Rotherham United 1 Aston Villa 2 – Heartbreak for battling Millers against ten-man Villa

For 45 minutes it was like Rotherham were the side going for promotion rather than battling for their lives at the other end of the Championship.

Wednesday, 10th April 2019, 9:53 pm
Updated Wednesday, 10th April 2019, 10:29 pm
Will Vaulks was on target from the spot for Rotherham United against Aston Villa

But ultimately it was five second-half minutes that cost them what would have been a famous win as they went down to a 2-1 defeat to Aston Villa.

The Millers, at total odds with Villa in terms of quality on the pitch and resources off it, outplayed their illustrious opponents in the first half and led through Will Vaulks' penalty.

Villa were also down to 10 men and the Millers had them not knowing which way to look with a barrage of high-intensity physicality and pressure.

But Dean Smith's side, hoping to exit the division at the other end, brought themselves off the canvas and turned the game on its head early in the second half.Jonathan Kodjia scored from the spot and then Jack Grealish bagged a winner that would be fit to grace the Premier League.

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Whatever happens in Rotherham's final five games, they continue to put up a brilliant fight that if the football gods serve justice at the end of the season will see them stay up.

This was another classic at New York, a stadium where games just do not pass by quietly and the hosts had four decent chances, the best of them falling to Jon Taylor, by the time Villa won a 12th-minute penalty.

Grealish ghosted past Clark Robertson, who then hauled him down in the area, only for Marek Rodak to superbly keep out Tammy Abraham's effort.

The match turned on drama in the other area nine minutes before the break as Mings stupidly handled Joe Newell's cross, earning himself a second yellow card and allowing Vaulks to smash in the resulting spot-kick.

Villa were simply unable to cope with Rotherham's all-action display in what had to be the Millers' best 45 minutes of the season and the hosts were unlucky not to be further in front.

However, it was like the first half had not happened and Villa turned the game around in the space of five second-half minutes.

They were level thanks to the third penalty of the evening when Semi Ajayi handled Ahmed Elmohamady's cross and half-time substitute Kodjia rifled home from 12 yards.

Grealish continued to show exactly why Tottenham were ready to spend £25million on him last summer as he then started and then finished off a brilliant team move, which turned out to be the winner, stroking home from 12 yards.

Rotherham were unable to match their first-half performance, but had chances to level, Taylor's deflected effort the best of them as they fell agonisingly short.

Rotherham: Rodak; Vyner, Ihiekwe (Vassell 77), Robertson, Mattock; Taylor (Williams 84), Vaulks, Ajayi, Towell (Wiles 68), Newell, Smith

Unused subs: Price, Wood, Forde, Crooks,

Aston Villa: Steer; Elmohamady, Tuanzebe, Mings, Taylor, Hourihane, McGinn, Adomah (Jedinak 37), Grealish (Whelan 90), El Ghazi, Abraham

Unused subs: Sarkic, Lansbury, Davis, Green

Referee: Andrew Madeley

Attendance: 10,668 (2,588)