Millers match verdict: Blackburn 2 Rotherham United 1

Matt Derbyshire is congratulated after his goal for the Millers against Blackburn
Matt Derbyshire is congratulated after his goal for the Millers against Blackburn
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It was brave and it was bold, and it came close to paying off.

Rotherham United boss Steve Evans had seen enough just five minutes into the second half after watching his team be outplayed by Blackburn Rovers and threw on two subs.

Blackburn Rovers v Rotherham United - SkyBet Championship - 10th February 2015 - Rotherham's Steve Evans can't believe it as their penalty appeal is turned down

Blackburn Rovers v Rotherham United - SkyBet Championship - 10th February 2015 - Rotherham's Steve Evans can't believe it as their penalty appeal is turned down

Conor Newton and Ben Pringle were the men who paid the price, with Adam Hammill and Jack Hunt coming on.

It changed the game and the Millers equalised through Rovers old boy Matt Derbyshire in the 71st minute.

But with just four minutes remaining Jordan Rhodes was on hand to do what he does so often, poking home the winner from close range.

By then Rotherham were almost playing with 10 men. Evans had also brought on Danny Ward and used his quota of replacements, so when right-back Frazer Richardson suffered a suspected dislocated shoulder the defender had to remain in the fray, swapping places with right midfielder Hunt.

Blackburn Rovers v Rotherham United - SkyBet Championship - 10th February 2015 - Rotherham's Conor Newton fires the ball against Alex Baptiste for a good hand-ball shout

Blackburn Rovers v Rotherham United - SkyBet Championship - 10th February 2015 - Rotherham's Conor Newton fires the ball against Alex Baptiste for a good hand-ball shout

It was cruel, but in truth Evans’ men could have few complaints after being so poor for the first 50 minutes.

After their huge effort in the 2-0 win over Ipswich Town three days ago, they were off their game in the opening period, giving away possession far too easily against opponents who looked sharper than they did,

Rhodes headed just wide after five minutes and 11 had passed when he produced the game’s first effort on target, his shot being parried by Millers goalkeeper Adam Collin.

Evans’ men had a big shout for a spot-kicked waved away by referee Geoff Eltringham when Newton’s shot hit substitute Alex Baptiste’s arm.

The Millers were denied a clear penalty at home to Ipswich Town last Saturday but it didn’t matter as they scored in the same move.

Here it mattered hugely. It was a call which might have changed the game in the 33rd minutes as the visitors, seeing little of the ball, battled to work their way into the match.

Seven minutes later they were behind as Craig Conway cut inside Newton on the left and thumped a 20-yarder past Collin.

The goal had stemmed from left-back Zeki Fryers not connecting properly with a clearance hit into midfield and summed up all that was poor about the Millers’ first-half play.

Too many passes were going astray against a home side managed by former Miller Gary Bowyer, but Evans’ second-half gamble saw his side gaining more and more territory, and the finish by Derbyshire - his third goal in four games - was of the highest quality as he slid on to Paul Green’s cross to volley unstoppably past Rovers goalkeeper Jason Steele.

He did the decent thing and didn’t celebrate against the club he’s supported since childhood. But, boy, the Millers fans behind the goal certainly did.

It looked enough to land a valuable point, until Rhodes’ intervention.

Even then, the Millers might have secured a draw, Green somehow heading wide when it seemed easier to score from Hammill’s inviting cross.

But Blackburn had moments of their own. Rudy Gestede smacked the bar with a header and, with Rotherham going three at the back and sending Craig Morgan up front. there were gaps the home side failed to exploit.

Maybe the weekend heroics against the Tractor Boys took their toll here as it needed the fresh legs of Evans’ subs to galvanise the team. Defeat brought an end to the Millers’ three-match unbeaten run which had seen them climb away from the drop zone.

But, with no match this weekend, at least they now have a week to rejuvenate themselves before next Tuesday’s home clash with Derby County.

Blackburn Rovers (4-4-2): Steele,Lowe (Baptiste 20), Kilgallon, Hanley, Olsson, Cairney (Marshall 65), Evans, Spearing, Conway, Brown (Gestede 75), Rhodes. Subs: Eastwood, Spurr, King, Taylor.

Rotherham United (4-4-2): Collin, Richardson, Morgan, Arnason, Fryers, Newton (Hunt 50), Smallwood, Green, Pringle (Hammill 50), Sammon (Ward 67), Derbyshire. Subs: Thompson, Broadfoot, Frecklington, Bowery.

Referee: Geoff Eltringham (Tyne and Wear).

Attendance: 13,463.