Kieran Agard stepped off the bench to grab his 25th goal of the campaign as ten-man Rotherham United secured a 1-0 victory over Port Vale.
The forward made no mistake from close range in the 79th minute to halt the Millers three-match winless run. It was Agard’s fifth goal in as many outings and means they remain on course to finish in third position as they prepare for the League One play-offs.
Steve Evans, the Rotherham United manager, made two alterations to his starting line-up.
The Millers chief freshened up his attack, handing first-team recalls to midfield playmaker Ben Pringle and Wes Thomas. Alex Revell and top-scorer Agard dropped to the substitutes bench.
Rotherham made a bright start and Nicky Adams’ fierce drive flew narrowly over after good build up play by Haris Vuckic. James Tavernier’s 25-yard strike also went off target before Vale spurned a great chance to open the scoring in the 18th minute. Adam Collins produced a superb stop to deny Chris Birchall at the back post.
The Millers dominated for long spells in the first half and nearly claimed the opener in the 37th minute but Tavernier’s effort, from an acute angle, was expertly foiled by goalkeeper Sam Johnson.
Just before the interval, Richard Smallwood was given his marching orders following a late challenge on Billy Knott.
Evans threw on Agard after the re-start and the speedy forward almost made an instant impact, glancing a header agonisingly wide after being set up by Thomas.
Skipper Craig Morgan then nodded a free kick narrowly over the top as the hosts pressed for the opener.
Although Vale had an extra man, it was Rotherham who had more sights at goal, with Johnson making a superb save to deny substitute Alex Revell following Rob Milsom’s corner.
Fresh from scoring a treble at Wolves, Agard pounced from close range to put Rotherham deservedly ahead.
Thomas almost wrapped things up in the 82nd minute but he curled wide when well-placed. A 25-yard effort by Tavernier sailed over before Revell saw his strike drift wide following a neat turn in the penalty area.
Vale came close to grabbing an equaliser in the closing stages but Collin tipped over Jennison Myrie-Williams’ free-kick. Rotherham survived another huge scare in stoppage time when Jordan Hugill struck the post.
Rotherham; Collin, Tavernier, Morgan, Arnason, Skarz; Adams, O’Connor, Smallwood, Pringle; Vuckic, Thomas. Substitutes: Shearer, Davis, Revell, Milsom, Agard, Addison, Hitchcock.