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Rotherham 0 Preston 0: 5 things we learned

Rotherham registered their first point of the season at the third attempt as they drew 0-0 with Preston in a game that rarely looked like finishing any other way.

Still, at least the Millers notched a clean sheet, moved off the bottom of the table and ended a run of successive defeats.

Here are five things we learned from the game.

Jonson Clarke-Harris ain't bad when he has a point to prove

After not getting a sniff in the opening four games of the season and rejecting loan moves, including the chance to join Colchester, Jonson Clarke-Harris was eventually given a place on the bench against Preston and the manner of the first-half display and the ineffectiveness of Jordan Bowery meant he got his chance early in the second half. It was immediately clear that the Millers' club-record buy had a bee in his bonnet as he came on and made an impact. He won headers, ran at defenders and generally brought a bit of vigour to the team. If you actually look at what he did in isolation it wasn't much, but in comparison to what had happened before he came on his energy gave the Millers a shot in the arm they needed. Now Clarke-Harris has to build on this performance, he has to prove to Evans, who had all-but lost faith in him, that this is the start of him coming good and beginning to justify that £400,000 price tag. In the past, he has always been a flash in the pan, but for everyone's sake this time, he has to become a raging fire.

Jordan Bowery can play left-back

If we learned anything from Jordan Bowery's 60-odd minutes on the left hand side of midfield is that if Joe Mattock, Aidy White, Joe Newell or Danny Collins are ever all unavailable then Evans could throw the Millers striker into the left-back position. After an ineffective showing on the flank against Nottingham Forest on Saturday, Bowery was given another chance but did little to prove the doubters wrong. Indeed, his best contributions came in a defensive capacity as he provided cover for Mattock on several occasions during the first half. In an attacking sense, he produced very little, albeit not in preferred position and never got in a position where he could run at defenders and do the things we saw in pre-season. That must be incredibly frustrating for him. How long Evans will persevere with the one-time club-record signing in that position will remain to be seen but on this evidence it cannot be much longer.

Rotherham need Joe Mattock match fit

The sooner Rotherham can get 90 minutes out of Joe Mattock the better. Mattock's lack of match fitness, which came as a cost of a three-week lay-off in pre-season, meant he had to be taken off after 70 minutes and it had a detrimental effect at both ends of the pitch. Firstly, it meant that Joe Newell had to slip back to left-back. The former Peterborough man is a capable player in that position, but few would argue that he is not as defensively solid as Mattock. Moreover, being forced backwards totally neutered him as an attacking force, until the final few minutes when the Millers were pushing forward. Newell has been a real plus point of the season so far and he looks like one of the only genuine creative threats the Millers possess at this stage.

There's a worrying lack of cutting edge

If they were still playing now, Rotherham probably wouldn't have managed to get the ball in the back of the net against a Preston side who are yet to concede this season. It was a frustrating evening for the hosts, of course not helped by the fact they employed a 4-5-1 formation in the first half, which made them anonymous as an attacking force. Things improved after the break – though that's not saying much – and they huffed and puffed when Clarke-Harris came on but there was never the feeling of 'a goal is coming'. Newell was the creative spark but there was little offered by anyone else, which left Matt Derbyshire feeding on scraps. In fairness, there won't be many sides that come to New York and play only one up front, but Rotherham need to start putting the ball in the back of the net and that is something that did not look likely against Simon Grayson's men.

The Millers are vulnerable from set-plays

Had Bailey Wright placed his free header from a corner slightly better, Rotherham would have been looking at a third straight defeat. That chance for Wright was one of a few nervy moments that the hosts endured from set-pieces. With a goalkeeper who, however impressive at shot-stopping he might be, refuses to come out of his six-yard box to collect deliveries and a central defender and captain in Greg Halford, who at this stage, does not appear willing to put his body on the line for the cause the Millers look vulnerable. The way Wright ghosted in for that chance was alarmingly similar to the way Matt Mills was allowed to power in for Nottingham Forest's equaliser on Saturday. It's an area that needs work if the Millers are to prosper this season.

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