Rotherham United 2 Blackburn Rovers 0: Millers merit their luck as winless run is ended

SO, September was not so painful after all.

Luciano Becchio is congratulated by Rotherham United team-mates after scoring a fortuitous second goal for the Millers against Blackburn (Picture: Bruce Rollinson).
Luciano Becchio is congratulated by Rotherham United team-mates after scoring a fortuitous second goal for the Millers against Blackburn (Picture: Bruce Rollinson).

A month which had brought few rewards ended in enriching fashion by way of a first victory in seven matches for Rotherham United. Thoroughly deserved it was too – albeit with a touch of comedy into the bargain.

Given the journey that Steve Evans’s side had negotiated at a fair rate of knots in the space of two unforgettable seasons under his command, a dose of reality for Millers fans, especially in the unforgiving Championship, was inevitable.

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The hosts went into last night’s game on the back of their longest run without a win under the Scot.

But that mark was ripped up, thanks to first-half goals from Kari Arnason and Luciano Becchio as the Millers claimed their most prized scalp of their Championship season so far, against a side expected to be at the business end come the Spring.

The season may not yet be two months old, but Evans has laboured consistently about the Millers not getting their just deserts so far.

There was no cause for bemoaning his side’s lot last night and against opponents he called the most auspicious to call in at the New York Stadium in its relatively short history, he got a big result and performance.

Fortune also had the good grace to shine upon them by way of a gifted second goal for Becchio – expect to see plenty of TV footage of that in the coming days.

But, in truth, they did not really need it in a performance full of endeavour, with the proven streetwise Championship operators whom Evans has acquired showing Millers fans just why they were brought in.

Becchio and Paul Green headed that list, although a number of last year’s heroes, including Alex Revell, goalscorer Arnason and several others, were not too far behind.

After giving Ipswich the equivalent of a second-half pummelling on Saturday, albeit in defeat at Portman Road, the mission for the Millers was a repeat of that high-powered offering from the off, with the right outcome at the end of proceedings.

They carried that out to the letter in a first period when Rovers were immediately rattled and, at times, mauled, with their lack of ease spectacularly manifested in a crazy second goal on 32 minutes which will provide Jason Steele and Ryan Tunnicliffe with nightmares in the days to come.

Incessant pressing by Ben Pringle, a work ethic shared by his colleagues in a turbo-charged first period, harassed former Barnsley loanee Tunnicliffe and instead of doing the sensible thing and clearing his lines, he tried to play his way out of trouble.

His loose pass put Steele in a heap of bother and the goalkeeper, on loan from Middlesbrough, saw his clearance cannon into the net off Becchio.

A damning defensive performance it may have been by Rovers, but credit belonged to the Millers, who had their foot firmly on the throat of the Lancastrian club throughout and displayed quality along with intent.

The perfect start arrived five minutes in and it was a portent of things to come with Rovers’ flaky rearguard failing to clear their lines from Paul Taylor’s corner and Arnason firing home low past Steele, in composed fashion.

Lee Frecklington then fired into the side-netting before a sweeping move ended in Becchio’s downward header flashing inches wide following Alex Revell’s fine cross.

Blackburn, aside from one or two promptings from Ben Marshall, brought little to the table, with Jordan Rhodes and Rudy Gestede feeding off scraps.

One Marshall free-kick which flew into the side-netting caused temporary alarm, but their evening went from bad to worse on two fronts in the space of a minute.

After top-scorer Gestede was forced off with injury, his replacement Luke Varney had barely entered the fray when Rovers conceded in truly madcap fashion.

Gary Bowyer may appear one of the more undemonstrative managers, but it was self-evident a few choice words would have been said at the interval and it triggered a Rovers response.

Adam Collin grasped Shane Duffy’s header from Tunnicliffe’s corner before Varney just failed to convert at full-stretch.

After holding firm, the Millers went close to a third with Revell’s piledriver tipped away by Steele, before the home striker hooked another effort just wide. The hitherto anonymous Rhodes then volleyed wide of a gaping goal before Duffy’s header was cleared off the line by Pringle.

Rhodes then saw an acrobatic effort held by Collin, before substitute Wordsworth nearly applied the gloss with a third.

Rotherham United: Collin; Richardson, Broadfoot (Morgan 10), Arnason, Skarz; P Taylor (Wordsworth 60), Frecklington, Green, Pringle; Revell (Bowery 83), Becchio. Unused substitutes: Loach, Hall, Derbyshire, Clarke-Harris.

Blackburn Rovers: Steele; Marshall, Hanley, Duffy, Olsson; Taylor C (Henley 76), Tunnicliffe, Evans, Conway (King 45); Gestede (Varney 32), Rhodes. Unused substitutes: Eastwood, Kilgallon, Williamson, Songo’o.

Referee: S Hooper (Wiltshire).