Ajayi proves his worth in vital win in survival race

Around 18 months ago Rotherham United boss Paul Warne slapped a £10million price tag on Semi Ajayi.

Sunday, 3rd March 2019, 12:38 pm
Updated Sunday, 3rd March 2019, 12:42 pm
Semi Ajayi is mobbed after putting the Millers ahead against Blackburn

That might have been a tad optimistic, but the Nigeria international has been one of the stories of the season and his two goals against Blackburn might end up being worth a few million to the Millers.

The defender, who is beginning to make his name as a sitting midfielder, scored twice, with Ryan Williams bagging the other, in a 3-2 win over Blackburn that ended a nine-game drought and provided a huge boost in the Millers' fight against Championship survival.

Ryan Williams is congratulated after scoring

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For a long period on Saturday it looked like moving them out of the bottom three, but Reading's late winner at Ipswich scuppered that.

Still they kept pace with the Royals and also dragged Millwall back into the dogfight that is sure to have plenty of twists and turns in the final straight of the season.

The visit of Blackburn, whose form is stuttering, had a sense of being must-win for the Millers, so to go ahead with less than two minutes on the clock was a boost.

Ajayi, who struck a vital equaliser at Reading last week, climbed highest from Will Vaulks' throw-in and nodded his side in front.

There was a feeling of 'here we go again' as Warne's men let another lead slip after the restart, with Amari'i Bell hooking home soon after the restart.

But they were in no mood to allow another opportunity pass by and Williams' first goal in a year restored their lead just before the hour as he slammed home from close range.

Then an easy three points looked like being on the cards as Ajayi's second, another accomplished header, gave the Millers a two-goal cushion for just the third time this season.

But Rotherham wouldn't be Rotherham if they didn't make hard work of it and Charlie Mulgrew's injury-time penalty, awarded after a Billy Jones foul on Danny Graham, ensured a nail-biting few seconds, with Sheffield Wednesday's late goal a fortnight ago still painfully fresh in the memory.

Warne said: “Overall I am really proud of the points and the lads for digging in. All we can do is try and win and it looks like we have pulled other teams into it.

“We were a bit nervy and it sounds a stupid thing to say, but I think we scored too early.

“I have been critical of the team for not taking chances but we took 100 per cent of our chances. For us to beat them gives the lads a bit of confidence.”