ROTHERHAM 1 SOUTHEND 2 - MATCH REPORT

IT'S a funny old game, Saint, as Greavsie used to say. Unfortunately, no laughing matter for Millers followers as League Two took another of its twists.

Funny, it is, how things like this happen.Funny that their last league defeat at the end of October should be against Southend - and, eight unbeaten league games later, who should be next up at Don Valley Stadium? When that stat filtered across me before the game, it brought a prescient shudder. It couldn't could it? Funny how it does, though.

Funny old game? Try the start of this one because the team that kicked off actually fell a goal behind in just 32 seconds. Takes some doing does that one!

Rotherham kicked off and it went out to Kevin Ellison on the left. He never seemed to consider going forward and it went backwards to left-back Tom Newey. Back again to Andy Warrington who, kicking into a strong, blustery wind, curled it into touch better than Jonny Wilkinson could have done.

Southend made the most of the throw-in and right-back Sean Clohessy delivered a telling ball into the heart of the area and right winger Ryan Hall popped up there with a smart volley.

Talk about giving the opposition a goal start!

After just 12 minutes the Millers weren't only going into the wind but uphill as well when Blair Sturrock was unchallenged as he headed in Hall's right-side corner - his first goal since the winner against Rotherham at Roots Hall. Yeah, funny old game!

Rotherham's quick response which saw Ryan Taylor smartly play in Nicky Law was one of the few penetrative moments they managed. The shot was turned behind.

But this was a half of toil and little to show for it and, overall, none of Rotherham's front four really fired. Indeed Marcus Marshall, after being such a threat recently, was taken off at half-time.

Quite simply Southend's experienced central defenders Graham Coughlan and Chris Barker gaffered things in their part of the pitch and a bit beyond too.

Ryan Taylor's recent form ought to have given Coughlan something to think about but the veteran defender, now winding down his career, knew what it was about and bossed matters with solid, old-fashioned defending that bashed out a message.

Barker, brother of Richie, was excellent and equally forthright alongside him and, with Adam Le Fondre clearly in a form dip right now, the Millers made little headway through the middle.

Yes, the conditions were difficult, but the Millers may well ponder the fact that Southend's delivery into the danger area in the first half with the wind aiding them was of a vastly superior quality to just about anything Rotherham produced.

Too often they appeared to spurn the opportunity to put the ball into the area in the second half. It may not have been easy for judgement but, in such conditions, anything can happen.

But they could have been out of it by half-time anyway. Warrington made a tremendous stop from a Louis Soares header whilst Soares and Barry Corr, between them, managed to fluff a clear opportunity.

Rotherham almost had a lifeline minutes from half-time when Coughlan's headed back-pass looped over his advancing keeper and bounced inches wide of the empty net with the keeper frantically racing back.

With Mark Randall on at half-time and getting on the ball, Rotherham began the second half as if they meant business and Dale Tonge had a shot saved.

The goal which gave them a lifeline came on the hour when Nick Fenton pounced at close range following a Law corner.

Half an hour to go, wind going their way, it was all set for a big finish and a run and shot from Jason Taylor indicated they could save it at least.

But Southend were not being really disturbed enough until the introduction of Paul Warne with 14 minutes to go.

Inside 60 seconds he had swooped onto a Tonge pass and forced Morris into a good, low save. Then, finding himself free at the far post, he spurned the clear shooting opportunity for yet another Millers pass that Southend blocked.

Then Warne, aiming to put Law into a shooting position, just put too much on the pass, forcing the midfielder wide and into making a cross the keeper claimed.

Deep into stoppage time it was frustrating not funny when the team seeking an equaliser ended up going from the edge of the opposition area back into the centre circle.

PS: Third-placed Millers are third from bottom when it comes to goals conceded at home because only Barnet and Stockport have conceded more. As for away goals conceded, the Millers are second best in the division! Funny old game.

Boss's View

A goal down inside 35 seconds when we've kicked off takes some doing. Why the hell did we go back to our goalkeeper after the kick off and we're against the wind as well. It doesn't make sense.

Going two down after only 12 minutes means there's a lot to do. But I didn't think we played at the tempo we can do.

Yes, we can complain about the wind and it made it difficult one way and another but it's the same for both sides.

We never really lifted the tempo.

There's one or two not quite at it at the moment and Alf isn't quite at his best. It's rare not to see him have a shot.

He'll play himself through it and let's hope it's soon and he gets back to the Alf we know and the Alf we need.

Got a view? Leave a comment below.

CLICK HERE FOR The Star subscription offer. Use offer code STAOP0001 to get 25% off.

Follow The Star on Twitter and Facebook:

For breaking news and sport follow The Star on Twitter at www.twitter.com/sheffieldstar and Facebook at www.facebook.com/sheffieldstar.

JOIN THE STAR READER PANEL: The Star is YOUR newspaper, so tell us what you think about it and what you want to see - CLICK HERE.

Don't miss our daily pull-outs - only in the The Star: Monday Star Sport, Tuesday Class Act; Wednesday Business; Thursday Grassroots; Friday Time Out; Saturday Retro. Subscribe to The Star - CLICK HERE

READ MORE

Subscribe to The Star or Green 'Un

Visit our Matchday Centre for free live coverage of every match

ASHES GUIDE: View our FREE Ashes webmag guide online - CLICK HERE.

Football headlines. Football gossip. Blades news Owls news Reds news. Millers news. More rugby. More boxing. Sports columnists.

All sport categories

Watch Premiership highlights, international football, golf, tennis, darts and much more - click here