Huddersfield Town 2 Rotherham United 1: Millers give Terriers a helping hand

Joe Mattock up against Sean Scannell
Joe Mattock up against Sean Scannell

Nine months after their infamous B&Q beating came another do-it-yourself disaster for Rotherham United at Huddersfield Town.

The struggling Millers were up against it anyway against a side now topping the Championship but caused their own downfall by handing Town their two goals.

Izzy Brown and Sean Scannell

Izzy Brown and Sean Scannell

Last December, Rotherham lost 2-0 at their John Smith’s Stadium, sparking then-manager Neil Redfearn to question whether his players would be more suited to working in the famous hardware superstore.

This time it was Alan Stubbs’ turn to watch and suffer, the new manager overseeing a loss which means the Millers have opened a campaign with five successive defeats on the road for the first time since 1990.

A late fightback almost produced an equaliser for Tom Adeyemi, but the Millers fell into bottom spot as a result of this reverse.

There were five survivors from last year’s no-show - Lee Camp, Joe Mattock, Lee Frecklington, Joe Newell and Danny Ward - and it took only 86 seconds for them and their teammates to be breached when Elias Kachunga took advantage of a comedy of errors in the Millers penalty area.

The Millers fall behind as Elias Kachunga scores inside two minutes

The Millers fall behind as Elias Kachunga scores inside two minutes

The visitors had at three opportunities to get the ball clear but took none of them as confusion reigned and Kachunga had an easy job to slot the ball home.

Then Izzy Brown ceded possession far too easily in the 38th minute, allowing Sean Scannell to instigate the attack which ended with Nakhi Wells shooting low across Camp and into the far corner with the help of the post.

Angry Stubbs pointed the finger at referee Stuart Attwell, claiming the official missed a handball in the build-up to Wells’ goal.

“I thought the referee made a terrible decision for their second goal,” he fumed. “It’s such an obvious handball. He’s so close to it. It’s not acceptable he can miss that.

“We get back in the game and then a really poor decision leads to them taking the lead again. It’s a big decision. I can’t condone it. He’s a former Premier League referee. He should be getting basic decisions like that right. I can see why he’s back in the Championship.”

Four minutes before the disputed winner, Stubbs’ men had scored the goal of the game to draw level.

This time Brown did well to win the ball in midfield to allow Newell to play a raking cross-field ball to Jon Taylor and the winger’s perfect cross was touched in on the volley by Ward against his former club.

Rotherham away goals have been rare things this season - just three in five outings - but even rarer was the sight of Danny Ward scoring past Danny Ward, the Huddersfield goalkeeper sharing the same name as the Rotherham striker.

Huddersfield, with a 100 per cent home record, dominated early after the break as they had before it, although the Millers stuck to their task and skipper Lee Frecklington saw his low, skidding 18-yard shot slip only inches wide in the 57th minute.

Ward had a header deflected for a corner 10 minutes later as Stubbs’ team, lacking nothing in effort, gamely took the game to their opponents, but Town still had the ball in the Rotherham area plenty of times only to lack the killer touch.

Stubbs had gone with a young back four, dropping centre-half Kelvin Wilson to the bench and bringing in 21-year-old Dominic Ball to partner Dael Fry, 19, at the heart of the defence and they were troubled by the mobility and trickery of Wells and Kasey Palmer.

In the only other change from last Saturday’s 2-1 defeat at home to Cardiff City, Adeyemi came into midfield, with Greg Halford having to settle for a place among the substitutes.

With Rotherham pressing much more than their nervy opponents towards the end, Adeyemi missed a golden chance to equalise, heading substitute Anthony Forde’s superb cross wide with six minutes to go, and he then shot over with time almost up when he should have at least worked the keeper.

“When you have such a poor start and then respond, at least I see a lot of character in the team,” Stubbs added. “I’ve got to say, in the end, we could have got a point.”

In the 1990/1991 campaign, Rotherham didn’t win away until February 2nd. Stubbs might need better than that, with the pressure on him mounting after only one victory in his 10 league matches in charge.

Last season, in the game after the B&Q beating Rotherham stunned promotion-chasing Hull City with a 2-0 victory at New York Stadium.

Next up for the Millers, on Saturday, is a New York showdown with one of the giants of the division, Newcastle United.

How welcome would home improvements be on a similar scale again.

Huddersfield Town (4-2-3-1): Ward; Smith, Hefele, Schindler, Holmes-Dennis; Whitehead Hogg 79), Mooy; Scannell (Stankovic 89), Palmer (Payne 76), Kachunga; Wells. Subs not used: Coleman, Bunn, Cranie, Paurevic.

Rotherham United (4-4-1-1 ): Camp; Fisher, Fry, Ball, Mattock; Taylor, Frecklington, Adeyemi (Halford 90), Newell (Forde 84); Brown (Blackstock 84), Ward. Subs not used: Price, Vaulks, Forster-Caskey, Wilson.

Goals: Kachunga 2, Wells 38 (Huddersfield); Ward 34 (Rotherham).

Referee: Stuart Attwell (Warwickshire).

Attendance: 18,808 (742).