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Five things we learned from the Blackburn game

Rotherham's three-game unbeaten run came to an end at Blackburn on Tuesday night as they conceded a late Jordan Rhodes goal at Ewood Park.

After a limp first-half performance it looked as if the Millers had earned a point after another goal by Matt Derbyshire.

But Rhodes had the final say and poor results for them elsewhere saw Steve Evans' men pulled back towards the relegation dogfight.

Here are five things we learned from the game.

Evans has game-changing options on the bench

There's no doubt that January was a good month in the transfer window as, although Evans cleared up his own mess by getting rid of the duff signings, he replaced them with quality additions which made for a squad with much more depth. That was evidenced at Charlton when Jack Hunt, Danny Ward and Adam Hammill all came on and changed the course of the game and those three were at it again on Tuesday.

With Hunt and Hammill coming on after 50 minutes and Ward following not long after, their arrival sparked the Millers into life and improved them immeasurably. Ward led the line well and had more of an impact than Connor Sammon, dropping into deep positions and getting around the pitch well. Hunt, who ended up at right-back after Frazer Richardson suffered a suspected dislocated shoulder, showed more energy than Connor Newton, while Hammill's trickery and unwavering belief in his ability contributed more than Ben Pringle, who had an off day.

The Millers have not always had that quality to turn to this season, despite the plethora of signings, but with this group, if Plan A isn't working, there is a fine Plan B to go to.

Matt Derbyshire is an obvious pick for anytime goalscorer

It's funny how football can change in such a short time. Just weeks ago Derbyshire was derided for his lack of goals with the Millers, with his shortage of confidence in front of goal shining brighter than the AESSEAL New York Stadium floodlights. He was in and out of the team more than anyone else and, although working the channels well and getting into good positions, rarely looked like scoring. 

Four games later, the 28-year-old, revitalised by playing with Sammon, has scored three goals, with a fourth unfairly ruled out, and is on course to be the Millers' comfortable top scorer. The chances that were being missed earlier on in the season are now going in and he looks every inch the goal-getting striker Evans' side have been craving all year. With his current run of form, he looks a good bet to boost your winnings.

Zeki Fryers needs to improve his distribution

Viewed in isolation, you'll struggle to find a worse 45-minute performance in a Millers shirt than Fryers' first-half showing at Ewood Park. Here is a player, who began his career at Manchester United and commanded a reported £5million fee. Yet, with almost every touch in the first half against Blackburn the left-back gave the ball away, skewing it out of play or aimlessly sending it long, not to mention some suspect positional play. 

There looked a genuine fear to be on the ball and he opted to get rid as soon as it came near him. It was his shanked clearance that led to Blackburn's opener as, under no real pressure, he sprayed it across the pitch instead of down the channel, with Craig Conway eventually putting it in the top corner. Ironically, another mis-hit clearance led to the Millers' leveller as a wild hack ended up at the feet of Danny Ward, with the only certain thing about that being that was not his intended destination. He only has game left of his loan spell and Evans has a decision to make about whether he stays or goes.

Paul Green needs to practice headers

As all the Millers presspack had their heads down frantically scrambling a rewrite after Jordan Rhodes' late winner, they should have been made to do another one which would have been far more enjoyable had Paul Green been able to score a free header. The midfielder had time and space at the near post, but from only six yards out he shockingly put his effort wide and the chance was gone.

It's not the first time Green has missed a sitter with his head this season, which has proved costly. He inexplicably missed the target with two simple chances at Hillsborough in November's stalemate, while also heading wide a golden opportunity in the 1-0 defeat at Brentford. They have all been match-defining chances and although the Irishman has done many good things so far this campaign, and is a potential player-of-the-year candidate, heading ain't one of them.

The relegation fight isn't over

Such was the quality and significance of the win over Ipswich at the weekend, that after going six points clear of the dropzone there was a feeling that the Millers could genuinely start to look up rather than over their shoulders. But football has a habit of biting you on the backside and after defeat in east Lancashire and a second away win on the bounce for Millwall, the gap between Evans' men and the relegation zone is back to three points and the Millers are firmly back in the dogfight. Play like they did against Ipswich and they'll be fine, play like they did for 50 minutes at Ewood Park and there could be trouble.

That said, it's still in their own hands. It would have to be some turnaround for Blackpool or Wigan to catch them so effectively they are playing to avoid one relegation spot and with Millwall, Brighton and Wigan still to come to New York and Charlton in freefall, the odds have to be in their favour. 

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