Rotherham United 2 Preston North End 1: Under-strength Millers hang on for crucial victory

Will Vaulks scored Rotherham United's opening goal.
Will Vaulks scored Rotherham United's opening goal.
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No late drama this time, no late equaliser to deny them as there had been against Bolton and QPR.

This time Rotherham United hung on to three precious Championship points to halt what was rapidly looking like an inexorable slide towards the bottom of the table.

In that time Bolton and QPR had both snatched injury-time equalisers at the New York Stadium as the Millers promising start to life back in the Championship started to unravel.

But thanks to a thunderbolt from Will Vaulks and a well-placed header from Michael Smith, Rotherham won for the first time in 10 games and just the second time in 19 second-tier fixtures to climb out of the relegation zone.

Paul Warne's men were lucky to be level at the break, never mind ahead.

Preston carved them open at will, and Paul Huntington, Tom Barkhuizen and Graham Burke should all have scored as Rotherham's backline was pulled in every direction.

But Preston's profligacy would return to haunt them when on the cusp of half-time, Vaulks unleashed a thunderbolt of a free-kick from 25 yards that beat Declan Rudd and nearly took the net off its moorings.

The goal gave Rotherham a little more belief in the second half and they doubled their lead 14 minutes from time with a well-executed goal.

Joe Newell - one of two half-time changes made by Warne to liven up a side shorn of Clark Robertson through injury - played a delightful cross to the back post and Smith met it with a towering header that he guided across Rudd.

Nothing is ever simple at the New York Stadium however, and within 90 seconds Preston had ensured for a nervy conclusion when Lukas Nmeche cushioned a ball into the box and beat Marek Rodak from six yards out.

But Preston were not the threat they had been in the first half and Rotherham hung on.