Rotherham United 1 Blackburn 1 - Wing grabs priceless equaliser

ROTHERHAM UNITED captain Richard Wood summed it up the best.

Rotherham United loanee Lewis Wing races away in delight after his leveller against Blackburn. Picture: Simon Hulme.
Rotherham United loanee Lewis Wing races away in delight after his leveller against Blackburn. Picture: Simon Hulme.

Speaking in the week, he said: 'It's now or never' as Elvis Presley once sang.

Fortunately, there was no 'Heartache Hotel' for the Millers, a side desperate for a bit of fortune to stay alive in the Championship survival game.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

And how could deny them their moment when Lewis Wing hit the sweet spot to power home a free-kick four minutes from time to secure a priceless point for Paul Warne's side.

It was one of those dramatic days that you get at this time of the season. An afternoon when Rotherham were down if results stood the same at just past the hour mark, with the Millers behind to Adam Armstrong s 26th goal of the season on 17 minutes and Derby winning at Swansea.

Help was at hand in the Principality after two rapid Swansea goals and Wing's cherished strike - the biggest contribution of a good loan spell at the club - provided another twist.

It means that the Millers will leap out of the relegation zone if they win at Luton on Tuesday. And then there is the final day. But first things first.

Wing's goal was just reward for a much better second half when the Millers belatedly seemed to realise that their Championship status could be at stake.

It was bleaker in the first half.

With some justification, Rotherham can say that a fair few things have gone against this season - in terms of two Covid-19 outbreaks and a number of refereeing decisions - but you cannot legislate for misses like Freddie Ladapo produced last weekend or a howler of an error from Angus MacDonald in this similarly huge fixture.

The defender miscontrolled a long ball forward thrown in his direction by the visitors and Armstrong seized upon his error in an instant, haring away and coolly slotting the ball past Jamal Blackman for his 26th goal of another high-class campaign.

It proved a fraught half for the Rotherham defender, who later went off injured and was replaced by Wes Harding.

The Millers have huffed and puffed in response to Armstrong’s strike, but the poise came from those and blue and white jerseys.

The one moment of quality from a Millers’ perspective came from Jamal Blackman, who raced out quickly and made himself big to make a fine save to keep out Armstrong’s effort after a slick interchange involving Ben Brereton and Joe Rothwell opened up Rotherham’s rearguard.

Another shot on the turn from Armstrong, clearly with the taste for it, was saved by Blackman, with the Millers’ best moment in a rare episode of incision saw Chiedozie Ogbene head wide following a good centre from Ryan Giles.

The hosts’ care with the ball was pretty poor in the main as they coughed up possession continually to enthuse the visitors, who spurned another opportunity when Sam Gallagher headed wide at the far post following Rothwell’s free kick on the right.

The Millers start was actually decent enough with Rovers captain Darragh Lenihan doing well lto get in the way of Freddie Ladapo’s drive and Jamie Lindsay’s drilled effort flying wide and Ladapo firing a shot on the turn at Rovers keeper Thomas Kaminski, but the pressure was not sustained.

It was Blackburn who played with the purpose and assumed an element of control with the likes of Brereton, Armstrong and Rothwell coming to the fore.

It was the latter who had an opportunity to add to the visitors advantage ahead of the break when well placed and free in space, but his shot flew over from just outside the box.

In a game when the Millers’ fate was potentially on the line, the hosts had to do more - much more - in the second half with Warne throwing on Ben Wiles in a bid to try and stir the hosts into life.

A scream of ‘Come on’ from Warne greeted his players at the start of a season-defining second period, but elsewhere in South Wales, news of a Derby opener at Swansea was a colossal blow for the Millers.

As for the hope?. Well, Ladapo put a close range effort wide at the far post under pressure from Ryan Nyambe after good work by Michael Smith, while Blackman showed his adeptness again to make a fine reaction save to keep out Bradley Johnson’s header from Armstrong’s centre.

With their season on the line, it was approaching kitchen-sink time for the hosts, with Ryan Giles firing over from a tight angle, with Kaminski still being pretty troubled.

Rovers spurned a chance to seal it with Armstrong teeing up Brereton, who blazed over with the visitors secure in the knowledge that gaps would appear with Rotherham having no option but to push bodies forward to try and make things happen somehow.

The Millers’ urgency and desperation rose, but unfortunately, the quality count did not in the final third.

That was reinforced when Ladapo delayed for a split-second after being found tidily by Wiles, with Taylor Harwood-Bellis blocking his effort.

Ladapo then headed wide from a decent centre from Wiles, while some lovely intricate football almost floored the Millers’ hopes with the impressive Rothwell seeing his low shot fly just wide as Rovers sought to seal victory.

That was a moment of fortune, as was news of Swansea’s equaliser and quick-fire second goal.

Back at Rotherham, Giles started to become a nice outlet on the left, while it was on the other flank where their best hope of a leveller came when Ogbene’s low shot flashed inches wide of the far post.

Warne rang the changes and Rotherham enjoyed a mini spell of pressure, with two of his replacements almost combining to telling effect with George Hirst just failing to get on the end of an inviting centre from Florian Jozefzoon.

At least, there was a bit more tempo from the hosts. But what they truly craved was a home goal, however it came - and it gloriously did

Richard Wood was fouled right on the edge of the box by Lenihan and the free-kick provided rich opportunity and Lewis Wing’s curler put the hosts quids-in.

Rotherham pushed for more, with Kaminski forced into action to turn away Hirst’s goalbound header and from the resultant corner, the Rovers custodian beat away a far-post effort from the same player.

At the other end, alert defending by Giles thwarted Rovers in a frantic finale, while Blackman made his third key save to deny Armstrong, sent clear by Harvey Elliott before Brereton almost nicked it at the back post from Elliott's corner.

Rotherham United: Blackman; Ihiekwe, Wood, A MacDonald (Harding 36); Ogbene (Jozefzoon 69), S MacDonald (Wiles 45), Lindsay (Barlaser 69), Wing, Giles; Smith (Hirst 68), Ladapo. Substitutes unused: Vickers, Mattock, Sadlier, Olosunde.

Blackburn Rovers: Kaminski; Nyambe, Lenihan, Harwood-Bellis, Bell; Johnson; Brereton, Travis, Rothwell (Elliott 82), Gallagher (Dolan 73); Armstrong. Substitutes unused: Pears, Douglas, Davenport, Buckley, Evans, Bennett.

Referee: T Harrington (Cleveland).