Full-time Millers verdict: Blackburn Rovers 1 Rotherham United 0

Full debutant Luke Hyam strikes on goal for the Millers - but it was an effort at the other end which would cost them dearly
Full debutant Luke Hyam strikes on goal for the Millers - but it was an effort at the other end which would cost them dearly

Much had been expected of him on his first start for Rotherham United.

Luke Hyam, the Ipswich Town loanee, had been mentioned beforehand as a possible Premier League player by Millers manager Neil Redfearn, and the midfielder had impressed in two outings as a substitute.

What no-one expected was the own goal which turned this Championship clash in Blackburn Rovers’ favour on the half-hour mark.

It was cruel luck on a 24-year-old on the comeback trail after ten months out with a knee injury as his attempt to clear a cross ended in the ball flying past Rotherham keeper Lee Camp.

He was withdrawn from proceedings in the 68th minute, no doubt ruing that 30th-minute contribution that cost the Millers their chance of leaving the drop zone.

On a December evening which had seen the pitch receive a dusting of snow before kick-off it was cold comfort to Redfearn’s men that they deserved something from the game against a side now unbeaten in their last seven outings.

They just weren’t quite good enough in their opponent’s half to make it happen.

Rotherham looked organised and disciplined from the off, with Blackburn guilty of overplaying at the back and the Millers denying them time and space.

The visitors should have gone ahead in the nine minute when a mix-up allowed Hyam a clear sight of an open goal from the left edge of the area, but his shot was blocked on the line by Grant Hanley

The ball fell to skipper Lee Frecklington who shaped to score but Hanley produced his second vital intervention to keep the game goalless.

Rovers were finding chances hard to come by and, after an easy save for Lee Camp from a Markus Olsson shot in the 17th minute, didn’t really threaten until midway through the first half when Ben Marshall stung Camp’s hands after a gliding run forward by former Millers loan favourite Tom Lawrence.

But they went in front on the half-hour mark when the Craig Conway, a scorer in Rovers’ 2-1 win between the two clubs at Ewood Park last season, whipped in a vicious cross which poor Hyam headed straight into his own net.

Joe Newell forced Jason Steele into a good parry as he shot from a right angle on the right and there was a tap-in to be had if any of his teammates had been following up.

On the stroke of half-time, great footwork from Grant Ward didn’t produce the finish it deserved, the ball flying high and wide to test someone’s handling in the crowd rather than that of Steele.

Rotherham battled hard after the interval but lacked attacking guile at key moments on a night when, generally, both defences were on top.

Right midfielder Grant Ward’s driving runs were proving to be the Millers’ biggest threat and one such burst down the flank and cross produced a real moment of danger in the Rovers’ penalty area as Hyam directed the ball goalwards only for Corry Evans to deflect it for a corner.

Blackburn, for a team now unbeaten in their last seven matches, were poor and in a game of too many errors and not enough tempo, the Millers will see this a chance missed to increase their points tally.

Camp had to be at his best to beat out a Shane Duffy header and at the other end Jonson Clarke-Harris saw his header diverted wide of the post.

But, although Rotherham pressed to the end, there were no clear-cut chances.

Substitute Matt Derbyshire nearly did something in time added on a nearly night for Redfearn’s side.

Next up for Rotherham is a Tuesday-night trip to fellow strugglers Huddersfield Town, where striker Leon Best is available after his three-match ban and defender Stephen Kelly could return from a calf injury.

Two men who will add an injection of quality Redfearn knows his squad really needs.

Blackburn Rovers (4-4-1-1): Steele; Henley, Duffy, Hanley, Olsson; Marshall (Taylor 81), Evans, Akpan, Conway; Lawrence (Brown 66); Rhodes (Guthrie 88). Subs: Eastwood, Spurr, Kilgallon, Williamson.

Rotherham United (4-5-1): Camp; Buxton, Broadfoot, Collins, Mattock; G Ward, Frecklington, Hyam (Derbyshire 68), Smallwood, Newell (Barker 88); Clarke-Harris. Subs: Collin, Thorpe, Toffolo, Green, Yates.

Goals: Hyam og 30 (Blackburn).

Referee: Tony Harrington (Cleveland).

Attendance: 13,045 (653).

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