Rotherham United: The night the Millers went missing

Mike Dean books Millers skipper Craig Morgan for conceding the last minute penalty at Bramall Lane
Mike Dean books Millers skipper Craig Morgan for conceding the last minute penalty at Bramall Lane
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So, where exactly was the Rotherham United side that has made such an impact on League One this season?

What happened to the team that has looked so formidable so often; has pumped pride back into their support and had praise rightly showered on it?

Sheffield United followers, most of them turning up a touch apprehensive and even more so when they saw their team missing EIGHT players who will play at Wembley, must have wondered what all the fuss was about over their neighbours.

Was this the team who were top scorers in the League with 77 goals; were 16 games unbeaten; had lost only one away game in 13 since October; had won six of the last eight away?

Was this the team apparently playing so well; had swamped opponents with their attacking purpose; overpowerered them with their drive and intensity?

Blades fans expected more. Much more. In that case, just think how the expectant 5,000 Millers fans would have felt?

Steve Evans promised his side would be in the Blades faces. They barely got within arm’s length.

One of their strengths has been the way they have started games. They’ve put opponents bang on the back foot, battling to survive. On Tuesday, it took them about 25 minutes to get going.

A decisive factor in that may well have been the way the Blades set up which enabled them to control the flow of the game and to affect Rotherham’s hopes of getting off to a flier.

Playing three centre backs worked a treat defensively, a decisive extra man when Rotherham put the ball into the box. And they were also able to control things from in their own half. A spare man in midfield was another matter the Millers couldn’t initially fathom.

They didn’t really hurt the Millers as an attacking entity but this was supposed to be Rotherham’s attacking threat against the Blades’ defensive solidity which had seen 11 clean sheets in the 15 games prior to this one.

The Millers have played some great football this season. Where was it on Tuesday? What will hurt their fans was that on this night of all nights that reputation was damaged. Apart from the attacking runs of right back James Tavernier, they looked one dimensional, the high ball pumped towards Alex Revell as their only line of attack. With Harry Maguire dominating it was doomed to fail time after time.

Millers fans feared the affect the absence of injured Lee Frecklington might have. Few could have imagined how the loss of one player could so hurt them but it changed the whole dynamic of the Millers midfield.

His attacking drive, his ability to link up all three departments, his influence, was sorely missed.

Rest assured, the Millers are a lot better than this. But they were unrecognisable from the side has brought so much delight this season.