ROTHERHAM UNITED suffered their first loss in 12 games as Shane Duffy’s first-half header settled the Roses affair in Blackburn Rovers’ favour.
The Millers were undone by Duffy’s opener and despite their best efforts either side of the interval, the home side tasted defeat for the first time since February.
After Championship survival was mathematically secured following last week’s hard fought draw at Wolverhampton Wanderers, the Millers kept faith with their starting line-up at Molineux as Leon Best led the Millers line with Danny Ward fit enough to take his place on the bench following a spell on the sidelines.
The visitors were quick out of the blocks and after forcing back-to-back corners, Rovers broke the deadlock.
Matt Grimes swung a tantalising corner which saw Shane Duffy, work a yard of space on his marker in the crowded six-yard box, to power a header into the roof of the home net giving Lee Camp no chance.
The Millers responded positively to the setback and Grant Ward jinked past Matt Kilgallon on the right flank before delivering an inviting centre which saw Matt Derbyshire nip infront of his marker to glance a header which failed to trouble the Rovers goal.
Moments later, Joe Mattock needlessly flattened Jordi Gomez by the touchline and Rovers almost made the home side pay when Grimes curled another dangerous centre which was only half cleared by the Rotherham rearguard and the ball fell kindly for Gomez, who drilled a low effort which was blocked by the ruck of bodies en-route to goal.
At the other end, Rovers failed to deal decisively with a Rotherham centre and Richie Smallwood motioned to shoot but he decided to pass to Best, who was unable to work a shooting position and he rolled the ball into the path of the on-rushing Mattock, who smashed a left-footed effort into the side netting.
Minutes later, Derbyshire hooked a shot wide following Best’s lay-off from Mattock’s long-throw before Halford’s sweeping crossfield pass released Smallwood, whose inside pass saw Grant Ward weigh up his options before striking a fierce effort from distance which forced Jason Steele into a fine, acrobatic save.
Just past the half-hour mark, the Millers were indebted to Camp for keeping them in the game as Duffy rose highest to knockdown a header into the path of Elliott Bennett who steered the ball into the path of Graham, who toe poked an effort towards goal from point blank range but Camp showed good reflexes to divert the ball to safety with a timely boot.
Just shy of half-time, Rotherham missed a gilt-edged chance to level matters when sub Frazer Richardson stung the palms of Steele with a fierce effort from distance and as Rovers failed to clear the danger, Richardson turned Ben Marshall with a sublime piece of skill before floating a delightful centre which looked inch-perfect for Best, at the far post, but the home striker bizarrely missed the target despite having the goal at his mercy.
Half-time: Rotherham United 0 Blackburn Rovers 1
Following the interval, Rovers had the first sight of goal when Darragh Lenihan tried his luck from distance but Camp got his body behind his drilled effort before Grant Ward’s daisycutter from long range at the other end was straight down the throat of Steele.
Just before the hour mark, the Millers again had Camp to thank when Marshall’s defence splitting pass put Gomez in the clear and the Spaniard bared down on goal but the ex-Derby stopper won the battle of wills as he stood up tall to block his goalbound effort.
Moments later, fine approach play from the Millers found Broadfoot in an advanced position and his slide-rule pass released Best, but the home striker was unable to get the ball across the face of goal with two teammates lurking for a tap-in.
The Millers squandered an opportunity to level matters when Halford stroked a delicate cross which found Derbyshire at the near post but the former Rover was unable to make a clean connection despite being just yards out before Frecklington headed over in the next phase of play.
At the other end, Rotherham made a hash of clearing the danger which gave Bennett a glimpse of goal and he drilled an effort which Camp diverted to safety at his near post before Duffy headed over from Bennett’s centre from the resultant corner.
Moments later, Best got the better of Kilgallon before curling a left-footed effort which Steele saved at his near post before Grimes’ tantalising cross was met perfectly by the head of Gomez, and the ball was arrowing into the top corner until Camp’s superb late intervention, which ended with the home keeper nestled in his own net.
From the resultant corner, sub Simeon Jackson inexplicably failed to hit the target despite being just yards out before sub Jerome Thomas made an immediate impression at the other end when he ghosted past Marshall but his cross cleared Best at the far post.
Superb football from the Millers saw Halford release Grant Ward in the channel, who fired a cross, which hammered against sub Danny Ward, but fortunately for the Lancastrians, the ball looped narrowly wide of the target.
With time running out for the Millers, Thomas teased and tormented Jason Lowe to deliver a hanging cross which was met by the head of Richard Wood, but his header lacked power as Steele snuffed out the danger.
Full-time: Rotherham United 0 Blackburn Rovers 1
Rotherham United 0
Blackburn Rovers 1
Teams:- Rotherham- Camp, Mattock (Richardson 40), Broadfoot, Wood, Frecklington (Thomas 71), Kelly, Halford, G Ward, Derbyshire (D Ward 73), Smallwood, Best. Unused- Kenny, Green, Clarke-Harris, Belaid.
Blackburn- Steele, Kilgallon, Hanley, Lowe, Marshall, Graham, Gomez (Evans 79), Grimes (Conway 86), Duffy, Lenihan, Bennett (Jackson 67). Unused- Raya, Henley, Brown, Mahoney.
Referee- S Martin
Attendance- 11035 (1225)