Rotherham United: Same old defensive horrors ... Birmingham City 4 Millers 2

Alan StubbsAlan Stubbs
Alan Stubbs
Just over a year ago, a match at Birmingham City heralded the departure of a Rotherham United manager.

Thirteen months on, events at St Andrews conspired to leave another Millers boss facing questions about his future.

Steve Evans’ men won 2-0 in the Midlands on Saturday September 26 2015 but two days later the man who had led them from League Two to the Championship was gone.

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This time around, Alan Stubbs watched his side lose for the sixth successive time in the second tier as the calamitous defending which has blighted them all season cost them yet again.

Stubbs has been brought in with a long-term brief to overhaul the structure of the club, yet Rotherham are rooted to the foot of the table and have just one win and six points from 13 league fixtures.

“I’ve come to Rotherham and it’s a project,” he said. “It certainly hasn’t gone the way I wanted it to. But if you’re looking for a quitter, you’re talking to the wrong guy.”

After being 3-1 behind at the break, the Millers were by far the better side in the second half and pulled the score back to 3-2, but a Birmingham penalty six minutes from time ended any hope of a comeback.

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Loose defensive work made scoring far too easy for Birmingham in the first half, and goalkeeper Lee Camp gave away the late spot-kick that decided the match by needlessly bringing down substitute Che Adams.

“I feel that half the team are doing their jobs and half aren’t,” Stubbs added. “Our forwards scored two good goals and are entitled to feel they should be going home with some reward. We’ve been let down by some very poor defending.”

Lukas Jutkiewicz, a summer target for Rotherham, had been winning everything in the air for the home side but it was defender Michael Morrison who headed Birmingham into a 15th-minute lead.

The Millers’ defence had been disrupted two minutes earlier by the departure of centre-half Kelvin Wilson, to be replaced by Greg Halford, and Morrison had plenty of time to pick his spot.

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Jutkiewicz had already twice gone close with headers of his own, from a David Cotterill cross from the right and a Cotterill corner from the left.

Rotherham weren’t without a threat but Jon Taylor, twice, and Jake Forster-Caskey wasted perfect opportunites to put the ball into the Birmingham penalty area with poor deliveries.

Will Vaulks tried his luck with a 23rd-minute long-range effort that Blues goalkeeper Adam Legzdins needed two attempts to hold and three minutes later Danny Ward was close to an equaliser after a flowing move.

Izzy Brown found Taylor with a probing pass and the right winger’s low delivery was touched wide by the striker.

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Better was to come in the 31st minute when Ward fired the Millers level with a clinical finish.

Halford played a ball across goal and a lovely dummy by Forster-Caskey teed it up for the Millers’ leading scorer to dispatch the ball into the bottom far corner of the net.

However, Rotherham were level for only four minutes before that man, Jutkiewicz, rose unopposed after poor Millers defending to direct his header past keeper Lee Camp.

Two minutes before the break, the Millers’ evening grew worse as Halford, playing at right-back with Stephen Kelly at centre-half, gave up possession far too easily and Jacques Maghoma raced away to bury his shot.

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Stubbs had made three changes to the side which lost 3-1 at Norwich City last weekend, bringing in right-back Kelly, Wilson and central midfielder Forster-Caskey, with Halford, Joe Newell and Dael Fry dropping out.

The Millers gave themselves a lifeline in the 53rd minute when Taylor latched on to Ward’s header to shoot past Legzdins and five minutes later the Blues No 1 had to beat out a fizzing Izzy Brown effort.

Gary Rowett’s team were wobbling in the face of a sustained onsalught but, after Lee Frecklington had snatched at a good chance in the 80th minute for Rotherham, the Blues were breathing a sigh of relief as Cotterill dispatched their spot-kick.

Defeat meant a seventh straight away loss on the road since the start of the season and the Millers have shipped 23 goals in those matches.

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Their problem remains obvious but, for now, painfully unresolved.

Birmingham City (4-4-2): Legzdins; Spector, Morrison, Shotton, Grounds; Cotterill (Robinson 86), Kieftenbeld, Gleeson, Maghoma; Donaldson (Adams 73), Jutkiewicz (Brown 64). Subs not used: Kuszczak, Fabbrini, Wiggins, Stewart.

Rotherham United (4-5-1): Camp; Kelly, Wilson (Halford 13), Ball, Fisher; Taylor, Vaulks (Blackstock 84), Frecklington, Forster-Caskey, Brown; Ward. Price, Mattock, Forde, Newell, Allan.

Goals: Morrison 15, Jutkiewicz 35, Maghoma 43, Cotterill pen 84 (Birmingham); Ward 31, Taylor 53 (Rotherham).

Referee: Chris Kavanagh (Lancashire).

Attendance: 16,404 (272).