THREE second half goals by visitors Southend United killed off Rotherham United’s hopes of a home victory in the last match of manager Steve Evans’ stadium ban.
The visitors arrived on a remarkable run in this neck of the woods as they hadn’t lost any of the last eight away games to the Millers.
The last time they did lose in Rotherham was back in 1980 when the Millers won 2-1 and both goals were penalties from Gerry Forrest.
Shearer was the first keeper in action.
Firstly he had to turn over an awkward centre from Clohessy and from the ensuing corner he palmed the ball away from the danger area as it swung beyond the far post.
Rotherham’s first threat saw O’Connor out wide, in space and with time to deliver into the penalty area. Strangely he elected to try and find Pringle further down the touchline and put the ball out for a goal kick.
There was a definite threat when Martin robbed Hunt inside the Southend half and set off towards the Rotherham penalty area. However, Sharps showed all his experience to firstly hold him up and then usher him away from danger.
Rotherham then went close. Odejayi and Cresswell tussled for possession inside the area. the ball squirted towards Pringle and then went via Odejayi to Ainsworth who fired a low 18 yarder just a whisker wide.
Just past the half hour Southend thought they had gone in front when Cresswell won in the air from a free kick and as the ball travelled towards the far post Assombalonga touched the ball into the net from a couple of yards but the offside flag went up.
At half time Ainsworth was replaced by Nardiello who went up front with Pringle moving to the right.
It was Pringle who came in from the right to line up a shooting opportunity for O’Connor from 20 yards which Cresswell threw himself in front of. Instantly Evans had a goalbound shot blocked by Clohessy. Possession was retained, Harris delivered a tempting cross to the far post where Odejayi appeared to be dragged down by Martin when he had a clear run at the ball.
The Southend man seemed a touch fortunate to get away with things and Odejayi’s complaint to the ref was in vain. An excellent covering header by Hunt stopped Leonard reaching a Tomlin centre six yards out.
However there was no escape on 52 minutes when the Millers went behind.
A good centre from Hurst was headed away by Sharps. Martin picked it up on the left and delivered a lovely cross towards the far post where ASSOMBALONGA headed in.
Minutes later Odejayi was replaced by Denton.
Rotherham made their final substitution with Noble replacing Evans. However, before the substitution could have any effect Rotherham fell further behind.
Again right back Clohessy went raiding. His low centre was missed by Tomlin but came to ASSOMBALONGA who smartly made a bit of space for himself before striking a firm finish from 12 yards high into the net.
Assombalonga should have had his hat trick but shot wide.
Worse followed for the crumbling Millers when MARTIN headed Southend’s third from almost on the line after Shearer had brilliantly turned a shot on to the bar from Assombalonga.
Rotherham were in disarray and for the first time this season the disbelieving home fans were disgruntled.
Ex-Millers and Owls skipper Coughlan, now Southend’s assistant manager, went on for Cresswell with 10 minutes left.
ROTHERHAM UTD: Shearer, Hunt, Sharps, Morgan, Harris, Ainsworth, Taylor, O’Connor, Evans, Pringle, Odejayi. Subs: Warrington, Tonge, Bradley, Noble, Nardiello, Agard, Denton.
SOUTHEND UTD: Smith, Clohessy, Cresswell, Barker, Straker, Timlin, Hurst, Leonard, Martin, Assombalonga, Tomlin. Subs: Coughlin, Eastwood, Clerk-Harris, Bentley, Paxman, Benyon, Woodyard.
Referee: Tony Harrington (Cleveland)