Rotherham United: Pressure and problems mount up... Millers 1 Cardiff City 2

Rotherham are pegged back as Rickie Lambert heads the equaliser. Pictures: Dean Atkins
Rotherham are pegged back as Rickie Lambert heads the equaliser. Pictures: Dean Atkins
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Once, it can happen. Twice, maybe a forgiveable mistake. Three times is becoming a worrying trend. Four? Rotherham United, we have a problem.

For the fourth time in five Championship home matches, the Millers worked their way into the lead and failed see out the game.

Only on this occasion it was worse. Alan Stubbs side gave up their unbeaten run on their own territory.

The other three times, against Wolves, Bristol City and Nottingham Forest, Rotherham at least took a point.

Saturday brought a damaging defeat against Cardiff City, the team who arrived at New York Stadium in bottom spot.

The Millers’ troubles on the road are well documented - four matches, four losses, 14 goals conceded - so the pressure is really on to get results at home.

Scorer Izzy Brown

Scorer Izzy Brown

Izzy Brown slotted across goal and home on the hour mark to give them the lead, but Cardiff’s former England striker, Rickie Lambert, scored with a trademark back-post header 13 minutes later and added a lucky second with a deflected shot six minutes after that.

Stubbs’ side, who have slid into the drop zone, can’t afford results like this. They didn’t deserve to lose, but the brutal, sobering reality is that they did, and in a way that is becoming horribly, woundingly familiar.

If you don’t win at home against a team who are at the foot of the table after four straight defeats, when are you going to win?

For the second successive week, they encountered opposition who started the match propping up the division. The visit to Blackburn Rovers last Saturday brought a 4-2 loss. Now the home record has gone.

Alan Stubbs watches proceedings

Alan Stubbs watches proceedings

Rotherham United, we have a problem.

PRESSURE POINT

Pressure on the home form, pressure on Stubbs.

The manager acknowledged afterwards questions can be legitimately asked about his position with the Millers on six points in 23rd place after his nine league games in charge, but he insists he’s the man to lead a revival.

Greg Halford

Greg Halford

“There’s always pressure, whether you’re at the top winning games or at the bottom losing games,” he said. “That’s part and parcel of the game.

“Yes, because we’ve not had the results there is extra pressure. I can understand your line of questioning completely. It’s a natural question. I have no problem with that. If you don’t get results, the pressure can build.

“Of course I’m confident I can do the job. It’s why the club brought me here in the first place.”

But he admits he has no magic fix and that any recovery will have to come through work rather than a wand.

“There’s only one way to turn it round and that’s to keep working hard and keep doing the work on the training ground,” he added.

“You don’t get out of it by feeling sorry for yourself. I don’t have a magic wand.

“At home - not away from home - we should realistically be sitting on potentially 12/13 points. I think that’s a fair reflection.

“When we concede the goal, you can feel a nervous anxiety creep in. We have to take that out of our game, stick our chests out and get on the ball.”

HEAD UP, HEAD DOWN

Dael Fry is a ball-playing central defender with real potential, but there will be tough days for the Middlesbrough loanee, who has just turned 19, as he learns his trade.

He was up against a wily, classy veteran in 34-year-old Lambert and stuck to his task, yet he was “old-manned” by his 34-year-old adversary with a nudge here and a pull there.

Several times Lambert won headers without even jumping, just by planting his body in the right place, backing in and leaving Fry trying in vain to find a way on to the ball.

Fry’s best moment was clever header straight into Brown’s path to set up Rotherham’s goal. His worst was a header at the other end, this time from Lambert who eased him out of the way to nod the Bluebirds back into the game.

“It will be a big learning curve for Dael playing against someone like that,” Stubbs said. “Rickie used his experience and looked to pull on Dael at every opportunity. For the goal, he’s just leaned on him enough to get that glancing header.”

LUCK WHO’S NEXT

Rotherham, who came close to first-half goals with saved shots from Fry and Danny Ward and a Brown effort which went just wide, seemed in little danger until Joe Mattock was judged to have fouled Lambert who then scored the equaliser from the subsequent set-piece as Stubbs protested to the fourth official.

The second goal, coming off Darnell Fisher and wrongfooting goalkeeper Lee Camp, was even softer than the free-kick.

Striker Dexter Blackstock came off the bench for his debut with the Millers behind and almost scored with his first touch but was denied by a good block.

All three incidents involved the bad luck indicative of Rotherham’s poor fortune on the day, reckoned Stubbs.

“Hopefully, if there’s a little bit of justice for the players, it turns very quickly,” he said. “Anybody with a football mind will say the players deserved more out of the game than they got. It was a really harsh result on the team.”

However, next up for the Millers are Huddersfield Town, Newcastle United, Norwich City and Birmingham City, or, put another way, fixtures against clubs currently in second, fourth, first and sixth place.

Rotherham United, we have a problem.

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