Rotherham United 1 Blackburn Rovers 1: Warne left frustrated at dropped points

Jon Taylor celebrates scoring Rotherham's opening goal. 9th February 2017. Picture : Jonathan Gawthorpe
Jon Taylor celebrates scoring Rotherham's opening goal. 9th February 2017. Picture : Jonathan Gawthorpe
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WINGER Jon Taylor got Rotherham on the scoresheet for the first time in five games but it was not enough to bring victory following a late own goal from full-back Stephen Kelly.

Taylor’s deflected effort early in the second half looked set to earn Rotherham their fifth win of the season - all at home - following four successive defeats and left Rovers fearing they will be joining their basement hosts in League One next season before they were handed a fortunate lifeline.

Rotherham's interim manager Paul Warne shouts the orders.
9th February 2017.
Picture : Jonathan Gawthorpe

Rotherham's interim manager Paul Warne shouts the orders. 9th February 2017. Picture : Jonathan Gawthorpe

Though just two places separated these two before kick-off, the Millers were 12 points adrift of the visitors, who had a game in hand.

Rotherham were without captain Lee Frecklington (ankle) but fellow midfielder Tom Adeyemi was passed fit after illness and replaced Joe Mattock. Taylor also came in on the flank in place of Will Vaulks.

There were home debuts for Cardiff loanee Semi Ajayi and Ben Purrington, from Plymouth and former Bristol City defender Joel Ekstrand got his first involvement with a place on the bench.

Blackburn brought in defender Derrick Williams for Gordon Greer and had 11-goal strikers Sam Gallagher and Danny Graham up front.

It took until 11 minutes to produce the first shot, right-back Stephen Kelly firing wide for the Millers - Grarham then hitting wide at the other end.

Ajayi also got in a good block on Gallagher and Richard Wood headed out for the first corner in the 19th minute, Charlie Mulgrew heading over from Craig Conway’s flag kick.

Rovers pressed and Richard O’Donnell punched out a free-kick and finger-tipped the ball onto the bar after Jason Lowe had robbed Taylor and cut inside before curling in a fine effort.

In response, the Millers won a free-kick 22 yards out but Richie Smallwood fired high and wide before Adeyemi later raced in to meet a cross from Joe Newell only to knee the ball into the arms of Jason Steele.

Gallagher hit off target from 12 yards as the ball fell kindly to him from a corner and Adeyemi forced a low save before the break.

Jerry Yates replaced Anthony Forde at the break to partner Danny Ward up front for the Millers.

Within two minutes the Millers were ahead, Adeyemi failing to control Ward’s cross from the left but Taylor racing in from the right to fire home via a deflection off Williams.

O’Donnell then palmed an eight-yard fierce header from Mulgrew onto the bar after Conway’s shot had been deflected for a corner.

Mulgrew also hit over a 24-yard free-kick as Rovers fans called for the head of manager Owen Coyle.

The Millers forced three corners in succession and Ward fired narrowly over as they discovered an urgency previously missing.

Steele went full length to deny Newell before Hope Akpan replaced Ryan Nyambe for Rovers.

A shot from Ward took a wicked deflection but a full-stretch Adeyemi could not connect close to goal.

Rovers made a double substitution in the 69th minute, danger men Liam Feeney and Conway giving way to Connor Mahoney and Marvin Emnes.

O’Donnell made a smart save at the foot of his post from Elliott Bennett.

Vaulks entered the fray for Adeyemi in the 77th minute before O’Donnell beat away an attempt from Emnes.

Rovers finally hit back in the 86th minute when Mahoney swung in a corner to the deep post where Kelly, under pressure from Williams, turned the ball into his own net.

Emnes headed inches wide and Rovers won a corner in stoppage time but the Millers cleared to claim a point.

Interim Rotherham manager Paul Warne says his side, who are 14 points adrift of safety, will always need to score more than once given their lack of defensive resilience.

He said: “Unfortunately at the moment we can’t keep a clean sheet so we need to score at least two to win.

“I just knew that we needed to score a second goal because there was a good chance we would concede. We didn’t get the second goal when we were playing pretty good. Overall, I am frustrated.

“I am pleased that we have picked up a point but hugely disappointed that we have thrown away two.”

Warne said he read the riot act at the break to provoke a reaction.

“I lost my rag a little bit. I was disappointed with the first half performance and I told the lads that at half time,” added Warne.

“I changed the system after 15 minutes and almost made a sub after 20.

“It makes it more frustrating because I thought they were excellent second half.

“It seemed a weird atmosphere first half and the players didn’t give the crowd anything to cheer about.”

Rotherham: O’Donnell, Kelly, Ajayi, Wood, Purrington, Smallwood, Forde, Adeyemi, Newell, Taylor, Ward. Subs: Mattock, Vaulks, Blackstock, Bray, Ekstrand, Yates, Bilboe.

Blackburn: Steele, Nyambe, Lenihan, Mulgrew, Williams, Feeney, Lowe, Bennett, Conway, Gallagher, Graham. Subs: Emnes, Lucas Joao, Akpan, Guthrie, Mahoney, Brown, Raya.

Referee: Oliver Langford (W Midlands)