Cardiff winger Anthony Pilkington scored three times but only two were at the right end as Rotherham picked up an important point in their battle to retain their Sky Bet Championship status with a 2-2 draw.
Pilkington had given Cardiff the lead, but the Bluebirds found themselves trailing after a Joe Newell equaliser and Pilkington’s own goal either side of half-time put Rotherham 2-1 up.
Pilkington made amends for his error by bringing the home side back on terms but neither team could find a winner, with Cardiff having Lee Peltier sent off after picking up a second booking with six minutes to play for a poor tackle on Rotherham substitute Jonson Clarke-Harris.
The hosts made a confident start on the newly-laid pitch at Cardiff City Stadium, although Rotherham were solid defensively during the opening exchanges as they looked to settle.
Pilkington was soon involved and found himself racing in on goal from a Peter Whittingham pass, but he could only shoot straight at Lee Camp, who did well to save with his legs.
It felt like a Cardiff goal was coming and it duly arrived in the 25th minute. Joe Mason flicked on Whittingham’s cross and Pilkington controlled superbly before sliding the ball home for his fourth goal of the season.
Having taken the lead Cardiff switched off and allowed Rotherham to grow in confidence as the opening half drew to a close.
Former Bluebird Chris Burke, making his Rotherham debut, saw his effort blocked by Scott Malone after cutting inside the full-back, while Cardiff keeper David Marshall was lucky no Millers players were following up when he spilt Paul Green’s effort.
But there was no let off in the final minute of the opening half, Danny Ward’s clever reverse pass found Newell’s smart run and he beat the advancing Marshall to find the net.
The goal sent the visitors down the tunnel with a spring in their step, and they soon led as Pilkington found the net at the wrong end minutes after the re-start.
Cardiff were without centre-half Matt Connolly, who was receiving treatment, and they failed to deal with a Newell corner which Pilkington could only slice over Marshall and into the net.
Cardiff were rocked and they nearly conceded again when Ward cleverly teed up Burke, who forced a sharp stop from Marshall.
Just as the home fans began to vent their frustrations, Cardiff found a 61st-minute equaliser. Stuart O’Keefe cleverly turned Whittingham’s cross into the path of Pilkington, and he made no mistake to beat Camp for a second time.
Pilkington was involved again a few moments later. His clever ball sent new signing Lex Immers in on goal, but Aimen Belaid made a terrific challenge as the Dutchman prepared to get his shot away.
Peltier wasted a great chance to find a winner as he somehow headed Whittingham’s free-kick wide from point-blank range.
Cardiff were again frustrated when Pilkington was booked for diving after going over too easily in the area before Peltier saw red after a needless tackle on Clarke-Harris.
“For us to come here and be disappointed with just a point shows how far we have come,” said Millers boss Neil Redfearn.
“It was a good football game, although it took a while to come to life. We started slow and they got their goal which was disappointing.
“But we grew into it, we equalised just before the break and had a spell for 20 minutes where we were on top and looked likely to go on and win it.
“We spoke about needing to start the second half fast and we came out and got the goal and looked like we might win it.
“But you cannot give quality players time in the box and they took their chance. We need to start stringing results together now because performances are definitely improving.”