MATCH HIGHLIGHTS - Brighton 2 Rotherham Utd 1: Millers and super-fan John are out of luck

Jonson Clarke-Harris  heads the Millers back into it at Brighton. Photo:  James Boardman
Jonson Clarke-Harris heads the Millers back into it at Brighton. Photo: James Boardman
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Super-fan John Norris watched his 1,000 consecutive competitive Rotherham United match in the VIP surroundings of the Brighton directors box.

An audience with Millers chairman Tony Stewart, meal, drinks, the works, but how he must have been frustrated by the fare on offer.

No, not the posh nosh. The painful manner in which Steve Evans’ men slid to defeat at the Amex Stadium.

The 51-year-old - who last missed a match in 1996 - received a warm ovation, too when his achievement was announced to the home crowd at half-time.

And there was something to applaud about his beloved side as they came out after the break and did their best to take the game to their impressive opponents.

That could have ended in the 67th minute when Dale Stephens put the home side 2-0 ahead with a low 20-yarder, but the Millers stuck to their task and a header from substitute Jonson Clarke-Harris four minutes later - only 11 minutes after coming on - put them back in the match.

He connected with Joe Newell’s free-kick from the right and suddenly the atmosphere at the Amex changed from jubilation to consternation.

Evans had already brought on Danny Ward and later Greg Halford entered proceedings as an extra striker as Rotherham chased an equaliser, but the home side saw out the game, threatening a third goal more than the visitors threatened a second.

A fifth loss in seven league games leaves the Millers still at the foot of the Championship and with nothing to show for a committed second-half effort.

This was top v bottom, but the difference in positions didn’t always show. The Seagulls were quick to attack, moved the ball well and had pace on both flanks in Jamie Murphy and Solly March which troubled the visitors. Quick March, you might say.

READ MORE: I’m here as long as long as Tony Stewart wants me, says Steve Evans

Rotherham never really got to grips with them in the first half. By contrast, their own wide men, Chris Maguire and Aidy White, struggled to make an impression, to the point that White was substituted at the interval.

Maguire, like the Millers in general, was much better after half-time and should have restored parity just two minutes into the second half when the ball invitingly to him 10 yards out, but he couldn’t keep his shot under the bar.

A peach of a cross from the right midfielder didn’t bring the reward it deserved and Varis Odjidja-Ofoe was close to breaking through only to go down too easily looking for the foul and the referee refusing to be conned.

Before the break, Matt Derbyshire headed wide from Odjidja-Ofoe’s eighth-minute cross and then couldn’t get his shot away 12 minutes later when the same player cleverly played him in on goal, but home keeper David Stockdale, once of the Millers, didn’t have a save to make before the break.

In the 27th minute, Brighton led as Torner Hemed swept the ball into the roof off the net from close in after Murphy’s left-wing cross.

Former Sheffield United flyer Murphy was a menace to the Millers, shooting wide in the ninth and 22nd minutes, having a penalty shout turned down after claiming, wrongly, to have been tugged back Danny Collins and setting up Hemed to acrobatically flick the ball over close to half-time.

Evans had promised to freshen up his side after Saturday’s 1-1 draw at Charlton and he was true to his word, handing starts to Maguire, White and Derbyshire.

Clarke-Harris and Tony Andreu dropped to the bench, with skipper Lee Frecklington missing out with a calf injury sustained at The Valley.

It was end-to-end stuff in the second half, with a superb Newell block denying Hemed a second goal and Lee Camp superbly tipping over Bruno Salker’s 25-yard volley.

A Clarke-Harris shot ricocheted towards Odjidja-Ofoe but the Norwich loan ace, one of the most skilful players on the pitch, completely missed his kick.

Evans’ side pressed but, try as they might, they couldn’t find the final ball which may have led to a point.

Well done, John Norris. Tough luck, Millers.

Brighton (4-4-2): Stockdale; Bruno, Greer, Huenemeier, Bong; Murphy, Stephens, Kayal, March (Rosenior 89); Hemed (Ince 81), Baldock (Zamora 69). Subs not used: Maenpaa, Dunk, Forster-Caskey, Manu.

Rotherham United (4-5-1): Camp; Buxton, Rawson, Collins, Mattock; Maguire, Odjidja-Ofoe, Smallwood (Halford 79), Newell, White (D Ward H-T); Derbyshire (Clarke-Harris 60). Subs not used: Collin, Green, Andreu, Ledesma.

Goals: Hemed 27, Stephens 67 (Brighton); Clarke-Harris 71 (Rotherham).

Referee: James Linington (Newport).

Attendance: 21,397 (165).