Rotherham United have their defensive platform, now they must look for more

Rotherham United look to have enough defensively to play in next season's Championship but a bit more at the other end would make life more comfortable for everyone.

That was the conclusion not just from Saturday's 0-0 draw at Blackpool, but the four-match unbeaten run which is starting to look like Matt Taylor's reboot of their season.

Keeping a side missing the suspended Gary Madine at bay for 90 minutes is hardly open-top bus parade stuff, even with Josh Bowler lively and the threat of Jerry Yates.

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But it fell into a pleasing pattern. In the last four games the Millers conceded just one goal in total. The problem is, since putting four past Blackburn Rovers to start the run, they have only scored once.

With Ollie Rathbone driving them on from midfield, Rotherham were close to putting that right on the Fylde coast. Cohen Bramall clipped a post at a free-kick and Chiedozie Ogbene hit the last shot of the game against the crossbar.

But that and a saved Rathbone shot was not much to show for a dominant second half.

And even opposition as poor as Blackpool – who simultaneously went bottom of the Championship and a point close to safety – will normally get one chance.

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The fine margins were summed up in a minute of stoppage time which probably crammed more entertainment into it than the rest of the afternoon put together.

Rotherham United's Ollie Rathbone was the key man in the goalless draw with Blackpool (Picture: PA)Rotherham United's Ollie Rathbone was the key man in the goalless draw with Blackpool (Picture: PA)
Rotherham United's Ollie Rathbone was the key man in the goalless draw with Blackpool (Picture: PA)

Forgivably weary as his minutes ticked past 90 for the first time since November, the hitherto impressive Grant Hall sold Viktor Johansson short with a backpass, giving former Miller Yates a rare glimpse of goal.

Johansson was quickly off his line and Cameron Humphreys threw himself in front of the follow-up. Rotherham charged down the other end – led, of course, by Rathbone – and Ogbene shot against the woodwork from the edge of the D.

Either side could have scored but in truth this was an authentic 0-0.

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It gave Taylor another clean sheet to praise and ammunition to demand more, as he did at half-time with the hosts on the front foot.

Rotherham United manager Matt Taylor. (Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe)Rotherham United manager Matt Taylor. (Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe)
Rotherham United manager Matt Taylor. (Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe)

"If we want to sustain the level of Championship football we have to be better than that," said Taylor, who after watching the video clip back was bemused his players did not make more of a penalty appeal when Rathbone’s shot hit a hand in one of their few first-half moments.

"Championship players have to be able to compete and use the ball. Every time we got the ball close to where we wanted it in the first half it just fizzled out into an error – a misplaced pass, a poor set-piece or a poor piece of execution.

"It was totally different in the second half. We got the ball under control lot more, hence why we created the chances."

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Control certainly, but the story two shots on target told was about creativity, not finishing. He was nearly the matchwinner and involved in the penalty incident but Ogbene was otherwise anonymous.

Initially one wondered if Taylor’s message was cutting through with a squad used to a very different personality leading them in another direction for so long. But now the words appear to be landing.

"He believes in us and wants us to show what we can do. So do we," said Conor Coventry, a January recruit yet to know what it feels like when Rotherham concede.

"It's his job to get the best out of us and he's pushing us to be the best we can. The lads want to get better.

"We just need to keep adding those little bits."

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Taylor made positive substitutions, Domingos Quina making his debut against a team whose rugged approach is not really for him.

Tom Eaves is a more natural fit and gave the Millers more of a foothold than Jordan Hugill had.

Hugill had a tougher second appearance partly because he was hindered by a cough but also because Rotherham's build-up was more centred around crosses and through-balls that rarely came than the more direct stuff he flicked on so effectively against Sheffield United.

Fosu looks to have those touches, Bramall worked well up and down the left and Rathbone drove his team down the middle but too often the final moments never happened.

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"We're not going to score a shedload of goals," said Taylor. "We might have the odd game like Blackburn but we're not going to constantly outscore the opposition.

"I want our players to remain calm so that when our moment comes in any game we can capitalise on it."

Rotherham are moving in the right direction, but are not there yet.

Blackpool: Maxwell; Lyons, Connolly, Thorniley, Husband; Trybull (Patino 23); Bowler, Carey, Dougall, Hamilton (Rogers 64); Yates. Unused substitutes: Gabriel, Thompson, Poveda, Grimshaw, Apter.

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Rotherham United: Johansson; Peltier, Hall, Humphreys, Bramall; Coventry, Odoffin (Quina 76), Rathbone; Ogbene, Hugill (Eaves 69), Fosu. Unused substitutes: Vickers, Wright, Harding, Ferguson, Washington.

Referee: J Smith (Lincolnshire).