Burnley took advantage of their promotion rivals’ inactivity in the Sky Bet Championship by moving into the top two with a 2-0 win over strugglers Rotherham.
With Hull and Middlesbrough not playing due to the FA Cup, Sam Vokes’ first-half penalty and Scott Arfield’s late goal sent the Clarets into second position.
It was by no means an imperious display from Sean Dyche’s men, but they still could have won by a bigger margin as Andre Gray missed a host of chances, including hitting the woodwork with a header.
But they more than did enough to make it eight Championship games unbeaten and are looking a strong bet for an instant return to the Premier League.
However, their inability to put the game to bed might have cost them the win as the Millers missed a golden chance with 10 minutes to go, but Joe Newell inexplicably put his shot wide with the goal gaping, with Arfield killing the game off soon after.
Newell scoring would have provided a timely tonic for the Millers, whose plight is looking grim as they suffered a 20th league defeat of the season to remain five points from safety.
Recently-appointed boss Neil Warnock suggested before kick-off that this would be the Millers’ toughest game of his assignment and he looked like being proved right.
The Clarets were the stronger side from the off and they took a lead that seemed only a matter of time in coming after a sustained spell of pressure, which had earlier seen Lee Camp save from Stephen Ward.
Vokes was the scorer in the 27th minute as he converted from the spot after Lloyd Doyley had tripped George Boyd just inside the area.
It should have been two 10 minutes before the break, but Gray sent his header crashing into the crossbar from eight yards when he would have been expecting to score.
The chances kept coming after the break as Vokes could not connect properly with Joey Barton’s cross, while Gray blazed over at the back post and then shot straight at Camp after breaking clear.
The Millers had barely threatened throughout but their moment came in the 80th minute when Newell stole into the area but, with only Tom Heaton to beat, the midfielder put the ball wide.
That miss proved costly as the Clarets then did make sure of the points four minutes from time as Arfield fired home after Gray slipped him into space at the back post.
Warnock said: “I am really happy, they can’t be too down.
“You don’t play Burnley every week. We have got some tough games but teams that we will play against will have some tough games.
“We are looking forward to the challenge.”