LET’S get the good bit out of the way first.
At one stage of the first half - indeed more than one - as they carved up Crawley again, I was wracking my brain trying to think when I’d seen Rotherham United play as well as this away from home all season.
Perhaps the first 20 minutes at Torquay back in the good old days of September. In contrast to the sluggish, mentally scarred start of last Tuesday, here they were bright and lively and positive and dangerous. In fact, pretty good. But, to their utter frustration, wasteful.
Where did this performance come from and generated by what? To say Crawley were second best, first half, was stating the obvious.
So, you have to credit the players, and those behind them, that amidst the upheaval and the debilitating effect that fading play-off hopes can have they should perform as well as they did for, well, 43 minutes.
That they didn’t do what counts, put the ball in the onion bag, was down to a combination of error, bad luck and last-ditch rescuing of near-hopeless situations by the home side.
When Crawley punished them with a lightning break just before half-time, it was cruel, to be honest.
The second goal on 56 minutes really stitched them up and by the time of the third goal ten minutes later the tide was going the other way. The last 25 minutes were a non-event with even Rotherham’s efforts for a consolation seemingly doomed to fail.
It would have been instructive had there been any potential future manager watching (didn’t see anybody from the lengthy list).
Chairman Tony Stewart wasn’t there either. Might have been drawing up a shortlist or even sorting out a couple of interviews. Who knows? He isn’t a guy who hangs around when something needs doing!
Certainly he wants to get this one right and one suspects the new boss will get the chance to assess the squad in the final few games, as Andy Scott did a year ago.
Scott was eventually hoist on his own petard of 20 signings. Stewart, uncertain where things were heading while being concerned, not encouraged, by playing developments, decided to cut Scott loose.
It’s a big appointment, not least because of the new ground and all it entails. And because the longer you stay down, and the league position says you are poorer than preceding seasons, then the harder it is to get out.
From the kick-off Rotherham played some good stuff. Desperate last-ditch challenges denied Ben Pringle and Gareth Evans when they were set to score. Alex Revell put a great lobbing opportunity off target with the keeper in no man’s land but was unlucky with the sidefoot volley on to the bar from Kieron Cadogan’s superb, inch-perfect diagonal delivery which would have been a goal to savour.
Michel Kuipers denied an Evans’ free-kick, Pringle nearly scored and, although Crawley had their moments too, Clarke’s goal from a Torres break was real harsh on the Millers.
Alexander’s penalty, after Jason Taylor fouled Bulman, really sparked off the home side and they threatened more goals and might well have had them either side of Mills being allowed an easy, stooping header from a corner, a goal which really rubbed it in.