Blackburn 1 Rotherham 0: Millers unable to turn their toils into tangible Friday night prize

blocked: Rotherham United's Luke Hyam, who unfortunately netted the only goal of the game past his own goalkeeper, fires in a shot against Blackburn Rovers.
blocked: Rotherham United's Luke Hyam, who unfortunately netted the only goal of the game past his own goalkeeper, fires in a shot against Blackburn Rovers.
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After televised home losses to Burnley and Sheffield Wednesday, Rotherham United were on the receiving end of yet another Friday reverse, with their wait for a first win at Ewood Park since September 1979 also continuing.

While scores of people were no doubt enjoying themselves at office parties last night – including a fair few visiting fans judging by the sparse contingent in the Darwen End – the Millers kept their dancing shoes in the cupboard, despite threatening to break into a boogie on occasions.

The visitors, with the considerable incentive of breaking out of the drop zone with a Roses victory, had their moments, for sure, and posted a problem or two for a Blackburn Rovers outfit who could yet prove potential play-off contenders under recently-appointed manager Paul Lambert.

But for all their pluck, the Millers fell short, despite being meritorious of a point – and just as Blackburn posted a flattering victory against Neil Redfearn’s Leeds side just over a year ago, there was a bit of a sense of deja vu for the Millers’ manager.

And for the Millers too, who were also unfortunate to come away with nothing from this quarter of Lancashire last season.

Urged to be resilient and dogged by Redfearn, the diligent Millers did just that – and a bit more besides at times.

But not for the first time this season, they lacked a cutting edge and quality when it matters, with goals changing games and often seasonal fortunes.

It was Rovers who bagged the spoils to extend their unbeaten streak to seven games, although they needed some telling assistance from a visiting player in loanee Luke Hyam, who had a full debut that he is probably inclined to brush over.

Hyam proved the central figure at both ends in the first half, with the debutant going close to handing the visitors an early advantage only to have a more fateful impact in the opposing box in unwittingly gifting Rovers a 31st-minute opener in what proved the game-breaking moment.

The early signs had been wholly positive for the Millers, with Blackburn’s predilection to casually overplay at the back almost punished by Hyam on eight minutes.

His lob sailed goalwards after a lack of communication left Jason Steele stranded following a routine throughball forward.

Unfortunately for the visitors, captain Grant Hanley saved the day twice, blocking Hyam’s effort and then putting his muscular frame on the line again to superbly divert Lee Frecklington’s bundled near-post follow-up.

Nevertheless, the moment provided heartening warmth in the bitter cold for the Millers, with a swarm of yellow shirts on Rovers’ case incessantly.

But after an almost half an hour of frustration, Rovers eventually broke the visiting guard with former Millers loanee Tom Lawrence slipping in Ben Marshall, whose fierce shot was beaten away at his near post by Lee Camp.

Kirk Broadfoot then diverted a beautifully-struck goalbound shot from Marshall, but from the resulting corner the hosts forged a breakthrough.

Hyam was the unfortunate party in heading the ball past Camp, but credit should go the way of Craig Conway, who showed just why he is the king of the Championship assists after whipping in a sublime left-wing cross which simply begged to be converted. Unfortunately Hyam was the one who obliged.

To their credit, the Millers dusted themselves down with Joe Newell going close to levelling before the break, when he burrowed his way into the box, but Steele blocked his low shot and Shane Duffy cleared the loose ball in the nick of time.

More alert defending from Duffy diverted Hyam’s close-range strike after sweet play orchestrated by Frecklington and Grant Ward on the restart, with the Millers again taking the game to Rovers, who were guilty once more of starting a half poorly.

Jordan Rhodes and Lawrence were forced to feed off scraps, with Rotherham having good reason to feel emboldened, as it was as clear as day that sluggish Rovers were having a bit of an off-night.

But piecing together an incisive move to deservedly hurt the hosts proved an onerous task.

Redfearn rolled the dice and dispensed with the luckless Hyam midway through the half and threw on an extra forward in ex-Blackburn striker and boyhood fan Matt Derbyshire, who was afforded a warm reception by home supporters upon his entrance.

Blackburn briefly awoke from their slumber in the final 20 minutes, with Duffy – another having an eventful night – seeing his point-blank header from Conway’s corner tipped over adeptly by Camp.

The Millers’ goalkeeper then held a header from replacement Chris Brown under pressure as Rovers sought a relieving second.

Marcus Olsson soon denied Jonson Clarke-Harris a clean header at the other end, but try as they might, there was no way through for the Millers.

Blackburn Rovers: Steele; Henley, Duffy, Hanley, Olsson; Marshall (Taylor 82), Evans, Akpan, Conway; Lawrence (Brown 66), Rhodes (Guthrie 88). Unused substitutes: Eastwood, Spurr, Kilgallon, Williamson.

Rotherham United: Camp; Buxton, Broadfoot, Collins, Mattock; Smallwood; G Ward, Frecklington, Hyam (Derbyshire 68), Newell (Barker 88); Clarke-Harris. Unused substitutes: Collin, Thorpe, Toffolo, Green, Yates.

Referee: T Harrington (Cleveland).