Rotherham United this afternoon slipped to a disappointing home reversal at the hands of Barnet.
The Millers slipped out of the top three as the Londoners continued their improved run of form of late thanks to goals either side of the interval from Jake Hyde and sub Andy Yiadom.
Following their FA Cup defeat at the hands of Aldershot, Steve Evans reshuffled his pack with Huddersfield loanee Liam Ridehalgh returning to the starting line-up at the expense of Jack O’Connell, who has returned to his parent club, Blackburn Rovers while Ian Sharps was handed the skipper’s armband as Kari Arnason missed out following his sending-off in Hampshire.
Kieran Agard and Kayode Odejayi were also recalled to the team in favour of Michael O’Connor and Alex Revell as Evans favoured a more attacking line-up while Liverpool starlet Adam Morgan was handed his first start for the Millers as club top-scorer Daniel Nardiello dropped to the bench.
For the Londoners, former Ajax and Juventus legend Edgar Davids returned in a playing capacity after recovering from a shoulder injury in a treat for Millers followers.
The home side were quick out of the blocks and following good work by Odejayi, Morgan cut inside on his left foot before striking an effort which was blocked by Elliott Johnson.
At the other end, Davids showed his class as he breezed past Ben Pringle before floating an inviting centre which saw Ridehalgh divert the ball to safety with Ibra Sekajja waiting to pounce.
Minutes later, Jason Taylor shrugged off the attentions of his marker to drill a shot which was deflected behind by Mark Byrne before Mark Bradley almost capitalised on a handling error by Graham Stack but the ex-Arsenal ‘keeper recovered to parry the ball to safety.
Curtis Weston failed to trouble Andy Warrington with an effort from distance before Barnet stunned the home faithful by making the breakthrough on 21 minutes.
Following an innocuous ball into the channel by Byrne, there looked little danger but Warrington raced from his line in a moment of madness and Jake Hyde, who beat the offside chip, calmly chipped the ball over the advancing ‘keeper into the unguarded net.
The visitors were buoyed by the opener and Sekajja fizzed an effort which had Warrington at full stretch before Rotherham came within a whisker of the equaliser when Pringle swung an inswinging corner which Odejayi headed down at the near post but two well-stationed defenders stopped the ball being bundled in before Stack cleared the danger.
The visitors then turned defence into the attack in the blink of an eye and were unfortunate not to double their lead when firstly, Hyde’s clipped cross saw Sekajja hoick the ball goalwards but Warrington tipped the ball over smartly.
From the resultant corner, Byrne curled an inviting centre which was met by the head of Andy Iro, whose powerful downward header beat the outstretched hand of Warrington but to the Millers relief, Taylor was on-hand to punt the ball clear.
The Millers were riding their luck and a long punt forward saw Hyde put Taylor on the backfoot as he advanced menacingly into the box before finding the run of Ricky Holmes, whose low effort was blocked by the legs of Warrington.
With half-time approaching, Pringle floated an inviting corner which saw Morgan crash a header against the bar from point-blank range but any goal would have been chalked off after Stack was adjudged to have been blocked off.
Deep in injury-time, after Barnet failed to clear, Sharps and Morgan gave Johnny Mullins the opportunity to curl an effort which was arrowing towards the bottom corner until David Stephens hacked the ball clear.
The home side were sniffing blood and another precise delivery from Pringle saw Sharps climb highest but a superb reflex save from Stack kept the Millers at bay before Morgan was snuffed out as he looked the bundle the ball over the line.
With the Londoners hanging on at the end of the first stanza, Sharps was again denied as he headed goalwards before the half-time whistle came to the visitors’ rescue.
Half-time:- Rotherham United 0 Barnet 1
Following the restart, Morgan worked a yard of space on the halfline before spotting Stack off his line but his opportunistic effort was off target.
Moments later, Barnet broke quickly and Holmes cut inside from the right flank before unleashing a rasping effort which swung viciously in the air but Warrington punched the ball over the bar.
Sub Daniel Kearns, signed on loan from Peterborough in the week, almost made an instant impact when he deceived Davids before hanging a cross to the far stick which saw Odejayi direct a header wide of the target.
Just past the hour mark, Agard shrugged off two challengers before dragging his long range effort wide before Lee Frecklington miscued his half-volley from an inviting position moments later.
Following a period of pressure, Nardiello saw Kearns in space on the edge of the box but he blazed his effort over when he really should have done better before Ridehalgh’s bobbling cross caused visitors’ hearts to flutter in the next phase of play.
At the other end, Barnet came within a whisker of sealing the game when Holmes’ curling free-kick forced Warrington into a superb tip-over.
However, the visitors were not to be denied and Holmes’ skipped past Kearns with a minimum of fuss before skipping down the goalline and with time and space, his perfect pullback gave sub Yiadom the opportunity to slide the ball home from six yards giving Warrington no chance.
The Millers’ miserable afternoon was summed up when Nardiello headed straight at Stack, who fumbled initially before the ex-Exeter City striker blazed over with the goal at his mercy.
In stoppage time, Holmes waltzed past a static home defence before striking an effort which cannoned against the crossbar before rolling to safety.
Full-time:- Rotherham United 0 Barnet 2
Rotherham- Warrington, Bradley, Mullins, Sharps, Ridehalgh, Pringle (Kearns 51), Taylor, Frecklington, Agard, Odejayi (Revell 73), Morgan (Nardiello 56). Unused:- Thompson, Ainsworth, O’Connor, Cameron.
Barnet:- Stack, Fuller, Byrne, Holmes, Hyde (Atieno 72), Weston, Johnson, Stephens, Iro (Kamdjo 35), Davids (Yiadom 68) Sekajja. Unused:- Brown, Cowler, Oster, Holwijn.