AFTER coming from behind in the second half to lead, the Millers were then overhauled and suffered their first league defeat at the New York Stadium.
A goal down at half-time, they roared back through Alex Revell and sub Daniel Nardiello to go in front only for Rochdale - who had been hanging on in the opening half-hour - to rally and snatch the points and simply reaffirm how difficult it is going to be for Rotherham to justify that tag as one of the promotion favourites.
First surprise was to find the Millers unchanged - for the first time this season. However, after Saturday’s performance perhaps it really wasn’t a surprise that Steve Evans should say ‘same again’.
Millers boss Evans was again watching from his apartment nearby and may have been out of his armchair in anticipation when Gareth Evans went on a rampaging early run, lined up a shooting opportunity but dragged his 20 yarder wide.
Rochdale were sweating again when Revell, deep in the area, held the ball up well and Odejayi spun to shoot but pulled his effort wide of the near post.
The visitors were enduring a difficult start and after good work between Revell and Hunt, Odejayi turned his effort over at the near post from the right back’s cross.
Then Revell was close with a tremendous effort.
Evans struck a long ball down the line. Revell, at speed, pulled it down on the run, and then struck a volley which wasn’t far wide of the far post.
Rotherham’s confidence was reflected in two consummate pieces of skill from Odejayi - not a description normally afforded the big man.
Firstly he cleverly used a backheel volley to find Revell and then a little touch through his own legs to put Evans in possession. He stormed forward but the 25 yarder was over the bar.
Rochdale would have been pleased to come through Rotherham’s early assault, a characteristic among several being Hunt’s use of the ball from right back.
Nothing had been seen of Rochdale as an attacking force. Then, first sniff they had they should have been in front and it was a real double escape for the Millers.
A long ball saw Shearer go outside his area, looking to head away from Grant who was clear. However, the keeper misjudged, the ball bounced over him and Grant was clear albeit at an angle. Then the covering Morgan slipped and fell, Grant came inside and shot for goal only for Sharps to block right on the line.
The ball rebounded away towards Tutte and his effort saw Morgan divert his effort away a yard from the line.
Next Shearer superbly beat away an effort from Bennett.
Just when the first half was set to be goalless, Rotherham fell behind in the only minute of stoppage time.
Odejayi, just inside his own half and near the touchline, held the ball up but then was dispossessed. Suddenly Rochdale had yellow shirts swarming forward deep in Rotherham’s half and Tutte slipped aside to the unmarked Adebola and the 37-year-old slotted a left footer past Shearer.
It was the first time in the league that Rotherham had conceded at home - after 315 goalless minutes previously.
At the break Evans was replaced by Ainsworth and Odejayi, after having a shot saved, was replaced by Nardiello.
There was a pay-off.
Firstly Ainsworth had a shot cleared off the line but within seconds Rotherham were back ahead again, Pringle delivered right-footed and Revell got in front of his man to bullet home a header.
On 65 minutes, Rotherham were in front. O’Connor’s free-kick looked too long and going out. But Sharps got behind keeper Lillis nodded the ball back into the six yard area and Nardiello headed in.
Rotherham escaped when McIntyre thundered a tremendous 35 yarder onto the bar before Shearer made an an excellent save in turning over a 20 yard free-kick from Donnelly.
However, from the ensuing corner, Tonge’s attempted clearance ran back towards corner-taker Kennedy and he went down under a challenge from Revell. Grant levelled from the spot.
Worse followed for the Millers 10 minutes from time when left back McIntyre backed up an attack, came inside onto his right foot and curled a 20 yarder into the far corner.
As Rotherham pressed for an equaliser, Nardiello just failed to turn in Ainsworth’s centre and, in stoppage time, Sharps had the chance of an equaliser but his header flashed narrowly wide.
ROTHERHAM UTD: Shearer; Hunt (Agard 82), Sharps, Morgan, Tonge; Evans (Ainsworth ht), Taylor, O’Connor, Pringle; Odejayi (Nardiello 57), Revell. Subs: Warrington, Mullins, Bradley, Rose.
ROCHDALE: Lillis; Rafferty, R Edwards, Bennett; McIntyre; P Edwards;Kennedy, Tutte, Grant, Donnelly; Adebola (Putterill 61). Subs: Barry-Murphy, Grimes, Putterill, Pearson, Curran, Crainey, Smith.
Ref: Steve Martin (Cambs).
Goals: Revell (59), Nardiello (65) for Rotherham; Adebola (45+1), Grant (73 pen), McIntyre (80) for Rochdale.