With Rotherham’s striking resources hit by the hamstring injury to Daniel Nardiello, Kieran Agard stepped forward to stake a claim with a lively performance which at times terrorised Middlesbrough’s backline and saw the Millers desperately unlucky to lose an excellent encounter.
Agard, a first half subtitute, was denied by some fine goalkeeping as they came so close on several occasions in a second half surge including a last minute goal clearance to deny Danny Hylton.
Sheffield Wednesday, due here in the Capital One Cup on August 6, had their spies at the game in assistant manager Paul Wilkinson and first-team coach Stuart Gray and they saw the game come to life with three goals in five minutes.
Boro went in front on 15 minutes with a header by Ben Gibson from a free kick.
Three minutes later, referee Howard Webb spotted some pulling on Claude Davis who went to ground at a corner. Central midfielder Michael O’Connor slammed the spot-kick low to the keeper’s left.
In the next minute Ben Pringle found Alex Revell and the big striker, who has recently been challenged by manager Steve Evans to score more goals, slotted home nicely from 18 yards.
On the half-hour, winger David Worrall stayed down after a run up the right, walked off and was replaced by Agard.
He proved a lively handful and was unlucky when Ben Pringle delivered low from the left and Agard’s sharpness saw him get in front of his marker but keeper Ross Turnbull blocked the shot with his chest.
A minute later, Adam Collin used an outstretched leg to deny Halliday who was through.
However, Boro didn’t have to wait long for another opportunity and this time Haroun, sent clear, went wide of Collin to make it 2-2 on 40 minutes.
The Millers, who send a side including senior players to Stocksbridge Park tonight (7.30), fielded the same XI after half-time.
A tremendous last-ditch tackle on Agard by Williams 10 yards out stopped the Millers leading. From the ensuing corner Craig Morgan headed just over.
Collin superbly foiled Cameron Park who had broken clear but could do nothing when Lukas Jutkiewicz was sent clear to make it 3-2 on the hour with Rotherham looking for an offside flag.
Just before this Agard was superbly denied by keeper Steele and then the little striker caused problems again and saw his effort deflected just wide.
Revell had clear claims for a penalty when he was pushed as he moved to head in a Pringle centre that had cleared Steele who then made a fine save from a Revell header. Steele then saved from Agard.
*Rotherham United: Collin; Brindley (Bradley 65), Davis, Morgan, Skarz; Worrall (Agard 30), O’Connor (Tidser 57), Arnason (Noble 57), Pringle, Milsom (Rose 65); Revell (Hylton 80). Subs: Thompson.
*Middlesbrough: Turnbull (Steele ht); Bennett, Gibson (Williams ht), Burgess, Halliday; Park, Reach, Ledesma, Dolan, Smallwood (Jutkiewicz ht), Haroun. Subs: Leadbitter, Emnes, Carayol, Whitehead, Parnaby.
*Referee: Howard Webb (South Yorkshire).