REPORT: TOWN 2-1 ROTHERHAMDavid Wagner’s Terriers extended the 100% start to the season on home turf as first half goals from Elias Kachunga and Nahki Wells ensured the points would belong to the West in this Tuesday night Yorkshire derby against Rotherham United.
Town made four changes to the side that endured a tough to take loss to Reading at the weekend, three of which enforced. Rajiv van La Parra made way for Sean Scannell after his dismissal in the previous outing, with Chris Löwe and Mark Hudson also missing through suspension - allowing for home debuts for Tareiq Holmes-Dennis and Michael Hefele.
The other change saw Jonathan Hogg make way for stand-in captain Dean Whitehead, who slotted in alongside the ever-present Aaron Mooy in the usual set-up of 4-2-3-1.
Town shocked the visiting Millers from the off; it took only two minutes for the lively Elias Kachunga to hook home, albeit after some hesitant defending, brought about by Kasey Palmer’s persistence to not let the South Yorkshire side settle.
Kachunga netted the opener with the fifth shot of a relentless attacking move involving Wells, Palmer and Smith to take his tally to four for the season and for his second in as many as many matches at the John Smith’s Stadium.
Holmes-Dennis settled in rather well throughout the first half, firstly having his goal-bound effort blocked shortly after the goal, as well as reaching a firm through ball from Whitehead with which he picked out Kasey Palmer, only for the on-loan Chelsea midfielder to shoot well wide.
The men in blue and white dominated throughout the opening period; Sean Scannell the next one to try his luck, only to be denied by a brave block from centre back Dominic Ball after Tommy Smith weaved his way into the box.
By this point it was looking ominous for Rotherham, but the elusive second goal still wouldn’t fall; Smith’s low cross just about evaded everyone within the six yard area after a lovely lay off from the impressive Kachunga.
Largely against the run of play, the away side provided a major shock to the system of the comfortable Terriers midway through the half; Jon Taylor crossing for ex-Town man Danny Ward to nod home, ensuring that Town now had to make absolutely certain that they were well and truly up for the fight of maintaining the perfect home record.
And make certain they did; four minutes after the surprise equaliser, talisman Nahki Wells delicately placed David Wagner’s back into the lead off the foot of the post, the goal coming from a barnstorming charge at the heart of the Millers defence by Scannell. The popular winger disposed Rotherham’s Chelsea loanee Izzy Brown in the centre circle before charging towards the defence and slipping a well-timed pass to Wells, who shot past the defender and Lee Camp on his 100th start for the Club.
Fan favourite Hefele nearly marked his league debut perfectly with a headed attempt, but he was to be denied from short range by Lee Camp towards the sound of the half time whistle.
Town had a flurry of chances to wrap the game up in the second period; Kasey Palmer blasted over from Kache’s set back, whereas Hefele again saw some goalmouth action, only to this time fire wide from an acute angle.
Alan Stubbs’ side didn’t roll over easily, however. The first goal combination linked up once more, only for Danny Ward to this time narrowly head wide of the target from Jon Taylor’s centre.
The Millers could’ve nicked a valuable point late on, but somehow midfielder Tom Adeyemi managed to squander a guilt-edged chance from inside the six yard box before seeing his 25-yard attempt sail way into the boisterous North Stand Loyal section of the ground.
However Town were to withstand the threat posed from the mini-onslaught and see the game out in relatively comfortable fashion, which even included a late league debut substitution appearance for Croatian Jon Stanković.
All in all, a performance full of first half quality and second half determination saw David Wagner’s side rise to the summit of the Sky Bet Championship once again ahead of a trip to Suffolk to face Ipswich Town on Saturday
Town’s team (4-2-3-1):
Danny Ward; Tareiq Holmes-Dennis, Christopher Schindler, Michael Hefele, Tommy Smith; Aaron Mooy, Dean Whitehead (Jonathan Hogg, 79’); Elias Kachunga, Kasey Palmer (Jack Payne, 75’), Sean Scannell (Jon Gorenc Stanković, 89’); Nahki Wells
Joel Coleman, Harry Bunn, Martin Cranie, Ivan Paurević