When you’re only eight days into your new job and your team are next to bottom of the Championship, there are a couple of things you could well do without.
Taking on the team next to top is one of them and playing them with nearly half of your first-choice side missing is no doubt another.
That was the situation facing Neil Redfearn as Rotherham United took on high-flying Reading in his first match in charge at AESSEAL New York Stadium and what a performance the Millers turned in.
They recovered from a goal down and in a rousing second-half display rattled the visitors to such an extent that they should have taken all three points.
Injury had robbed them of arguably their player of the season so far, Joe Newell, along with fellow casualties captain Lee Frecklington, Joe Mattock and Danny Ward.
Last year’s player of the season, Richie Smallwood, meanwhile, also sat out the match as he served a one-match ban for picking up five bookings.
No matter. Redfearn is already making a difference.
He set them up 4-3-1-2, made them compact and difficult to beat and encouraged his side to play their way down the field.
They responded in such a manner that they were given a standing ovation at the end.
Nick Blackman’s 10th goal in 10 games, a wonderful chest down and rifled shot from 20 yards, put the Royals ahead in a first half when Rotherham also had their chances, the highlight of which was Matt Derbyshire’s swivel and 30-yard shot which brought a stunning save from Ali Al-Habsi.
But centre-half Danny Collins produced a striker’s finish two minutes after the break from a Tony Andreu corner, rifling home the equaliser.
Farrend Rawson might have scored in a goalmouth scramble soon after and Jonson Clarke-Harris definitelly should have when he failed to beat Al-Habsi after Andreu’s feed had put him clean through.
Sub Matej Vydra broght the best out of goalkeeper Lee Camp late on, but the Millers were equal to the challenge of a well-organised side who arrived with five wins and a draw from their last six games.
Redfearn made four changes to the side which had gone down fighting 2-1 at Brentford on Saturday, handing a debut to loan left-back from Norwich City Harry Toffolo, bringing Thorpe into midfield for his first start since opening day and also including Andreu and Grant Ward.
Chris Maguire and Aidy White dropped to the bench, with Mattock and Smallwood the other players from Griffin Park to miss out.
Thorpe was superb in possession and out, looking far more assured as a defensive mdfielder than he did earlier in the season at centre-half, while Ward turned in his best performance in a Millers shirt.
Twenty-year-old Toffolo enjoyed a terrific debut, good going forward and solid in defence, putting in a telling passes, tackles and blocks throughout the evening.
Redfearn is a composed figure with a positive attitude, a real football man who understands that a daunting run of three fixtures in six days and the attendant injury problems simply have to be taken in his stride
His team just got on with it, looking dangerous in attack and encouragingly defiant and hard to break down at the back.
He is watching intently, learning fast and Friday’s home derby with Sheffield Wednesday will give him further chance to assess the quality and heart of his squad.
His influence and organisation are showing and will become even more apparent in the weeks ahead.
Rotherham United (4-3-1-2): Camp; Buxton, Rawson, Collins, Toffolo; G Ward, Thorpe, Green; Andreu (Maguire 85); Clarke-Harris, Derbyshire (Bowery 80). Subs not used: Collin, Broadfoot, Ledesma, White, Richardson.
Reading (4-4-2): Al-Habsi; Gunter, Hector, McShane, Taylor; McCleary (Vydra 62), Williams, Norwood, Piazon (Hurtado 62); Blackman, Sa. Subs not used: Moore, Obita, Cooper, Fernandez, Liburd.
Goals: Collins 47 (Rotherham); Blackman 26 (Reading).
Referee: Jeremy Simpson (Lancashire).
Attendance: 9,071 (472).