League Cup Match Report: Rotherham United v Lincoln City
City were eliminated from the League Cup in an enjoyable but rain soaked encounter at the New York Stadium. Goals from Jamie Proctor and substitute Anthony Forde either side of a Billy Knott strike extended Rotherham's winning run over the Imps to ten, in a game with plenty of positives for Danny Cowley to chew over.
City's manager made four changes to the side that battled to a point against Wycombe, with Josh Vickers making his competitive debut in goal, Jordan Maguire-Drew and Harry Anderson appearing on the flanks and Billy Knott coming into the side to replace Matt Rhead. That latter change marked a continuation of the way City ended on Saturday, with a bit more emphasis on keeping the ball on the deck and trying to find pockets of space for Knott in the number 10 position.
Rotherham boss Paul Warne handed a debut to ex-Forest Green man Kieffer Moore up front, while former Imp Lee Frecklington kicked the game off in front of a 1700 strong contingent from Lincolnshire.
And it was Lincoln who had the first foray forward, as Harry Anderson dragged a low drive past O'Donnell's right-hand post. Matt Green also threatened but saw his break into the box curtailed by Josh Emmanuel, while the lively Moore stung the palms of Josh Vickers as the Millers began to grow into proceedings.
Matt Green, ploughing a lone furrow up top for the Imps, was clattered into by Joe Mattock who went into the book while Kieffer Moore ballooned over when well positioned 25 yards from goal. The rangy striker's effort served as a warning as City struggled to get out to pressure the ball, a warning that was not heeded as ten minutes later Jamie Proctor was afforded time and space on the edge of the box and drove home past a despairing Vickers. There was still time for City to have their best chance of the game before half time though, as Sean Raggett's header was pushed wide by O'Donnell. Much to the chagrin of the Imps following, referee Seb Stockbridge awarded a goal kick and for the second match in the succession the Imps were down a goal at half time.
City came out in the second half with renewed vigour and dominated the proceedings early on, with Michael Bostwick setting the tone, winning the ball impressively from Ryan Williams. Moments later, the Millers partially cleared a Jordan Maguire-Drew corner and the excellent Woodyard recycled the ball and found the on-loan Brighton winger once again. Maguire-Drew's first time ball into the box was met by a Sean Raggett header at the far post, which O'Donnell somehow clawed away from danger.
Having failed to make chances pay however, City almost found themselves two down. Raggett and Dickie had their work cut out to keep the impressive partnership of Moore and Proctor in check, while Vickers acrobatically tipped over from a Rotherham corner and smothered a low effort from Williams to keep City in the game.
And moments later they were all square. Ollie Palmer deftly flicked on a long searching ball with his first touch of the game, and indecision from the otherwise solid Ajayi saw Billy Knott steal in and lift the ball past an onrushing O'Donnell. Palmer was proving a difficult foe for the Rotherham back line who had largely dealt with an isolated Matt Green, and City found themselves with a bit more territory as the second half wore on. They were not helped however by the linesman, who quite staggeringly awarded a throw for the home side when the Rotherham fullback dribbled the ball straight out of play. An incredulous Palmer saw yellow for his reaction.
The Imps were growing in confidence, but it was Rotherham who found themselves in the lead with a slick piece of football down the left-hand side which was finished well by substitute Anthony Forde. With just ten minutes left, Lincoln had to find a way back into the game for a second time.
The Cowleys responded by throwing on Matt Rhead for Billy Knott and attempted to go back to front quickly, with Harry Anderson flashing a drive wide of the near post before a mazy run from Palmer culminated in a relatively tame effort that was well saved by O'Donnell. It was however not to be, and the Millers secured their spot in the second round in a match they shaded over the 90 minutes. The Imps were dogged, determined and had their spells in the game but ultimately came up slightly short and will look forward to a home clash against Morecambe on Saturday.