Match report: Rotherham United 2 Colchester United 2

Ben Pringle fires in a volley on goal as the Millers push forward
Ben Pringle fires in a volley on goal as the Millers push forward
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No matter the merits of the performance, the overriding emotion when victory is snatched away at the last possible second is a real sickening feeling in the stomach.

I bet this one put a lot of Millers fans off their Saturday tea when they’d been a gnat’s away from absolutely anything tasting nice!

The joy, elation and celebration of a victory was snatched away with seconds remaining, and could be measured in a few inches as well - about the distance the ball went over the goalline for Colchester’s last-gasp equaliser.

It shouldn’t have come to that, of course, which was the reason why fans so desiring a win were frustrated. They were all down - and, judging by his demeanour, few more so than the manager.

Of course, the Millers should have been out of sight. And by half-time.

Let’s be honest here, Colchester looked perfect opposition for the Millers to get their home record back on track because they were out of their depth as they got outplayed in the first half. They were dodgy at the back and pretty weak going forward, and on that evidence you’d have almost hand-picked them if you wanted to get back to winning ways.

But this is becoming a pretty familiar sob story for the Millers.

They have played some wonderful stuff at times; they have been bang on top and, very often, dominated the opposition. But when that final whistle goes, they haven’t ended up with the win often enough.

You can blame, all you like, the failure to put the ball in the net and finish off all that attacking play, but they are a side that hasn’t kept enough clean sheets either.

I wouldn’t go as far as to say that the next time they win it will be with a clean sheet, but no goals against would be a start.

And there’s another point as well. In ten out of the 15 league games so far, they have gone behind. In nine of them they have conceded the first goal.

It means they are giving themselves quite a handicap up in their new division. However, in the last two home games, they have been unable to defend a lead and have conceded late equalisers.

Room for improvement? There most certainly is! Millers followers, looking ahead to next week’s big FA Cup with Bradford City, will know they’ll have to be better and hope that their favourites rise to that derby challenge as they have others this season.

Colchester’s opener on six minutes was simplicity itself. Marcus Bean, once on loan with the Millers, got in ahead of Pablo Mills for a stooping header from a corner. It bounced in off the far post which was unguarded.

The reply inside two minutes was important and a great relief for Matt Tubbs, his first goal for the club on what was his fourth start.

His control of a Joe Skarz cross with one foot and finish with the other, was calm and composed. He might have had another not long afterwards and he continued to move into the areas that might produce opportunities.

He and Alex Revell linked up well at times in the sort of big man/little man partnership that can benefit both. It was important too that Kieran Agard looked to get into danger areas as well.

He is now Rotherham’s leading scorer with six after pouncing from close range after Lee Frecklington’s determined work following a long throw.

Just 21 minutes had gone and Rotherham had turned it round. You could only see more goals as well. They were so much on top how could there not be more with the visitors struggling so badly?

Mark Bradley almost reprised his Brentford winner but saw his header shovelled round the post. From the corner, he fired over from Agard’s knock-back.

There was almost a classic goal when Revell, having pulled away to the far post, nodded back O’Connor’s cross and it looked to be dropping perfectly for Agard only for Tubbs to try an acrobatic overhead kick which went over the bar, leaving Agard pondering one that got away.

Colchester got a half-time rollicking - yes, we could hear it! - but before they could effect any improvement, Tubbs almost sneaked in a near-post effort.

Colchester did improve and left-back Luke Garbutt rolled a great chance wide after bursting through.

Rotherham didn’t have the dominance of the first half but they did still carry a threat - Tubbs denied by the keeper’s legs - although the game was now going both ways rather than just one.

Revell strove to get on the scoresheet and had a header saved. Everyone in the ground knew that a third goal would kill off Colchester’s renewed energy.

A full-length save by Collin from Garbutt with five minutes left was the U’s’ first on-target effort of the half but the Millers couldn’t see it out.

The game was right at the end of the allocated four minutes of stoppage time when yet another loan player from a Premier League club robbed Rotherham of points - this time Elliot Lee, a goalscoring youngster from West Ham and son of ex-Newcastle player Rob Lee.

He reacted sharpest after a spot of head-tennis. They often say it’s a game of inches, and when the ball came down off the bar, it was here.