Rotherham United 2 Fleetwood Town 2: Joey Barton’s players are pegged back late on

Ched Evans scored two goals for Fleetwood Town
Ched Evans scored two goals for Fleetwood Town
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Ched Evans’ double wasn’t enough for Fleetwood Town as Rotherham United hit back twice to earn a 2-2 draw.

Town had looked on course for a first Sky Bet League One away win since September, only for Rotherham defender Matt Crooks to bag an 81st-minute equaliser.

With the Cod Army looking to secure their first victory at Rotherham, boss Joey Barton made just the single change to his starting XI following the home draw against Gillingham a week earlier.

Skipper Paul Coutts was drafted back into a five-man midfield, with Josh Morris dropping to the bench.

Veteran Peter Clarke kept his place in a three-man backline alongside Lewie Coyle and Harry Souttar.

There was a frantic start to the New York Stadium clash, with both sides showing early attacking intentions.

Danny Andrew saw a volley blocked by Crooks, but in the fifth minute, the woodwork came to the Millers’ rescue when Kyle Dempsey’s 20-yard daisy-cutter thumped a post.

The hosts appeared content to try and catch Fleetwood out on the break in the early stages, but their boss Paul Warne was soon agitated at the lack of a quality final pass.

It was no surprise when Town broke the deadlock in the 26th minute.

After a spell of intense pressure and missed half-chances, Evans notched the opener superbly by glancing home a header from Coyle’s cross.

The Millers responded with skipper Joe Mattock firing narrowly over from 25 yards, but as half-time approached, it was an increasingly frustrating display as far as the disgruntled home supporters were concerned.

Freddie Ladapo looked capable of unlocking the Fleetwood door at some point and he fired a shot straight at Billy Crellin after shrugging off Souttar.

By the interval, though, Fleetwood’s lead remained intact and it was a deserved one at that.

Millers boss Warne made a change at half-time and there was a clear spring in the step of his players early in the second period.

Barely two minutes in, they came closer to a leveller as Ladapo almost touched home a smart cross from substitute Chiedozie Ogbene.

Fleetwood were equally determined, though, and Wes Burns saw a half-volley palmed away by Daniel Iversen as Barton’s men went in search of a potentially victory-clinching second goal.

Two goals in two minutes then lit up the New York Stadium.

The Millers deservedly levelled after 62 minutes with Ladapo heading home his seventh goal in six games but Barton’s players roared back into the lead within a minute.

Evans darted in to pounce on a Crooks error before touching the ball past Iversen from 12 yards.

The Millers then pressed hard for a second equaliser and were rewarded with nine minutes left.

Crooks atoned for his earlier error, forcing home a rebound after Crellin could only parry Adam Thompson’s angled strike into his path.

Rotherham United: Iversen, Thompson, Crooks, Mattock, Olosunde, Wiles (Hastie 77), Vassell, Barlaser, T Clarke (Ogbene 46), Ladapo, Smith (C Morris 82). Subs not used: Price, Robertson, Lamy, Gratton.

Fleetwood Town: Crellin, Coyle, P Clarke, Souttar, Burns, Dempsey, Coutts, Sowerby (J Morris 83), Andrew, Evans (Eastham 83), Madden. Subs not used: Cairns, McAleny, Biggins, Saunders, Garner.

Referee: Peter Wright.

Attendance: 7,883.