Rotherham 2 Huddersfield 2: Millers’ spirit is rewarded as Town let it slip

NOT quite a fairytale of New York, but this was certainly a remarkable recovery from Rotherham United.

Alex Smithies grasps the ball as Tom Lawrence drives in with Murray Wallace closing in.

The Millers denied their visitors a win just when the festive season looked like it had begun in earnest for Huddersfield Town.

Full value for a 2-0 lead earned by James Vaughan’s first goal since November 30, 2013 and a header from Conor Coady shortly after the hour mark, Town looked nailed on for their sixth consecutive victory over the Millers.

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Those scores of home supporters who headed for the exits well before the end missed a rare treat.

The vast majority of the second half may have been instantly forgettable as far as Millers fans were concerned, but there was a sting in the tail with late goals from substitutes Jonson Clarke-Harris and Lee Frecklington securing a most unlikely point.

As the old adage goes, if you are not at your best, do not lose – something to which the Millers just about managed to adhere.

They may still be without a home win since October 17, but the point must have felt like a victory in the circumstances for Steve Evans and his players, who have shown a penchant for a late show or two during his eventful time at the Millers helm.

Evans, whose side visit rock-bottom Blackpool tomorrow, said: “It is fantastic when two of your substitutes score a goal because sometimes you shake your head on the sideline.

“I thought Jonno’s header was fantastic and he was up a foot above everyone else.

“We got a little bit fortunate with the second goal, but I think they got a little bit fortunate with a few things that didn’t break for us in the box.

“Chris Powell, as an experienced Championship manager, has said (before) that a point in the Championship is always a good day; it is only a very good day if you get all three. But we feel we have had a very good day.

“When you are two-nil down with a couple of minutes left and you have the characters we have got, we are delighted in the dressing room.

“Our fitness in the last 15 minutes once again was outstanding. We had a team who kept going to the death.”

As Evans’s counterpart Powell rightly pointed out, no one – whether of a Millers or a Town persuasion – could have seen the most dramatic of denouements coming, with the visitors turning in a rounded away performance. For 88 minutes, at least.

What happened after that was unfathomable, much to the chagrin of Powell, for whom the sight of his side ending a run of four successive away defeats provided scant consolation in its immediate aftermath.

Powell, whose side’s last win on the road was back on October 1 at Molineux, said: “All of a sudden from being in a position we worked so hard for and really should have seen out, we are disappointed with a point.

“We did not take responsibility in the box or stop the cross at source (for the first goal), so you are always going to invite trouble and then there was a deflected goal.

“Maybe before the game, with the way it has been going for us away from home, we would have taken that. But it is two points dropped for sure. It was a good opportunity no doubt to get three points on the road.

“It’s a real shame for us because we put ourselves in a position to take three points.”

It remains to be seen how important the point will prove at the end of the season for the Millers and how costly the concession of two points will be for Town.

For Powell at least, the sight of Vaughan finding the net, with the need for his goal input pressing with Grant Holt hobbling off in the second half and due to return to parent club Wigan after tomorrow’s home game with Bolton, was a welcome development.

The contribution of Oscar Gobern, whose excellent cross was emphatically headed home by Coady on 61 minutes, will also have provided him with succour, but unfortunately it was two other replacements who punished Town.

Clarke-Harris rose impressively to head in Paul Green’s centre, with the visiting defence AWOL, then, with Town forced into a retreat, Frecklington’s deflected strike made it all-square.

Cruel on Huddersfield, but symptomatic of the slings and arrows of outrageous Championship fortune and proof you should never write off Rotherham.

Rotherham United: Collin; Wootton, Morgan, Arnason, James; Ledesma (Frecklington 74), Green, Smallwood, Pringle (Bowery 59); Lawrence, Revell (Clarke-Harris 79). Unused substitutes: Thompson, Skarz, Newton, Derbyshire.

Huddersfield Town: Smithies; Smith, Hudson, Wallace, Robinson; Scannell, Coady, Butterfield (Gerrard 90), Bunn; Holt (Gobern 54), Vaughan (Wells 77). Unused substitutes: Allinson, Hammill, Lolley, Peltier.

Referee: M Haywood (West Yorkshire).