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Winning Millers kept out of limelight

Rotherham 2 Millwall 1

Rotherham may have won the game, but they were robbed.

Robbed of the limelight that a vital Sky Bet Championship win over their nearest rivals to move six points clear of the relegation zone should have given them.

And this time they weren’t robbed by the referee or by an opposition player.

Instead it was a section of mindless thugs who masqueraded as Millwall fans.

Despite the size of the win, which has done wonders for the Millers’ survival chances and put the London club in perilous danger, very little has been said about the football in the aftermath of this game.

And that is purely down to the deplorable behaviour of some travelling supporters who inexplicably took exception to their side conceding a late goal and tried to invade home areas of the New York Stadium.

It led to thoroughly ugly scenes which forced riot police to intervene, with further trouble reported outside the ground after full-time.

It meant all the focus both on a local and national level was on the wrong thing and not on Rotherham’s sixth and arguably most important home win of the season.

Although the unrest in the away end was inexcusable on every level, it did at least come in good circumstances if you are a Millers fan.

Kari Arnason’s header five minutes from time earned the home side the points and threatened to cut Millwall adrift in the bottom three.

The afternoon had started off so well for Ian Holloway’s side as they led in the first half but they succumbed to a second-half comeback from Rotherham, who levelled 73 seconds after the restart but were made to wait until the 85th minute to get their just rewards.

All the build-up had been about how this was a game that the Millers dare not lose and understandably so.

So the mood turned pretty glum after the Lions weathered an early storm to steal into a 20th-minute lead.

A deep cross from Shaun Williams found Gary Taylor-Fletcher, who headed back across goal for Martyn Woolford to loop a volley over Adam Collin and into the net.

This was not in the script.

The storyline was to get through the punishing five-game spell in February and then make hay, starting with the visit of Millwall.

That looked a long way off during spells of the first half as, although they had half-chances to level, some of the home defending on show was X-rated.

Indeed, the amount of space between the two centre-halves which allowed Lee Gregory to go through on goal following Taylor-Fletcher’s flick was alarming.

As was the way Gregory advanced unchallenged into the six-yard box.

And it was only the leg of a brave Collin, who stayed big, which denied the Lions striker and kept Rotherham’s deficit down to one goal.

That proved to be a decisive moment of the match, much like Lee Grant’s save from Matt Derbyshire in the 3-3 draw with Derby 10 days ago.

The Millers got to half-time only one behind and after some soothing words from boss Steve Evans it took only 73 seconds of the second period to get back on level terms.

And it was a virtual carbon copy of Millwall’s opener as Ben Pringle whipped a deep ball into the box which Matt Derbyshire headed back across goal and the loose ball was slammed home by Danny Ward.

It took a nick off a defender on the line but Ward rightly claimed his second goal for the club.

That set the tone for the remainder of the match and although there were a couple of nervy, bum-twitching moments in the Millers' penalty area, it was pretty much one-way traffic.

It was a matter of inches that denied the Millers a lead midway through the second half as Jack Hunt’s invasion into the penalty area saw him drive low across goal but the ball thundered into the post and Ward’s shot from the rebound was palmed away by David Forde.

That looked to be as close as the Millers would come as several openings failed to materialise into clear-cut chances.

Then they forced an 85th-minute corner. Pringle whipped in a delicious delivery which Arnason met at the far post to power home a header into the bottom corner.

Cue pandemonium in both sets of terraces.

In the home end there was joy, relief and hysteria.

In the away end there was an initial reaction to the game, with the football fans among the 1300-strong following chanting for Holloway’s head.

Then the thugs took over and, whatever their incitement from Rotherham supporters, if any, they reacted in a shocking manner, trying to climb over mesh netting to get into the home areas of the ground.

It was a throwback to scenes that most people thought were long gone in the game.

It also ensured that not many people will be able to tell you anything that happened in the remaining five minutes and injury time after Arnason’s goal as all eyes were on the away end.

The column inches after the game were full of those Millwall fans and their shocking behaviour, with hardly anything mentioned about Rotherham’s three points.

But ultimately, that’s all that matters.

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