IT’S been a very long and certainly winding road for the Millers faithful who have followed their team every step of the way since the opening away game on that glorious August day at Plymouth (4-1 win and top spot).
It has definitely been a long, long way too. They may be League Two but this has been Premier League in the travelling charts for the Millers loyalists and no Rotherham United team or supporters have ever had to clock so many miles on their travels to a season’s away games.
One colleague has clocked it across the 23 games as covering roughly 6,700 miles, with the so-called local derbies having been Bradford City and Burton.
Mind you, there’ll be some Millers fans quick to tell you that every game has been ‘away’ for the last four seasons!
So, as they braved the wind and rain at Aldershot, those who stuck it out deserved the reward of a game like this and the encouragement that a Millers display like this should give them, particularly with signings on the horizon.
A pity they couldn’t have seen a Rotherham win as well to round off all those miles.
They certainly looked stitched on for it throughout a vibrant first-half display and suggested they could still win it up to about the last 15 minutes, but even the most ardent of those fans would acknowledge that Aldershot looked the team likeliest to win at the end.
Of course, what this result did was finally put to bed any further tenuous play-off talk.
It’s been obvious for a while that they wouldn’t be making the top seven not least because they haven’t been good enough when it came to the crunch.
What might have happened had the managerial change been made even just a few games earlier who knows, although that’s not to overlook the fact that Darren Patterson’s excellent brief spell in charge sparked a four wins in five run that did just get them back on the fringe.
Outside the play-offs then and by a few points. That certainly wasn’t in the brochure we were handed last July!
No one wants games to be played in the rain all the time but when you have conditions like they were at Aldershot, with a soaked pitch, then it often leads to a fast-paced affair with mistakes occurring and adding to the uncertainty and the excitement.
You certainly had to admit this was pretty entertaining stuff all told and it was definitely exciting for the home fans - if heart-stopping for the Millers - in the finale.
However, there wouldn’t have been such a finale but for home keeper Jamie Young who made several fine saves at full stretch - and full stretch was how to describe Aldershot’s defence in Rotherham’s opening salvo and much of the first half.
They rampaged down the considerable slope combining power and purpose with some slick work and on 10 minutes Gareth Evans was clumsily toppled by Darren Jones. With regular penalty-taker Lewis Grabban missing after suffering illness in the week, Evans took responsibility calmly and effectively.
Ben Pringle, who played on the right this time, had Young tipping behind his 22-yarder before Peter Vincenti’s scrambled equaliser on 20 minutes.
Minutes later Jason Taylor had a header cleared off the line from a Pringle corner, Alex Revell powered one just over and Aldershot had plenty to deal with.
The lead on the half-hour came when Sam Hoskins moved onto Revell’s flick and his intent seemed to be to put a ball into the danger area towards the back post. It couldn’t have gone better because it drifted on to that post and in. Did he mean it? His facial reaction as he turned round suggested not but little goalscorers don’t mind how they go in!
A brilliant volley from Revell was tipped behind by Young right on half-time and when excellent defending by Herd prevented Evans finishing off a Hoskins-Revell move Rotherham suggested they could continue in the same vein.
But Guy Madjo’s point-blank header following a corner had Aldershot level on 57 minutes and it became either/or after this.
There was some scrambling defence from Rotherham and some scares while Schofield wasted his own good work and Evans forced another good save from Young.
The Hoskins disallowed goal on 72 minutes was a talking point but late on, with both down to 10 men after after two yellows for both Newey (80) and sub Jordan (83), Aldershot, urged on for a winning last home game, had the Millers hanging on.
Certainly it could have been lost in stoppage time when Connolly blazed over from six yards and then when Tonge shed possession near his area, in a manner that left Steve Evans apoplectic with rage, Mekki’s low shot was the winner but for Warrington’s fingertips.
So, just one more ‘away’ game left!