Matt Crooks’ second-half header wins it for Rotherham United as they move six-points clear at the top of League One.
Each team found it difficult to get out of third gear during the first 45-minutes, and there was not an awful lot separating them.
It was Lincoln City who had the better chances in the first-half though. Their first big opportunity came on the counter after a Rotherham chance. Paul Warne’s side worked it into the box and the ball fell to Chiedozie Ogbene from around 10-yards out.
The winger had two attempts on goal but he could not get clean contact on either shot as Lincoln were able to clear.
The Imps countered rapidly as the ball suddenly found its way to Harry Anderson on the right. He put in an expert cross towards Jorge Grant at the back post and his header forced Daniel Iversen into a brilliant save to keep the scores level.
— First Touch (@TeamFirstTouch) February 7, 2020
Then just before the break, Lincoln put together the best bit of football of the game so far down the left-hand side. They worked it to Grant on the flank and his dangerous cross along the face of the goal fell right to Anderson. But the winger could not get over his shot as he fired the ball over the bar from close range.
It is fair to say Lincoln were unlucky to not go into the break in front. Rotherham needed to step it up in the second-half if they wanted to get the win.
Rotherham were kicking towards an 1,800 strong sold-out away end in the second-half, and this made a difference straight away. In the 46th-minute the Millers were clinical with their next chance to go a goal up.
Paul Warne’s side worked it well as the ball came to Kyle Vassell on the right wing. The forward put in a sublime cross towards Matt Crooks, and his glancing header was directed brilliantly into the bottom corner.
Crooks reeled off with his teammates in an emotional celebration. He dropped to his knees and pointed up to the sky in a fitting tribute to his best-friend Jordan Sinnott, who passed away two weeks ago.
— Rotherham United (@OfficialRUFC) February 7, 2020
This goal really settled the Millers as they grew into the game the more it went on and their pressing was excellent all night. Lincoln were not able to find any rhythm in their play and all credit should go to Rotherham for making life really uncomfortable for the hosts.
Rotherham are well drilled by Paul Warne and his staff and their fitness level is on another level compared to many teams in League 1.
The Millers managed the game really well in the second period, as they were in complete control of proceedings as the match drew to a close.
Kyle Vassell created a chance all on his own as he cheekily chipped it over Cian Bolger’s on the edge. The striker’s fierce shot forced Josh Vickers into a good save to keep Lincoln just one-goal behind.
Lincoln only managed to create one or two good opportunities in the second period as they struggled to break down their hard-working opponents.
Their best opening came late-on as Anderson crossed into the box from the right. Tyreece John-Lewis shot was directed towards goal but Richard Wood was in the right place to clear from a yard out. But that was all as Rotherham saw out the game to earn an impressive 1-0 win.
This result is a blow for Lincoln City, as it is their fourth straight loss in League 1. They have a lot to do if they are to rise up the table towards the play-offs.
They should come good again though. They have an experienced manager in Michael Appleton, and a lot of talent throughout their squad.
Rotherham managed them well on Friday night to get the win, but Lincoln are definitely capable of taking points off those near the top of the division.
This is the best start to the weekend the Millers could ask for. Paul Warne’s side have now picked up 24 points out of 27 from their last nine games.
One or two teams below them have games in hand, but Rotherham are now six points clear at the top ahead of Saturday’s fixtures.
They are doing everything right at the moment. All they can do is keep winning. From back to front they are full of confidence and they are looking quite the force at the minute.
Next up is AFC Wimbledon at the New York Stadium next Saturday. This will be an awkward game but the Millers will be desperate to get their ninth win from their last ten games to remain clear at the top.