New boss Kenny Jackett has hailed the form of striker Danny Ward whose scoring exploits are giving Rotherham United hope they can climb off the foot of the Championship table.
Ward, aged 24, struck twice at Ipswich Town as a 2-2 draw ended a run of seven straight Millers defeats to take his tally for the season to eight in 15 league games.
“Eight is a fantastic return,” Jackett said. “He is a threat. We need to be utilising his pace, keeping him fit and making sure he keeps scoring goals for us. He’s a big strength.”
Rotherham are eight points away from safety but have looked a far tougher side since Jackett took over two games ago and were set for all three points at Portman Road until David McGoldrick hit an undeserved Town equaliser in the final seconds of time added on.
“There are a lot of positives,” Jackett added. “The players were keen and competitive, and they’re a very hard-working group. That’s a lot to work with.
“Three of the four goals today were set-pieces, and we have to be ready for that. It’s something that has to be addressed, by the players we have at the moment. We have to win the set-piece game, which is a game within a game.”
Skipper Lee Frecklington missed out with an ankle injury, but Jackett is hoping he will be fit for next Saturday’s home clash with Preston North End, the final match before the next international break. Fellow midfielder Greg Halford departed early with a calf problem.
Will Vaulks replaced Frecklington and he and his teammates were gutted to miss out on a first victory since August 20 as McGoldrick produced a stunning long-range finish.
“It’s a tough one to take,” the 23-year-old said. “We battled so well and I thought we’d seen it out. We were winning headers, defending really well and getting blocks in.
“We worked really hard and it’s just the rub of the green at the moment. At least we’ve stopped the rot.
“We knew what they were about, which is fairly long balls. We had to defend and be big and strong, and we did that. They kept trying to put crosses in. We stopped them.
“We won the first ball and the second ball, and then the one chance ... we win the ball at the edge of the box and it falls to him. It’s a great finish.
“Sometimes, you just have to say it’s a great finish. We were unlucky not to get a block on it. We just have to dust ourselves down and keep going, like we have since the new manager’s come in, and hopefully get a win against Preston.
“This is a good base to build on. Right now it doesn’t feel like that, it just feels like we should have won the game. But we needed to stop being beaten, and we’ve done that. This is a tough place to come to, especially after conceding after a couple of minutes.
“It could have gone the other way. But we showed a bit of character and I think the dressing room will benefit from that.”