Goals from Ryan Taylor, Phil Edwards and Kane Hemmings saw Oxford United edge out Rotherham United to compound even more misery to the Championship’s bottom club’s disastrous season.
Oxford were understandably playing without any fear as they were the underdogs. Their attacking player’s movement caused problems throughout for the Rotherham backline that have been poor all season, conceding 55 goals in just 25 league games.
After missing a few early chances on goal, Oxford were gifted an opportunity from the penalty spot. Rotherham’s Anthony Forde was dispossessed in his own half before Ryan Taylor found space in the penalty area only to be brought down by Kirk Broadfoot.
This opportunity was squandered however as Lewis Price pulled off an excellent save diving to his left to prevent Chris Maguire getting a goal on his return to his former club.
Oxford did take the lead in the 41st minute though. Chris Maguire found Rob Hall on the right wing and with space to run into, he advanced to the edge of the box before squaring to ex-Miller Ryan Taylor, who slotted home past Lewis Price to give his side the lead going into the break.
The visitors were by far the better side in the first-half against a Rotherham side who were severely lacking in confidence. The U’s were unlucky to have not gone into the dressing room at half-time with a two or three goal lead.
Rotherham came out firing from the off in the second-half and were right back into the game after 51 minutes. Oxford failed to clear and Rotherham managed to feed the ball through to their talisman Danny Ward, who has attracted interest from a host of Championship clubs. Ward finished emphatically from inside the area to equalise for the Millers.
Rotherham had a brilliant 15 minute spell after this goal and it looked like they were going to take control of the tie. Their best chance in this period came from Will Vaulks. His fierce strike from 25-yards-out only just evaded the bottom corner as the ball struck the post.
Oxford defended well though and found their way back into the game as they finished the game well.
They went ahead again with just 10 minutes remaining. Rotherham’s defensive faults were clear to see again as from a corner, Phil Edwards was left unmarked and his header from six yards out was too much for Lewis Price as he put his side into the ascendancy once again.
As Rotherham desperately sought to find an equaliser before full-time, they were caught out by the League 1 side on the counter.
Some neat build-play from the U’s caused more problems for the home side as the ball eventually fell to Marvin Johnson on the left-wing, before he put in a deft cross towards Kane Hemmings who scored from close range to give his side a two goal advantage.
Rotherham scored a consolation in added time as Jerry Yates’s cross found the advancing Tom Adyemi who headed in past Simon Eastwood to give his side a glimmer of hope with a couple of minutes to go.
The Millers could not find an equaliser though and the game finished 3-2 to the visiting Oxford, who came out as the deserving winners in the end.
This was a brilliant result for Oxford who advance to the fourth round for a second successive year after defeating Swansea City in last years competition.
They will be hoping to use this good run in the FA Cup to boost their confidence in the league as they look to make up ground on their rivals vying for a place in the play-off places come May.
They have a very talented squad but if they are to make the top six, it is vital that they keep a hold of their manager, Michael Appleton, who has been linked with the vacant England U-21 managerial job.
This season just keeps getting worse for Rotherham United. They are currently without a permanent manager, they find themselves cut adrift by 12 points at the bottom of the Championship and the fans and even the board and players are seemingly losing hope regarding their chances of staying up.
At this point, the Millers would have to pull off another miracle to avoid the drop, which would be more extreme than last seasons remarkable achievements under Neil Warnock considering their awful state in the league this year.
It is clear to see that Rotherham do not have a squad good enough to compete against the elite at this level but with the leadership of ex-player Paul Warne, they are likely to give everything each game in the fixtures remaining which really is all that Rotherham fans can ask for.