Rotherham United: When will the away misery end? Blackburn Rovers 4 Millers 2
The three goals conceded at Aston Villa and then at Brighton a few days later you can almost forgive. Big clubs, among the favourites for promotion.
The four shipped against Barnsley on an afternoon of Oakwell second-half humiliation you hoped were just an awful one-off derby-day aberration.
But four at Blackburn? Four against a side who began the day winless and bottom of the Championship? Four against an outfit making their worst start to season for 20 years?
Where do the Millers go from here? Back to the training ground to work hard, said manager Alan Stubbs, pointing the finger at “individual errors” for the umpteenth time this season.
It’s going to take a monumental effort to fix the away form which is giving his team no chance of escaping the bottom reaches of the table.
Rotherham’s four matches on the road have all ended in comprehensive defeat. 14 goals against, just two scored.
Afterwards, Stubbs had just as much a go at his team as Blackburn - a very average side spiced up by front-two pairing Marvin Emnes and Sam Gallagher - had during the game itself.
“The players have to do better than they’re doing,” he said. “If I was to say anything different I would make myself look an absolute idiot. They have to look at themselves.
“We are making absolute basic mistakes. It’s not a good predicament to be in.
“My patience was already starting to run thin and now it’s running even thinner. These players, they get opportunites, and they can have no complaints if they’re left out of the team.”
Craig Conway, Emnes and Ben Marshall were all given too much time and space to pick shots from distance before Gallagher added a tap-in fourth in time added on when Kelvin Wilson was muscled off the ball by Emnes.
“To be fair to the lad, he puts the first one in the top corner, which is a great strike, but we should have been a lot closer to him,” said Stubbs.
“The other three goals, I can’t defend.”
Sadly, neither could his team.
IZZY AND DANNY
Rotherham had taken a nine-ninth lead when Danny Ward latched on to Izzy Brown’s sweet pass inside a defender to slide the ball past Luke Steele.
Brown was behind all of the Millers’ best moves, while Ward gave Stubbs’ men brief hope of a comeback when he reduced the arrears to 3-2 in the 82nd minute with his second goal, a good header from Stephen Kelly’s right-flank cross.
The same duo had combined to almost give Ward another goal before the break, and their link-up was the only bright spot of an otherwise dire Millers day.
Other players were off form and/or second best to their opponents, while one or two might want to question their appetite for the battle. The Millers were better for the 51st-minute introduction of Lee Frecklington and Jerry Yates and withdrawal of Scott Allan and Greg Halford.
SHAKE IT UP
Trailing 2-1 at half-time, Rotherham needed to start the second period well but let in the killer third goal 15 seconds after the restart. None of their players touched the ball before goalkeeper Lee Camp was picking Marshall’s shot out of the net.
“You say to them at half-time, the next goal is important,” Stubbs said. “To concede so quickly after what we’ve said in the dressing room ... it’s a very poor goal.”
Throughout the match, the Millers sat back, lacked urgency, didn’t press hard enough, gave Blackburn freedom to play, and thus the chance to build on the best display of the season in the midweek draw with Nottingham Forest was lost.
Poor individual performances aren’t helping, but there is a collective lack of defensive solidity that needs to be addressed.
“You’ve got have a bit more about you than to keep making the same mistakes week in, week out,” the manager added. “I’m sick of saying the same thing.”
His frustration showed in his actions as well as his words.
At the final whistle, he stood by the tunnel. Handshakes for the referee and other officials. Nothing for his own players as they trooped forlornly past.