ROTHERHAM UNITED slipped to a narrow defeat at the hands of inform Blackburn Rovers as Luke Hyam’s unfortunate first-half own goal settled the Roses clash.
In a lacklustre first-half, Neil Redfearn’s men settled the quicker but found themselves behind at the interval as Hyam inavertedly headed past his own ‘keeper Lee Camp.
Jonson Clarke-Harris came close to levelling matters near the end but Rovers held on as the Millers slipped to back-to-back defeats to remain in the Championship dropzone.
Following their defeat at the hands of Wolves last time out, the Millers made two changes to their starting line-up for the visit to Ewood Park.
Joe Mattock shrugged off a hamstring injury to take his place in the left-back slot as Norwich loanee Harry Toffolo had to settle for a substitutes berth.
Ipswich midfielder Hyam made his first start for the Millers as he joined Richie Smallwood and skipper Lee Frecklington in the visitors engine room.
There were a couple of familiar faces in the home line-up as former loanee Tom Lawrence was named alongside Jordan Rhodes in the home attack while one-time Miller Lee Williamson was among the home substitutes.
The Millers had the first sight of goal when Lewis Buxton’s pass gave Hyam a glimpse of goal but his long-range effort was blocked by Corry Evans before Jason Steele’s attempt to play out from the back almost backfired as Joe Newell’s header gave Clarke-Harris an opportunity to advance into the box but Adam Henley got in a timely tackle to prevent him shooting goalwards.
The home side breathed a huge sigh of relief when further defensive hesitation saw Steele in no-man’s land and Hyam attempted a lob into the unguarded net but the
home ‘keeper managed a fingertip save as Grant Hanley bundled the ball away from the line before Frecklington looked to force the ball home from close range but a retreating defender snuffed out the danger.
In Rovers’ first foray of note, Markus Olsson stung the palms of Camp with a long-range effort before Ben Marshall got the better of Mattock in their next attack to flash a near-post effort which Camp had to parry to safety.
The home winger was posing a threat to the Millers and he was in the thick of the action moments later as he waltzed past Mattock once again before unleashing a rasping effort which looked to be arrowing into the far corner of the goal before Danny Collins bravely headed the ball clear.
However, the Millers respite was only temporary as Rovers netted the only goal of the game in their next attack.
Craig Conway showed fleet of foot to work a crossing position before delivering a tantalising centre and the backtracking Hyam, in attempting to clear, could only glance the ball towards his own goal and Camp was helpless as the ball flew into the heart of the visitors goal.
The Millers responded bravely to the setback and Newell made something out of nothing to force his way into the home box before drilling a low effort which Steele could only parry but fortunately for the home side, Hanley was on-hand to hack the ball clear with no Miller on the follow-up.
With half-time approaching, Grant Ward tried his luck from distance but his effort failed to trouble the home goal.
Half-time:- Blackburn Rovers 1 Rotherham United 0
The Millers were quick out of the blocks in the second half and Frecklington’s slide rule pass saw Grant Ward show Olsson a quick pair of heels to burst into the box and the Tottenham loanee pulled an inviting ball back into the path of Hyam, who executed a deft flick but the ball was blocked en-route to goal.
Moments later, Hyam’s threaded ball was diverted into the path of Frecklington, who looked poised to strike on goal but Evans produced a superb sliding challenge to snuff out the danger.
At the other end, Evans traded passes with Lawrence to drill an effort harmlessly across the face of the goal before referee Tony Harrington waved away home appeals for a spot-kick when Marshall’s cross struck Kirk Broadfoot in the box.
The Millers were looking the most likely without looking too threatening and Matt Derbyshire was introduced to the fray to add punch to the visitors forward line with the striker being given a warm ovation on his return to his former club.
Minutes later, the Millers had Camp to thank for keeping them in the game as Conway swung a delightful corner which saw Duffy rise highest to plant a powerful header which brought the best out of the ex-Bournemouth stopper, who produced a superb reflex save.
Broadfoot became the first to see yellow for bundling over Rhodes before Camp was called into action again as he showed quick footwork to snatch sub Chris Brown’s looping header from underneath his own crossbar.
With time running out for the visitors, the Millers came within a whisker of the equaliser when Newell’s corner into the danger area saw Clarke-Harris emerge from a ruck of bodies to head the ball goalwards but the ball fizzed past the upright with the aid of a home deflection.
Despite a late rally from the visitors, the Millers were unable to threaten the home goal as the home side comfortably extended their unbeaten run to seven games.
Full-time:- Blackburn Rovers 1 Rotherham United 0
Teams:- Blackburn- Steele, Henley, Hanley, Marshall (Taylor 81), Rhodes (Guthrie 88), Olsson, Lawrence (Brown 66), Akpan, Duffy, Evans, Conway. Unused- Eastwood, Spurr, Kilgannon, Williamson.
Rotherham- Camp, Buxton, Mattock, Collins, Broadfoot, Frecklington, G Ward, Clarke-Harris, Newell (Barker 88), Hyam (Derbyshire 68), Smallwood. Unused- Collin, Green, Thorpe, Toffolo, Yates.
Attendance:- 13054 (653)