Blackburn clinched a first win in seven Sky Bet Championship matches as Shane Duffy’s early header lifted them to a 1-0 victory at Rotherham.
Rovers, who announced earlier this week that Paul Lambert would be stepping down as manager at the end of the season, made a superb start to proceedings, scoring from their first serious attack.
The Millers had several opportunities to draw level throughout the match but they ultimately came up short to lose for the first time since February 23.
Neil Warnock’s men had gone 11 games unbeaten to seal their survival in the second tier but they fell behind in the sixth minute, with Duffy getting free of his marker and powering in a header from Matt Grimes’ corner.
Another Grimes set-piece then caused more problems for the Rotherham defence, who failed to clear and allowed Jordi Gomez a shot on goal which was cleared.
Joe Mattock had a great chance to level but the full-back dragged wide after Leon Best had twisted and turned in the box.
Grant Ward tested Blackburn goalkeeper Jason Steele for the first time with a 25-yard strike which had to be clawed out.
Blackburn should have doubled their lead but Danny Graham could not get enough of a touch on Elliott Bennett’s flick and Lee Camp gathered.
Substitute Frazer Richardson, who replaced the injured Mattock, then forced a save from Steele before Best headed the resulting cross wide from just a yard out.
Darragh Lenihan and Grant Ward had long-range shots on goal in the opening stages of the second half but both were easily kept out.
The visitors worked a good chance to go further ahead thanks to a superb pass from Ben Marshall which carved Rotherham open but Gomez, one-on-one, could not get the ball past Camp.
Rotherham improved around the hour mark and had two headed chances to level up the scores.
First, Greg Halford whipped a ball into the near post which Matt Derbyshire glanced just wide. From the resulting play, Lee Frecklington guided his headed chance over the bar.
At the other end Bennett latched on to the ball fortuitously and produced a good save out of Camp at the near post.
Best produced an opportunity for himself by turning and shooting from the edge of the box but Steele had no trouble gathering his effort safely.
Camp had to palm away a Gomez reaction header before substitute Simeon Jackson blasted over the resulting corner at the back post.
The home side pushed for a late leveller with Richie Smallwood showing good skill in the box before the ball was nicked away from him by Rovers captain Grant Hanley and then substitute Danny Ward almost got on the end of Grant Ward’s cut back.
Rotherham defender Richard Wood headed straight at Steele in the closing stages and substitute Corry Evans had to divert a dangerous looking Grant Ward cross behind for a corner as Blackburn held out.
After leading The Millers to safety, boss Neil Warnock felt the players lost their competitive edge after securing another season in the Sky Bet Championship.
He said: “You need that edge and the competitiveness it gives you. You lose your edge when there is nothing to play for. It’s life I’m afraid.
“I don’t think we were prepared. The goal comes and he didn’t have to jump for the header. It was a Sunday League goal and I was disappointed in that.
“We lost the game but I can’t fault the lads. They have been remarkable but everybody has played their part from the chairman down to the tea lady.
“People have seen magical moments that they will remember for the rest of their lives in this run. We’re limited but they have listened to what we’ve wanted and done their best.”
Next weekend’s fixture will see Rotherham face Hull and it’s a game Warnock says he will look forward to.
“I think it will be a good game because Hull are in the play-offs,” he added.
“It is hard when there is nothing at stake. They are like pre-season games. I hate them and the early rounds of the cups.”
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