ROTHERHAM United fell at home to Paolo di Canio’s Swindon at Don Valley.
About a minute into the game attention turned to the directors’ box as De Canio made his arrival.
There were some jeers and quite a few comments and that was the ‘welcome’ for the Swindon boss who responded with a cheery wave.
He is, of course, banned from the touchline for going on the pitch to celebrate a late winner at Northampton recently.
Richard Naylor’s signing provides the squad with some hard-nosed experience and he is someone with well over 400 games behind him, including a regular place at Doncaster this season until mid-November when he needed surgery on a hand injury.
The game opening brightly from both sides and Holroyd had a shot blocked inside the area.
Lovely footwork from Devera and then Tonge highlighted the fact that even at this level defenders can handle tight situations with some skill.
Rotherham might well have been in front when Taylor pounced on a loose ball and his fierce shot looked goalbound until striking Ritchie.
But it was at the other end that Ritchie was to take a decisive role in shaping this game with two goals in two minutes.
After Taylor made a fine save from Benson’s header Swindon were quickly back attacking and going in front on 19 minutes.
RITCHIE pounced on a loose ball around 18 yards out on the right to strike a low shot inside the near post with the keeper probably unsighted.
Worse was to follow in the next minute and it was another fine finish from RITCHIE who caused Rotherham so many problems in the game down at Swindon.
This time he took a short ball near the corner of the area on the right and with his favoured left foot struck a fine effort into the far top corner to give Rotherham a real mountain to climb against a side looking full of confidence.
The goals had put a totally different complexion on the game and the Millers, who have struggled to beat teams at the top, were up against it.
Swindon were looking full of beans and keeper Taylor had to react quickly to go down at Benson’s feet after a defensive error.
Evans tried to lift things but fired over from 22 yards.
Rotherham then reeled off their best move. It ended with Schofield finding Evans in space and in a promising position but the final ball went straight into the keeper’s arms.
Rotherham then got themselves back in it on 53 minutes.
Holroyd did really well on the left, taking on Flint and producing a superb cross from the byline and REVELL planted a firm header into the corner.
Holroyd crashed into an advertising board after making the cross and he lay prone and required treatment before he was able to continue.
The goal perked up the Millers and the crowd as well who had been rather disgruntled with the way things had gone in the first half.
The frosty surface looked to be getting a bit trickier as the temperature dropped and the Millers needed to turn up the attacking heat again.
Then Rotherham were so close to the equaliser.
It followed a corner and when the ball bounced to Grabban just inside the area he struck a volley which thudded against a post.
As Rotherham pressed, Revell found Williams on the right and his fierce centre was diverted over by Holroyd.
Another opportunity followed as Tonge swept the ball into the area but Revell struck his shot over the top. De Vita was booked for a foul and it led to several players from both sides getting involved in a melee.
When Di Canio stood up, phone to mouth, and appeared to be gesturing, there was an angry reaction from plenty of Millers fans nearby and stewards had to step in.
The visitors indulged in a spot of time wasting and Rotherham had certainly done much better this half only to find the equaliser eluding them.