Away form dip is hitting Millers

Vital goals: But Adam Le Fondre has struggled to maintain his own high standards in recent away games.
Vital goals: But Adam Le Fondre has struggled to maintain his own high standards in recent away games.
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A 1-0 defeat at Port Vale resonates, quite painfully, with all Millers followers who know their Rotherham United history.

At this distance, no one can tell what effect the one the promotion-seeking Millers suffered on Tuesday will have come May - it may not have any at all, either way!.

But it did when that same scoreline was suffered at Vale Park in the penultimate round of fixtures at the end of the 1954/55 season on a day when Rotherham, through club stalwart Norman ‘Nobby’ Noble, missed a crucial penalty.

Assuming that spot kick miss stopped them from drawing, the extra point not gleaned was to cost Rotherham promotion to the top flight - yes, what is now the Premier League,

They went and beat Liverpool 6-1 in their final match only to be pipped when Birmingham, a few days later, won their last match 5-1 at Doncaster Rovers to go level on points with the Millers but get promoted instead of them on goal average as it was then.

Rotherham, of course, have never been as close to the top flight since although there are those who will point to the challenge in 1982. There were no missed penalties on Tuesday, just a missed opportunity against a side hardly in prime form - they’d lost 7 of their previous eight league games. A third straight away defeat leaves question marks against their ability to go out and handle tough away matches.

Defensively they were sound enough, being only beaten by a stunning strike. But this latest away defeat follows losses at Wycombe and Stevenage (no goals in either) and only in the second 45 minutes at Wycombe have they looked a dangerous attacking unit when they were unfortunate not to score.

Despite having plenty of possession on Tuesday, as at Stevenage, the attacking unit was simply not sharp enough or decisive enough and there were too many disappointing aspects to their game in the final third.

Without Adam Le Fondre’s goals, Rotherham wouldn’t be where they are, but clubs look to their big players to make an impact particularly in the big games and he has struggled to do that although he is certainly not alone in that respect and wasn’t the only one at Vale Park.

There will be more big questions for the Millers with another Tuesday night away game next week and it might well prove the toughest of the past four, Gillingham have hit form and are formidable at home.

Before then they can hold onto third place at home to fellow promotion challengers Crewe who fared much worse this week, beaten 6-2 at Northampton.