ALEX Revell was the Rotherham United hero as his brace helped Rotherham United cement their League One play-off position with a 2-1 victory over relegation-haunted Tranmere Rovers.
At a rain-soaked Prenton Park, Rotherham were rewarded for their first-half dominance when Revell broke the deadlock following good work by Kieran Agard.
The Millers doubled their advantage when the ex-Orient targetman struck again for his seventh goal of the season after he superbly stroked home after Wes Thomas was denied.
Sub Andy Robinson gave the home side a glimmer of hope in the dying minutes before the visitors withstood a late home rally to claim victory.
Following their last-gasp draw with Crawley Town at the weekend, the Millers made four changes to their starting line-up with Jamaican international Claude Davis making a return to the heart of the Rotherham defence at the expense of Bournemouth loanee Miles Addison.
Skipper Lee Frecklington returned to the visitors’ engine room as Middlesbrough’s Richard Smallwood dropped to the bench while Mark Bradley was recalled to the right-back spot with Joe Skarz missing out.
Thomas was handed his first Rotherham start upfront partnering Revell, who shrugged off a calf strain to play, while Tom Hitchcock had to settle for a place amongst the substitutes.
In a quiet opening, the Millers had the first sight of goal when Ben Pringle’s outswinging corner was met by the head of Bradley, who headed goalwards but Thomas was unable to bundle the ball home from point-blank range as Rovers snuffed out the danger.
Minutes later, Rotherham came within a whisker of breaking the deadlock when Adam Collin’s long punt upfield bisected the home rearguard paving the way for Pringle to burst down the left flank.
The Millers schemer fired a tantalising cross across the face of goal which saw Thomas poke the ball past Owain Fon Williams from point-blank range into the bottom corner, but his joy soon turned to despair as the assistant referee had blown for offside.
Rotherham were looking the most likely and Revell’s neat flick gave Thomas another glimpse of goal but his bobbling effort from distance was gathered at the second attempt by Fon Williams.
Just shy of the half-hour mark, James Tavernier cut inside before unleashing a fierce effort from distance which stung the palms of Fon Williams, who took evasive action to keep the ball out before Revell blazed over the bar from the edge of the box moments later.
Minutes later, a fine flowing move culminated in Bradley twisting and turning to work a shooting position on the edge of the box before curling an effort which was straight down the throat of Fon Williams.
The home side were struggling to find their rhythm and Pringle fizzed a cross which saw Davis climb highest but he couldn’t control his header as it failed to trouble the target before Frecklington fired a skimming drive from long range which had Fon Williams scrambling across goal to tip the ball around the post.
However, the Millers were rewarded for their superiority with the breakthrough six minutes before the break.
Following a period of pressure, Agard injected pace into the move by bursting into the box and with the home side backtracking, his perfectly-weighted pass saw Revell, ghost away from his marker, to calmly slide the ball past the outstretched hand of Fon Williams to find the bottom corner of the net.
The visitors were buoyed by the opener and after Rovers failed to deal with a long throw from Kari Arnason, Frecklington pounced on the loose ball to jink past Steve Jennings before curling a delightful effort from just outside the box which narrowly cleared the crossbar.
With half-time approaching, Tranmere had their first foray of note when an innocuous ball forward saw Ryan Lowe break clear but from an acute angle, his poked effort was half-stopped by Collin before Tavernier blasted the ball clear.
There was a moment of controversy in stoppage time when Agard played a clever one-two with Pringle on the edge of the box and the Rotherham hitman looked to ride the tackle of Matthew Pennington, before being felled as he bared down on goal but the referee waived away visiting appeals for a spot-kick, believing the home defender had got a slight touch to the ball.
Half-time:- Tranmere Rovers 0 Rotherham United 1
The Millers started the second half as they finished the first as they missed a gilt-edged chance to double their advantage soon after the break.
Pringle got to the byline to float a delightful cross which saw Revell climb highest to knock the ball into the path of Thomas, who looked a certain scorer but bizarrely he screwed his shot wide from just yards out when it looked easier to score.
Minutes later, Rotherham penned the home side deep into their own half which paved the way for Agard to brush past Jennings with a minimum of fuss before striking a low effort which was parried away from Fon Williams before Bradley drilled a shot harmlessly wide in the next phase of play.
At the other end, the Millers were given a scare when Evan Horwood got the better of Agard to plant a tantalising cross which Jake Cassidy was inches away from meeting with the goal at his mercy.
The moment proved more crucial moments later when Rotherham doubled their advantage with 25 minutes remaining thanks to the predatory instincts of Revell.
A long punt forward from the back saw Thomas get on the wrong side of Stephen Arthurworrey to advance menacingly on goal but Fon Williams stood up tall to block his goalbound effort but Revell kept his composure to rifle home the rebound into the roof of the net to send the visiting faithful into ecstasy.
The Millers were sniffing blood and a marauding run from Frecklington had the Rovers defence at sixes and sevens before Bradley’s pass paved the way for Revell, to drag a shot narrowly wide of the target.
Tavernier then struck a fierce effort which cleared the crossbar before Tranmere were given hope in the dying stages when they halved the deficit.
Following a period of pressure, Ash Taylor rose highest from an inviting corner and with Collin a bystander, the ball struck the crossbar but sub Robinson was on-hand to head home from point-blank range.
Sub Haris Vuckic missed an opportunity to seal the points for the Millers’ before James Wallace headed wide in stoppage time as Rotherham held on to claim a much-needed victory in their play-off push.
Full-time:- Tranmere Rovers 1 Rotherham United 2
Teams:- Tranmere- Fon Williams, Horwood, Taylor, Wallace, Lowe, Cassidy, Kirby (Robinson 55) Jennings (Koumas 74), Kennedy (Stockton 77), Pennington, Arthurworrey. Unused:- Holmes, Goodison, Power, Mooney.
Rotherham- Collin, Arnason, Davis, Frecklington (Vuckic 87), Revell, Bradley, Pringle, Agard, Thomas (O’Connor 83), Tavernier, Milsom (Smallwood 73). Unused:- Thompson, Skarz, Turgott, Hitchcock.
Referee:- Darren Drysdale