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Five things we learned from the Derby game

Rotherham came within seven minutes of recording a famous victory as they pushed promotion-chasing Derby all the way in a thrilling 3-3 draw.

It was another point towards safety and yet another performance which suggests the Millers belong in the Championship.

Here’s five things we learned from the game.

The Millers now have attacking options

With Matt Derbyshire’s rise to prominence and the January arrival of Danny Ward and Connor Sammon, the days of Rotherham drawing blanks look to be over. The 2015 Derbyshire is akin to having a new player, with his ability to lead the line, his clever running of the channels and his new-found confidence in front of goal. Not only that, but the former Nottingham Forest man has forged good partnerships with both Ward and Sammon. 

Derbyshire and Sammon initially hit it off and Ward found himself out of the side, but the 24-year-old impressed as a sub at Blackburn and then put in an enterprising display in the draw with the Rams. With the midfield beginning to contribute goals it all points to the Millers being able to score enough to bring the points in.

There’s fine lines between success and failure in the Championship

Steve Evans has often talked about the fine margins deciding matches and that was again prevalent against the Rams. With the Millers rampant and 3-1 up, Derbyshire came within inches of making it 4-1 as his rasping drive was superbly turned over by Rams keeper Lee Grant. From the resulting corner, the visitors broke and Tom Ince reduced their arrears, completely changing the game. Rotherham were no longer the dominant force and 25 minutes of backs-to-the-walls defending beckoned. The rest is history.

Richie Smallwood can deliver a free-kick

Well, who knew it? There’s no doubt we know where Richie Smallwood’s strengths lie. The midfielder has been an influential figure in the middle of the park this season, constantly breaking down opposition moves with incessant tackling and blocking. It is a faceless task that often goes without reward. Millers fans have not witnessed too much of an attacking threat from him, indeed his selection as a right winger in November’s defeat at Reading will not live long in the memory.

However, Smallwood showcased his attacking capabilities by scoring his first goal for the club from a free-kick. The delivery from the left was precise enough to ensure that if nobody got a head to it, then it would end up in the back of the net. No one did get a touch to it, Grant punched at fresh air and it ended up in the top corner.

There’s always a chance to play under Steve Evans

Not many people would have expected to see either Rob Milsom or Kirk Broadfoot in a Millers shirt again. But both made their first Championship starts since November and did not let anyone down. Broadfoot shed his calamitous tendencies which dogged his previous appearances and marshalled Darren Bent superbly while Milsom was confident and assured on the ball.

Milsom was on loan at League Two Bury earlier this season, but boss Evans said he has been so good in training that he had no choice but to play him. It proves that no matter how long you have been out of the team or however many new players the club bring in, there’s always a chance to get in Evans’ team. Unless you’re Mat Sadler.

Other managers think Rotherham are decent

If Mick McCarthy and Steve McClaren, both managers who have led sides at the very top level, are right then Rotherham will have no issues retaining their Championship safety this season. McClaren was gushing in his praise of the Millers following Tuesday’s draw, saying: “They have got no problem staying in this league, they are too strong. They have got a good way of playing and we saw that. We didn’t cope with it.”

It must be particularly nice for Evans to hear praise and receive recognition from such esteemed managers and it is vindication for the job he has been doing. And both of those men are spot on, if Rotherham can produce the level they did against Ipswich and Derby then mid-table beckons.

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