth.            pictures: paul wickson
A goal for Gareth Ainsworth. pictures: paul wickson
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IT can be dangerous to pass judgement or assess chances, good or bad, on one game. Certainly so on the first game of a new season.

But one cannot help but get the feeling something is stirring down Rotherham way. On and off the field.

The Millers fans - who turned up in numbers and with great vocal support - departed the KC Stadium with their feelgood factor enhanced by what they’d witnessed in this first round tie in the Capital One Cup.

The new feeling of pride in their club engendered by their splendid new ground needs compounding by having a team to follow on the pitch. They might just have one. It certainly won’t be for lack of trying if the on-pitch evidence from this gruelling and excellent 120 minutes of almost non-stop action is anything to go by.

Of course, it’s fairly common in this competition with its seeded, early-round draw, to find the underdogs up for it and bridging the gap and matching higher-ranked opposition who might not be quite at the top of their game. .

But here we had a Hull City side playing their first game for a new manager (Steve Bruce), their first home game and at full strength from the players available.

There would be no languid, ‘after the Lord Mayor’s Show’ stuff often seen from teams when such a tie has come a few days after they’ve opened the league campaign with a big game then had to face unrated ‘minnows’ from a division or two below.

Hull might have opened with a goal. Scott Shearer made the first of three vital, excellent saves when touching a shot from Leroy Rosenior on to bar.

Early blow for Rotherham was the loss of left-back Laurence Wilson after kicking Matt Fryatt’s boot when making a clearance.

It meant a defensive reshuffle and made me smile when recalling last season’s shambolic 25 different back fours because here were were, 12 minutes into a new season, and a ‘new’ back four of Mullins-Sharps-Arnason-Bradley that had never played together before. All the best-laid plans etc ...

As it turned out, it didn’t do much harm, Arnason slotting seamlessly alongside Sharps with the added benefit of his use of the ball from the back, although Mullins was given a hard time second half by the troublesome Cameron Stewart who switched wings.

Odejayi was unlucky with a header when he pounced on some hesitation and by the time Pringle saw a free-kick flash a whisker wide just beyond the half-hour Rotherham had grown hugely in confidence and were dominating.

This was reflected in an excellent move ending with an opening for Pringle and only a great block denied him.

When Steve Evans stuck on Lionel Ainsworth five minutes after half-time he could hardly have envisaged the instant impact he’d have - and what a first touch.

Instead of a long throw, Arnason went short to the increasingly influential Noble who was worked into space on the left. He picked out Ainsworth with his centre and the little winger, outside the area, struck a stunning volley which, dramatically, bounced off the underside of the bar and up into the roof of the net.

It had to spark a vigorous response from Hull and what we subsequently got was a cup tie of relentless attacking action as both sides went for it - and no thought by the Millers of sitting on the lead.

Shearer superbly tipped over Fryatt’s 20-yarder and Hull matched Rotherham’s substitution because Aaron McLean levelled with his first touch on 69 minutes.

After Stewart beat Mullins his shot was blocked at the near post by Shearer’s foot but the rebound struck a defender and looped right over to the other side of the goal where McLean touched it in.

A McLean header from a corner was blocked close to the line and Hull somehow escaped too when Rosenior cleared away a yard from the line to deny Odejayi after Nardiello had weaved into the area.

One wondered if Rotherham could keep it going into extra time but they did although Hull, as you might expect, produced the extra quality in the final third with Shearer denying Fryatt and Koren firing over.

The challenge on Agard looked a penalty before Taylor, having fluffed a header in midfield, reacted magnificently to get back and block Fryatt.

When, from a Millers corner, Ainsworth messed up on the edge of Hull’s box the home side broke away and a goal seemed assured with Fryatt clear.

Who was the last man challenging as he fired the chance over? Ainsworth!

Still time for a lovely Millers move with four minutes left to end with Odejayi’s short pass setting up the tireless Pringle only for his right-footer to fly over the bar.

All the penalties were superb with neither keeper having much of a sniff and going the wrong way much of the time.

Hull went first with successes from Fryatt, Koren, McLean, Proschwitz, Chester, Stewart and Cairney and Rotherham matching them through Noble, Mullins, Agard, Arnason, Pringle and Taylor before the 14th penalty was struck against the bar by the unfortunate Bradley - with the keeper going the other way!