DANNY Ward’s double was in vain as Rotherham United returned over the Pennines empty-handed after Blackburn Rovers ran out 4-2 victors at Ewood Park.
Ward’s early goal put the Millers infront but any visitors joy was short lived as Craig Conway and Marvin Emnes turned the game on its head to give Owen Coyle’s side the advantage at the interval.
Just seconds into the second half, Ben Marshall added a third for the home side and although Ward gave the Millers hope near the end, Sam Gallagher sealed the deal for the Lancastrians, who recorded their first league win of the season.
Following their encouraging draw with Nottingham Forest last time out, Millers’ chief Alan Stubbs made just one enforced change to his starting line-up as Republic of Ireland international Stephen Kelly returned to the right-back berth as Darnell Fisher was suspended because of his sending-off in midweek.
The home side had the first sight of goal when Marvin Emnes showed fleet of foot to evade the attentions of Jon Taylor and Kelly near the by line before dragging a low effort narrowly wide of the target before Sam Gallagher got the better of Dael Fry following a ball over the top but the Middlesbrough loanee stuck out a timely leg to prevent the home striker shooting goalwards.
However, the Millers made the timely breakthrough on 12 minutes with their first real foray of note.
Good work deep in his own half by Tom Adeyami paved the way for Izzy Brown to race away from the heart of midfield before the Chelsea midfielder played a perfectly-weighted pass which put Ward in the clear and the Millers striker kept his nerve to slide the ball under the body of the advancing Jason Steele as it found the heart of the Rovers goal.
The Millers were buoyed by the breakthrough and Brown waltzed his way through a static Rovers defence before firing goalwards but Tommie Hoban put his body on the line to block his shot en-route to goal.
At the other end, Kevin Wilson was on his toes to snuff out Gallagher’s cross before Gordon Greer was denied by a ruck of Millers bodies as he looked to stab goalwards from the resultant corner.
However, the Millers didn’t heed the warning as Rovers equalised on 22 minutes when Rotherham failed to clear their lines following a throw-in and a threaded pass was collected by Craig Conway, who got the ball from under his feet, before firing a superb effort from over 20 yards which gave Lee Camp no chance as it arrowed into the top corner of the net.
Moments later, Gallagher got the better of Kelly to fire a rising effort which Camp was forced to parry over the bar before Ward and Brown combined superbly to pave the way for the former to bare down on goal but, this time, Steele stood up tall to block his goalbound effort.
The Millers initially responded positively to the setback and Greg Halford’s exocet-throw was bizarrely headed onto his own bar by a retreating defender before Scott Allan floated a deep corner to the far post which saw Halford ghost in at the far post but his powerful header was cleared off the line by a well-stationed home defender.
Just before the half-hour mark, Rovers took the game by the scruff of the neck when Kelly failed to cut out the danger and Conway raced clear down the left flank, before calmly weighing up his options, to play a slide-rule pass into the path of the onrushing Emnes, who picked his spot from the edge of the box, to caress the ball into the bottom corner of the Millers net.
Things almost took another turn for the worst for the Millers in Rovers’ next attack when Conway skipped to the touchline to deliver a tantalising centre which saw Joe Mattock, in attempting to clear, divert the ball towards his own goal but Camp showed great reflexes to keep the ball out.
With half time approaching, Corry Evans became the first to see yellow for bundling over Halford in full flow before Adeyemi planted a delicate centre which saw Brown rise highest but he blazed his header harmlessly over the home bar.
Half-time- Blackburn Rovers 2 Rotherham United 1
Immediately from the kick-off, Millers’ hopes were dealt a blow as Rovers added a third when a long ball forward saw Emnes play the ball into the path of Ben Marshall, who cut inside Mattock with menace, before curling a delightful effort which beat the outstretched hand of Camp to nestle in the bottom corner of the net.
The Millers were visibly rattled by the setback and Gallagher turned Fry superbly on the edge of the box before firing a low effort which whistled narrowly wide of the upright.
The introduction of Lee Frecklington and Jerry Yates from the bench seemed to steady the Millers ship before Mattock became the latest to see yellow for a lunge on Marshall.
Minutes later, Brown’s slalom run left Emnes and Danny Guthrie in his wake as Kelly’s drilled cross was cut out by a retreating Rovers defender before Gallagher twice stung the palms of Camp, firstly after good work by Emnes and latterly following Marshall’s incisive run.
Just past the hour mark, fine interplay involving Brown and Taylor presented Kelly with a crossing opportunity but his drilled centre evaded visiting runners before Brown’s frustration boiled over when he was cautioned for dissent.
Adeyemi soon joined him in the book for a needless foul on Evans on halfway before Gallagher almost sealed the deal with a towering header following Conway’s tantalising centre but his bullet header smashed against the Millers’ crossbar.
With time running out for the Millers’, Frecklington’s tame volley was straight down the throat of Steele before Alan Stubbs’ men gave themselves a glimmer of hope with seven minutes remaining when Frecklington’s pass released Kelly down the right flank, who managed to deliver a cross, just before the ball ran out of play, and Ward nipped infront of his marker to power a point-blank header past Steele.
Home nerves were on the edge as Ward got clear of the Blackburn defence to drill a low effort which was smartly gathered by Steele before Camp had to be at his best to deny Emnes, a home fourth, following a fantastic half-volley.
In stoppage time, Kelly hauled down Conway to earn a yellow card before Blackburn secured the points in stoppage time when Emnes got the better of Wilson to advance into the box and slide a ball into the path of Gallagher, who had the simple task of tapping into the net from close range.
Full-time- Blackburn Rovers 4 Rotherham United 2
Blackburn Rovers 4
Rotherham United 2
Teams:- Blackburn- Steele, Greer (Wharton 81), Hoban, Williams, Lowe, Marshall, Emnes, Gallagher, Guthrie, Evans (Lenihan 81), Conway. Unused- Raya, Feeney, Bryne, Samuelson, Akpan.
Rotherham- Camp, Kelly, Mattock, Ward, Taylor, Halford (Frecklington 50), Wilson, Fry, Allan (Yates 50), Adeyemi (Vaulks 75), Brown. Unused- Price, Forde, Ball, Newell.
Referee- D Bond
Attendance- 10699 (734).