Chiedozie Ogbene ready to answer Rotherham United’s striker shortage after starring role in draw with Swansea City

For all the negativity surrounding Rotherham United’s recruitment and player retention in a summer after they clinched a third promotion to the Championship in five seasons, Chiedozie Ogbene provided a real ray of hope on the opening day.

The Republic of Ireland international may lack the aeriel prowess of last season’s top scorer Michael Smith or the second-tier goalscoring reputation that manager Paul Warne desperately craves.

But with Smith controversially leaving on a free to near-neighbours Sheffield Wednesday who the Millers pipped to promotion, and no experienced goalscorer recruited to replace him, Warne may have found his answer from within.

Ogbene is a right-winger by trade, often used as a wing-back last season by Warne, but rare is it that he has been employed in such an attacking position as he found himself against Swansea City in the Championship opener.

Chiedozie Ogbene got Rotherham United's first goal of the Championship campaign. (Picture: Henry Browne/Getty Images)

But it worked, with Ogbene a goalscoring livewire in a front-two partnership with summe recruit Conor Washington, and he may solve an immediate problem for Warne.

“You can see why I like Chio up there because he gets you up the pitch and gets you in,” said Warne.

“Your best players can play anywhere, you’ve just got to get them in the team. I think he’s a threat and the way this league is centre forwards don’t get beaten up, there’s a lot more ball play, a lot more sliding players in down the side. It will favour him, plus he doesn’t have to run back.”

Warne is still trying to add a striker with another summer addition Tom Eaves three weeks away from a return, but Ogbene could be a long-term solution up front.

“He could be the answer,” said Warne. “If you ask him he doesn’t want to play anywhere else but there – no one grows up wanting to be a wing-back.

“He scored his goal today, caused problems, so I definitely see him at this moment in time as a very good 10 behind the No 9, or a 9, and today he definitely cemented what I thought before he played.”

It was a classic striker’s goal that Ogbene scored to get the Millers up and running in the Championship, flicking Wes Harding’s long throw over the head of goalkeeper Andy Fisher after the evergreen Richard Wood had made a nuisance of himself in the box, forcing a Swansea defender to glance the ball in Ogbene’s direction.

Buoyed by the goal, Ogbene nearly had a second when from another deflected Harding centre, his overhead kick was acrobatically palmed away by Fisher.

The game swung in the 38th minute when Ben Wiles burst clear from a Swansea corner as Rotherham players poured forward.

Wiles ran 60 yards but with four team-mates to his left outnumbering the black shirts of Swansea, he tripped over his own feet and the chance was gone.

Within 60 seconds, Harry Darling conjured a moment of magic out of thin air, lashing the ball home from 25 yards with no one closing him down.

It was a reminder to Warne and the Millers faithful – not that they need it after three relegations from this level in six years – of just how quickly things can change in the Championship.

But Rotherham stuck manfully to their task to claim a hard-earned point from which they can take encouragement.

Ogbene had a shot saved in the second half, while Dan Barlaser also saw a shot tipped over from Fisher.

Second-half substitutes Georgie Kelly and Cohen Bramall impressed as Warne freshened his side up as they started to tire, and both had good chances saved.

It could have been so different though had Swansea striker Michael Obafemi not missed a guilt-edged chance when steering the ball back to Viktor Johansson from Joel Piroe’s ball across the box.

Johansson was also called upon shortly afterwards to expertly tip Jamie Paterson’s 16-yard shot over the bar.

Either side could have won it, but with every point precious even from the first 90 minutes of a long season, the Rotherham faithful’s cheers at full-time showed just how much their team’s encouraging performance and the point means to them.

Warne just needs more recruits in the final month of the transfer window to ensure it is a result they can build on.

“If our midfield three were asked to play again Tuesday there’d be no chance, they’d be exhausted, that’s why you need a big squad,” he said.

“We definitely need to strengthen to help the lads out. We just try and recruit the best players we can that are affordable, available and want to come.”

Rotherham United: Johansson, Humphreys, R Wood, Hall (Kioso 66); Barlaser; Harding, Ferguson (Bramall 66); Lindsay, Wiles; Ogbene, Washington (Kelly 66). Unused substitutes: Vickers, McCart, High, Odoffin.

Swansea City: Fisher; Naughton, Darling, N Wood; Latibeaudiere, Fulton, Grimes, Sorinola (Manning 72); Piroe, Obafemi, Paterson (Ntcham 72). Unused substitutes: Benda, Cabango, Cullen, Cooper, Congreve.

Referee: M Donohue.