Vaulks unlocks stubborn Seasiders
ROTHERHAM United warmed up for the play-offs with a hardfought and slender victory over mid-table Blackpool.
Will Vaulks’ fine second-half strike was enough to secure fourth spot for Paul Warne’s outfit, but in the end the hosts were fortunate to earn all three points after the Tanagerines squandered a host of late chances at the New York Stadium.
It was a lively and open start to the game with the hosts going closest. Neat work on the edge of the box by Ryan Williams led to the ball dropping to Michael Smith and the striker’s angled effort flashed across the face of goal after 11 minutes. Soon after Joe Mattock sent a header over the bar following an outswinging free-kick from Vaulks.
At the other end Blackpool always looked a threat and they came close when Sean Longstaff ’s clever freekick was well saved by Marek Rodak.
Chances continued to be created and Warne’s charges wasted an exceptional one just past the half-hour mark. David Ball jinked into the box and his low cross was somehow pinged wide from close range by skipper Richard Wood.
For all of Blackpool’s endeavour and willingness to compete after the break, Rotherham deservedly broke the deadlock in the 58th minute – and in impressive fashion.
The ball dropped at the feet of Vaulks, the club’s player of the season, and the midfielder cleverly turned inside before firing brilliantly into the bottom corner from the edge of the box.
Blackpool pushed forward in search of an equaliser and almost snatched it when Colin Daniel’s drive was expertly tipped to safety by Rodak on 73 minutes. Seconds after that and Nathan Delfouneso found himself in space in the box but his shot on the turn drifted wide.
Vaulks almost doubled the host’s advantage on 79 minutes – but his volley from 20 yards was tipped behind by goalkeeper Christoffer Mafoumbi.
It was a brilliant end-to-end game to round-off the regular campaign and Rodak clawed out a top cornerbound header from Kelvin Mellor late on.
The Seasiders piled men forward in the dying moments and it looked like they had grabbed a point in injury time but substitute Dan Agyei’s curling effort from 15 yards shaved the far post. And then, with the final kick of the game, Ollie Turton fired horribly wide from close range following more good work by Agyei.
STAR MAN WILL VAULKS Rotherham