A stunning goal of individual brilliance from Sheffield United’s new young striker, John Cofi,e settled a lively, entertaining clash in front of a sell-out New York Stadium crowd.
Cofie’s measured strike just before half-time, right-footed from the left into the far top corner and from just outside the area, was a goal to savour and obviously an indication of what he can conjure up.
In the second half, as Rotherham strove for an equaliser, the Blades showed defensive resilience.
Rotherham , without hamstring victim Nicky Hunt at right back, looked pretty close to what it might be on the season’s opening day.
As well as Cofie, Blades boss Danny Wilson included other new signings in Darryl Westlake and the returning Matt Hill. Tony McMahon and Shaun Miller, the other newcomers, were on the bench.
If things are indeed stirring in Rotherham then it was probably reflected in the sell-out notices going up for the first time at the New York Stadium making it, with segregation, just over 11,000.
Yes, the Blades had sold their full allocation of 3,500 but it is perhaps indicative of a growng interest already in Rotherham that they had sold the rest - more than double their average gate for last season!
In fact, there were so many latecomers that the kick off was put back to 8pm-
That’s not happened at a Millers home game of any standing for a long time and just to confirm the feelgood factor they even applauded the referee beforehand - mind you, Howard Webb is one of their own!
As expected, there was a splendid atmosphere at the start and both sides could have scored in the opening two minutes.
Maguire headed just wide from a Flynn free-kick and Rotherham were denied 60 seconds later - Howard superbly blocking Nardiello’s attempt to ‘dink’ the ball over him after Pringle’s slide rule pass sent him clear. Flynn put a 20-yarder just over and although Pringle’s free-kick diverted in off Maguire’s head the flag from Richard Wigglesworth had already gone up for offside against Mullins.
Then the Blades went so close.
From Flynn’s corner, Maguire’s header hit the post and McAllister headed the rebound wide.
Next the bar at the other end was shivering after being struck by a tremendous free-kick from Pringle.
After the lively opening there was a lull before Rotherham broke for Ainsworth to send Howard diving away to push out his 25 yarder. Then after Nardiello did well, Howard diverted his centre away and denied Odejayi’s goalbound follow-up.
Then came Cofie’s moment. Receiving down the left from Tonne, he looked for a way past Mullins down the side of the area, didn’t find one but then moved the ball inside onto his right foot and curled a beauty high beyond Shearer. It was a goal to acclaim.
Two minutes later, Shearer superbly denied McAllister’s point blank header from a Flynn cross.
The Blades sent on three of last season’s midfield regulars, Doyle, Quinn and McDonald and they were soon finding each other with the old certainty. Meanhil,e new man McMahon went on at right-back with Westlake switching to left-back.
Odejayi struck a chance over the top from Nardiello’s cross as Rotherham strove for an equaliser but the Blades resisted them solidly.
Cofie struck a fine effort just over, his last action before new man Miller replaced him.
Taylor zipped a 22-yarder just over and in the final minutes Quinn’s excellent block denied Pringle a possible equaliser.
MILLERS Shearer; Bradley, Sharps, Mullins, Wilson; Ainsworth, Arnason, Noble, Pringle; Odejayi, Nardiello. Subs: Warrington, Revell, Taylor, Rose, Ainsworth, Evans, O’Connor, Agard.
BLADES: Howard; Westlake, Maguire, Hill, Williams; Flynn, Montgomery, McAllister, Tonne; Porter, Cofie. Subs: Long, McMahon, McFadzean, Quinn, McDonald, Doyle, Miller, Cresswell, Ironside, Philliskirk.
Referee: Howard Webb.