THEY say you often learn more from a defeat and that’s likely to have been the case after the New York Stadium’s first reversal for the Millers.
After the euphoria of the opening game and the satisfaction from two wins against neighbouring clubs, this was a back-to-earth afternoon if only to serve as reminder that football is never plain sailing.
It was evident from early on that the Scottish Cup holders were a step up in class and would provide a much sterner test, which was certainly no bad thing.
Just a week away from their first Scottish Premier League game, Hearts were in no mood to treat it as any sort of easing-in game but more their rehearsal for the real thing.
After going behind at the start of the second half, Rotherham were unable to bridge the gap.
There weren’t many chances for either side but Hearts, with their centre backs in control, were good enough to combat what Rotherham tried to do and, in many areas, the Millers found themselves hurried into error. Hearts’ quickness, their closing down and reading of situations, meant the home side had to work hard for whatever they got.
Rotherham assistant manager Paul Raynor considered it “an excellent workout” for the Millers at this stage of their development.
“They moved the ball a lot sharper than us and did it quicker and we didn’t do enough in the final third,” said Raynor.
“We lacked a bit of sharpness but we’re a fortnight away from our first game, Hearts start next week.”
Hearts boss John McGlynn, who said it was “a magnificent stadium and a magnificent playing surface”, described it as “a right good workout” for his side.
“We watched them in midweek and they gave Doncaster a lot of problems but defensively we played well,” he said.
Rotherham’s best chance came after only seven minutes. Alex Revell challenged in the air and reacted first to the loose ball but, seemingly set to score, he didn’t make proper contact.
Michael O’Connor, in his first 45 minutes for the club, struck a free-kick wide before Rotherham lost Nicky Hunt with a hamstring injury - Mark Bradley played right back for the remainder.
The origin of Hearts’ winner on 48 minutes was an example of how Rotherham did get caught in possession or hurried. Ryan McGowan robbed David Noble 30 yards out, whipped over a cross from the right and John Sutton (brother of Chris) got in front of Ian Sharps to knock it in.
Rotherham’s instant response saw Ben Pringle’s free-kick touched on by Revell with Kari Arnason putting it inches wide at the wide far post. It was the closest all game.
Newcomer Kieran Agard nearly got to a threatening cross from Lionel Ainsworth and Agard had a dangerous run only for the keeper to cut out the cross.