Rotherham United 2 Hull City 4: Andy Dawson's brave commonsense sees off moribund Millers

Hull City went into a Yorkshire derby at Rotherham United and chose not to pick their best 11 (fit) players; four of the ten outfielders were out of position.

But for the second game running, Andy Dawson picked his best team, and claimed a 4-2 win even more handsome than the score suggests.

Even looking like a third game in a week was too much for them, the Millers were still the worst possible test for a Tigers squad built more for fancy-dannery than muck and nettles. Playing well or badly, Rotherham always keep you honest.

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Stupid as it sounds, picking his best team for the last two matches – both won away – has been a brave move by caretaker-coach Dawson.

GOAL: Hull City’s makeshift striker Ryan LongmanGOAL: Hull City’s makeshift striker Ryan Longman
GOAL: Hull City’s makeshift striker Ryan Longman

He did not just leave out Championship's top-scorer Oscar Estupinan and two of the summer's more expensive, high-profile additions in Ozan Tufan and Dogukan Sinik, in doing so he benched three players owner Acun Ilicali – who sacked "good friend" Shota Arveladze for failing to entertain him – so he could watch them in black and amber.

Maybe Dawson knows having played for Scunthorpe United but not Fenerbahce he is never going to be glamorous enough to get the job full-time. Maybe, as he claimed, "It really doesn't matter to me who's at the front of the technical area" for the club he loves. Maybe, like most people, he is more confident in a job in week three than week one.

"The more experience you get, the more you get the gut feeling – well it's not gut feeling, it's experience when you know something's right for a certain way – and you see them in training every day,” he explained.

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Hull still had the flair of Jean Michael Seri and Dimitrios Pelkas but packed them in grafters, footballing bubble wrap against a Rotherham side eager – rightly – to get physical.

Box-to-box central midfielders Greg Docherty and Regan Slater were nominally wingers, although Dawson argued: "If you look at the Sky Sports app (other apps are available) they might look like wingers but they're not in much different positions to when they play as a midfield two or a ten and they give us real energy, real determination."

Championship clubs no longer employ donkeys who can only run, head and tackle. Everyone can play. One day people will realise that about Rotherham.

There was an inventiveness, fluidity and positivity about Hull from the off. Ryan Woods allowed Seri to pick passes all game, but some of the link-up between Docherty, Pelkas, Slater and makeshift centre-forward Ryan Longman was a joy.

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Midway through the first half, the pressure looked like it might tell, Dan Barlaser's sloppy pass reprieved by an offside flag, Wes Harding robbed by Pelkas only, like Longman seconds earlier, to shoot too weakly and straight at Viktor Johansson.

Nathan Baxter’s brilliantly tip-over from Ben Wiles encouraged Rotherham’s only spell of the game before Hull took back what was theirs, makeshift left-back and stand-in captain Jacob Greaves poking in an ugly, scrappy goal after 45 minutes of Hull elegance.

That Barlaser brilliantly equalised from a tight angle before the interval was a test of Hull character.

Johansson flapped Pelkas' 50th-minute free-kick to Slater, but squeezed his shot away well with the help of a post. Two minutes later Pelkas spread the play for Cyrus Christie – Hull's second-choice right-back – to fire a near-post shot Johansson might have expected to keep out.

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In the goalkeeper's defence, he was a big reason Hull only got four.

The third was the best. Christie’s nifty feet took him to the centre to find Seri, who played the pass of the day to Greaves. Longman tapped in the cross. Grant Hall and Scott High, ready to come on, were too late.

Hull substitutes Tufan and Estupinan played as if they had got the hint, Tufan scoring off a post.

When Georgie Kelly slid onto a pull-back from former Tiger Tom Eaves in the 89th minute, the 2,274 Hull fans celebrated loudest. Many of Rotherham’s may have been celebrating in their cars having headed for the exits when Longman netted.

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"I shouldn't laugh because we conceded but I thought it was brilliant," said Greaves. "It was nice to give them something to cheer about because it has been a bit doom and gloom the last few weeks."

For a Millers side who won their previous two, it was a day best not dwelt on. The worry was they looked mired in a slog – Wiles and Ollie Rathbone's bodies gave up – and we are only a third of the way in.

Paul Warne got them super-fit, but as Taylor said: "Their brains couldn't get their bodies to shift quicker."

It was hard to know how much was down to Rotherham, how much – as Taylor stressed – Hull.

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For the visitors, the message was as loud and clear as the "Super Andy Dawson" chants which began as soon as the away fans took their seats and never stopped.

Even when entertainment is your goal, graft is an important ingredient. It seems unlikely Dawson will be rewarded with the job full-time but whoever is must learn from the prophet who went first.

Rotherham United: Johansson; Harding, Wood, Peltier (Bramall 63); Barlaser; Norton-Cuffy (Hall 59), Rathbone (Odoffin 46), Wiles (High 59), Ferguson; Washington (Kelly 63), Eaves. Unused substitutes: Vickers, Humphreys.Hull City: Baxter; Christie, Figueiredo, Jones, Greaves; Seri (Coyle 90), Woods (Sinik 90); Docherty, Pelkas (Tufan 63), Slater (McLoughlin 75); Longman (Estupinan 63). Unused substitutes: Ingram, Fleming.Referee: S Martin (Staffordshire).

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