ANALYSIS: Blackpool 1 Rotherham United 2. Millers look the real deal after another joyous win by the seaside

Bloomfield Road, Blackpool.
Bloomfield Road, Blackpool.
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IF CIRCUMSTANCES had been different - and certainly if Rotherham United manager Paul Warne had his way - Curtis Tilt would have been lining up in visiting colours this afternoon and not the traditional tangerine of Blackpool.

Warne courted the big defender for some time in the summer and he was high on his wish-list, but ultimately a deal did not transpire, with the Millers chief understandably anxious not to witness too much of the defensive acumen that convinced him that Tilt was a natural Rotherham-type player in the making back in the close season.

Featured on the front cover of the match programme, with a interview inside which stated that he was 'getting back to his consistent best', Tilt's recent upturn in form - after a couple of high-profile mistakes by all accounts - was likely to be tested by a similarly imposing and integral figure in the Rotherham ranks who has started to look like his old self again in the shape of Michael Smith.

The big Geordie never gave Coventry City's defence a moments' peace seven days earlier in a workaholic performance full of graft and threat, with his prowess from 12 yards also displayed in netting two penalties.

The sight of Smith at his best was like bumping into an old friend again for Millers followers.

The battle between him and Tilt looked an intriguing one on paper, with the portents to be a crucial one in regards to the victor of this particular clash which pitted together two sides rightly tipped to be fighting it out at the business end of the season when the daffodils come out next year.

In the event, it was Smith who landed the important blow - directing the ball into the nety 51 minutes in after Clark Robertson, promoted from the bench to start against his old club after Joe Mattock pulled his quad in the warm-up, headed Dan Barlaser's free-kick across goal as the hosts' defence momentarily switched off.

Robertson's eventful and unexpected day continued when he sealed a grand away day late on, firing home confidently with an unstoppable half-volley after latching onto Jamie Lindsay's flick following another well-delivered set-piece from Barlaser as the Millers' registered an excellent 2-1 win.

After last weekend's highs, this victory was every bit as important, with the Millers' season now very truly up and running.

An arm-wrestle early on saw plenty of perspiration, but not too much inspiration, with Smith and Tilt right in the thick of it, but it was the hosts who settled and posted the semblances of threat.

Daniel Iversen was called it into action to turn away a scuffed shot from Matty Virtue, before the Dane showed just why Warne wanted him so badly in the close-season with a textbook one-handed parry to keep out a stinging shot from Sean Scannell - a block of the highest order.

The ball was soon played back into the danger zone, with Virtue's close-range effort hitting the woodwork as the Millers were afforded a let-off.

With the connection between Smith and Matt Crooks intermittent in comparison to last weekend, Rotherham found themselves increasingly up against it, with Iversen soon called upon again to grasp Armand Gnanduillet's near-post header.

The traffic was almost exclusively towards United's goal, with their defence forced to work overtime for spells.

A spot of hope, belatedly, was afforded ahead of the break and it resulted in the Millers' only threatening moment when Michael Ihiekwe's back header clipped the woodwork following Barlaser's free-kick.

It was Blackpool's half, but the scoreline was kind enough for Millers, who are blessed with positive recent memories from earlier visits to the seaside.

Just ask Warne after the Millers' journey in this corner of the Fylde coast back in December 2017 in a season-defining moment for the South Yorkshire club.

One potentially arrived on that restart, courtesy of last week's hero Smith, while Tilt's celebrations soon after when he bundled in Callum Guy's hanging cross were premature, with a linesman's flag having gone up instantly.

Suitably piqued, Blackpool sought a response with a low drive from ex-Doncaster Rovers and Middlesbrough player James Husband seeing his low drive flash inches wide.

The Millers then suffered a blow when Crooks went off, clearly in a bad way after a challenge on the half-way line, with the hosts throwing on Nathan Delfouneso to add another forward option.

The Seasiders pressed, with the Millers entrusted with managing the game out and staying on-message defensively and making the most of any opportunities on the counter, with the speed of the fit-again Chiedozie Ogbene being an obvious outlet.

Iversen's goal was protected well, with Blackpool guilty of running out of ideas as the visitors enjoyed another joyous day at Bloomfield Road, where they are now unbeaten since March 1997.

The gloss arrived thanks to Robertson's emphatic half-volley as the Millers extended their unbeaten sequence against the Tangerines to nine matches.

A late header from Gnanduillet which clipped the bar caused a few flutters, with the big striker pulling one back with virtually the last kick of the game in the eighth minute of stoppage-time from the spot after referee Christopher Pollard spotted a foul on Tilt in a crowded box shortly after Iversen splendidly denied Feeney.

Blackpool: Alnwick; Turton, Heneghan, Tilt, Husband (C MacDonald 85); Spearing (Delfouneso 62), Guy; Feeney, Virtue, Scannell (Hardie 77); Gnanduillet. Substitutes unused: Mafoumbi, Edwards, Nottingham, Bange.

Rotherham United: Iversen; Olosunde (Jones 83), Ihiekwe, Wood, Robertson; Wiles, Lindsay, Barlaser, Hastie (Ogbene 58); Crooks (Clarke 63); Smith. Substitutes unused: Price, S MacDonald, Lamy, Morris.

Referee: C Pollard (Suffolk).

Attendance: 9,932 (1,801 Rotherham United supporters).