It was a game of patience at the New York Stadium last night and Rotherham thought they’d dealt themselves the winning card on the hour only for a night of much frustration to end with them conceding a late penalty equaliser.
Tranmere, who had come to stifle the Millers, did precisely that until going behind and then their only on-target effort ensured that it was a third game without a win for the Millers.
As expected, there was a special welcome from the crowd for Ronnie Moore when he emerged before kick-off and he knew the significance of a good result in view of his side’s struggles.
But well before his appearance, there had been much debate amongst Millers fans about their team - almost unrecognisable from the one that would normally be sent out.
One match bans (Lee Frecklington, Michael O’Connor) illness (Kari Arnason) and dropped (Scott Shearer and Alex Revell) meant the Millers were stripped of five players who have all been first choice up to now.
It meant a league debut (and first home game) for Adam Collin in goal and a first start for Tom Eaves up front whilst Mark Bradley, now recognised as a right back, was in midfield - the position he was signed to play, ironically by Ronnie Moore.
The pattern of the game was clear from the start. Tranmere, set up 4-5-1, invited the Millers to break them down and Rotherham needed no second invitation. It took just 15 seconds for Ben Pringle to power in a shot which Fon Williams clawed away from the top corner.
The Welsh international ‘keeper was to earn his corn in the opening stages.
But, before any further saves he should have been picking the ball out of the net Daniel Nardiello heading wide from close range from Pringle’s cross.
Inside 60 seconds Fon Williams went flying across goal to turn aside efforts from Rob Milsom and Craig Morgan before Kieran Agard rippled the side netting. Even closer was Eaves with a header which was cleared off the line from Pringle’s corner.
Tranmere, funnelling back, filled their final third of the pitch, but finally made a decent attack themselves, new signing Steve Jennings putting a header over the top.
Nardiello tried to wriggle through but his shot was deflected wide as the Millers kept pushing to try and find a way through.
Pringle thundered one into the North End and a slick Eaves-Milsom link opened a route for Nardiello but he fired too close to the keeper.
Then, on the hour, the breakthrough with a fine finish.
A corner was cleared but Pringle curled the ball back in, it dropped over Taylor and Agard used chest control, turned and fired low into the corner.
Bradley, who enjoyed his return to midfield, curled an effort just over but the Tranmere mindset, as it had to, had now changed and with two extra attackers on they set about testing Rotherham’s nerve and their defensive mettle.
The Millers were seven minutes away when a penalty denied them, former Millers loanee Abdulai Bell-Baggie tumbled by Joe Skarz and Ryan Lowe slotted Tranmere’s only on-target effort of the game from the spot.
Sub Matt Tubbs could have been the matchwinner but drilled an 18 yard chance inches wide and there was no doubt who was the happier manager!