Full-time: Seven up for Millers and six points clear ... Bristol City 1 Rotherham United 1

Beating the big boys? No problem. Earning Yorkshire bragging rights in a sold-out derby against Leeds United when you're down to 10 men? Ditto.

Tuesday, 5th April 2016, 10:53 pm
Updated Wednesday, 6th April 2016, 7:51 am
Matt Derbyshire scores. Pictures: Paul Wickson

A long trip to survival rivals Bristol City on an unremarkable Tuesday night presented a very different Championship test to the ones Rotherham United have been passing with flying colours in recent weeks.

But they came through it thanks to bags of determination and one moment of supreme quality to extend their unbeaten run to seven matches and keep their survival march firmly on course.

It might not have been a win to match those against promotion contenders Sheffield Wednesday, Middlesbrough and Ipswich Town, but a point away from home against a team close to them in the table at this stage of the season will do very nicely indeed.

With MK Dons losing at home, the Millers are now six points clear of the drop zone, and have the chance to extend that gap when they travel to Milton Keynes on Saturday.

This result was built on good organisation, workrate, desire and a refusal to yield when the Robins upped the tempo in the second half. Manager Neil Warnock has Rotherham scrapping for everything and they were well worth their point.

“Their manager, Lee Johnson, did my team talk for me,” Warnock said. “He said the day before that trying to intimidate us would be acceptable. That’s almost incitement. What he said was disgraceful.

“The crowd got on to the referee. Thankfully, he was strong enough not to be influenced and he had an excellent game.

“The lads gave me everything again. They’re a really good group.”

After a scrappy opening, Rotherham went ahead with a sublime finish from Matt Derbyshire.

How pleased the Millers were that their appeal against his red card last Saturday in the triumph over Leeds had been won as the left midfielder latched on to Richard Wood’s penetrating ball over the top to beat home goalkeeper Richard O’Donnell with an immaculate lob after 11 minutes.

Neil Warnock

The one-eyed Ashton Gate crowd were giving ref Gavin Ward hell whenever a decision went against them, but the Surrey offical held firm and continued to call most things right.

Solid as he was, he wasn’t as resolute as the Millers’ committed backline, however, as they restricted the Robins to only one clear first-half opening, Lee Camp producing a stunning 28th-minute reflex save to claw away Aden Flint’s close-range header.

Greg Halford lay on the turf for a long time after a goalmouth melee and a stretcher was brought on to the pitch. There were howls of protest as he eventually stood up, hobbled off and rejoined the action moments later.

Rotherham’s defence was breached only once, nine minutes into the second half, when Peter Odemwingie crashed home an equaliser, and the visitors came under sustained pressure for the first time in the match.

But Warnock’s men competed ferociously, harrying, closing down and blocking with everything they had, and forced their way back into the game.

Richard Smallwood fired over the bar from the edge of the area in the 65th minute to remind the Robins that Rotherham still carried a threat and Joe Mattock saw his free-kick saved nine minute later.

The Millers were indebted to Camp in the 79th minute when he somehow kept out Odemwingie’s point-blank header with a stop that was even better than the one he’d made earlier from Flint.

Yet they came fighting back five minutes later as Grant Ward crossed after a surging run down the right and substitute Danny Ward’s first-time shot brought a smart save from O’Donnell.

By the end, the Millers were back giving as good as they got, although Camp had to be sharp to keep out a Jonathan Kodjia shot in time added on.

It was hard at times in the face of such a horribly partisan home following, but the outcome made all the effort worthwhile.

Intimidate Rotherham as they push for safety in such stirring fashion under Warnock? No chance.

Bristol City (4-2-3-1 ): O’Donnell; Matthews, Flint, Baker, Golbourne (Freeman 76); Smith, Pack; Tomlin, Odemwingie (Kodjia 80), Bryan; Wilbraham. Subs not used: Fielding, Little, Agard, Reid, Pearce.

Rotherham United (4-1-4-1 ): Camp; Kelly, Broadfoot, Wood, Mattock; Halford; G Ward, Frecklington, Smallwood, Derbyshire (D Ward 65); Best. Subs not used: Kenny, Richardson, Facey, Thomas, Newell, Clarke-Harris.

Goals: Odemwingie 54 (Bristol City); Derbyshire 11 (Rotherham).

Referee: Gavin Ward (Surrey).

Attendance: 15,248 (324).

Neil Warnock