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Bolton 2 Rotherham 1: Five things we learned

Rotherham’s season was plunged into dire straits as a second successive defeat to a relegation rival sent them back into the drop zone.

After last week’s damaging loss to Charlton, the Millers suffered another massive body blow as they went down to a last-gasp 2-1 defeat to Bolton.

It leaves them two points from safety and crucially allowed Neil Lennon’s men pull themselves nearer to the Millers.

Here's five things we learned from the game.

Rotherham’s soft underbelly just won’t go away

Rotherham’s inability to tough it out during rough periods and close games out is proving costly and if it carries on in this manner could easily be the difference between going down and staying up. While the knives have been out for Neil Redfearn in fans’ forums after this defeat, no one can honestly say that the Millers deserved to lose the game and Redfearn was even preparing himself to come out and talk about how he was disappointed with a draw. However, not for the first time this season, the Millers crumbled when they needed to be strong and it left them returning over the M62 empty-handed. Bolton did not have a clear-cut chance in the second period until their goal, which came deep into injury time, yet when they did the Millers didn’t deal with it. Their inability to pick up points in games they have competed in and be on the right side of the fine margins means no one in the top five leagues of English football have more defeats than them. That flaw is flashing like a red beacon with the word relegation on it.

Missed chances hurt you

Hey, here’s a new one for you. Rotherham competed with their opponent in a Championship game but failed to take their golden chances and they ended up losing. That’s not happened much in the last 20 months has it? (note the sarcasm). While this was by no means a performance that was on the level of any of their wins this season, nor was it on the level of last week’s horror show against Charlton. As you will have just read above, the Millers deserved to take something out of the game. The only reason they didn’t was their inability to put the ball in the back of the net. Andrew Shinnie, who produced an impressive teaser of what might be to come, should have buried a chance when through on goal midway through the first half. Joe Newell the same. But if the Millers are going to miss the quality of chance that Shinnie did in the second half then it is no wonder they don’t win many games. In acres of space following a knockdown, Shinnie shot straight at Ben Amos in the Bolton goal when he could have picked his spot and if that had have gone in, not many Millers would have doubted they would have gone on to win the game.

It’s been a costly week

Fans of a nervous disposition may not want to take a look at the fixture list over the next six weeks. Redfearn has said that his side have 16 cup finals left this season, well they are going to be devilishly difficult ones as seven of their next eight games are against teams currently residing in the top half, with six of them in the top eight. That makes their last two defeats doubly damaging as not only have they allowed Bolton and Charlton to make ground on them but they have also missed the chance to put some points on the board against so-called weaker opposition ahead of a undoubtedly tough run. Of course, the Millers could easily go and surprise a few of those teams and recoup the dropped points if they can replicate the manner of performance against Hull and Brighton. But, with their frailties outlined already, they could quite easily go through that run of games without winning.

Grant Ward is not a central midfielder

The arrival of Chris Burke has seen Grant Ward shifted into a more central role, but in the last two games it has shown that he’s better suited to the right. The on-loan Spurs man does not get the space he requires in the middle of the park to utilise his pace and energy and still in the habit of wanting to take too many touches, he has found himself getting crowded out. Too often the game passes him by. He’s at his best on the right where time and plenty of grass in front of him to run at defenders and get up the field in support of Danny Ward.

Unlucky or asking for trouble?

Has Redfearn walked under a ladder? Has he put some shoes on a table? Or has a calculated gamble backfired on him? After long-term injuries to Leon Best and Stephen Kelly, both signed midway through the season after being without a club, Redfearn’s latest foray down that avenue has ended in the same result after Luciano Becchio missed the Bolton clash with a groin strain. Although it’s not thought to be serious, Becchio’s absence at the Macron was felt as there was little presence off the bench and he would have probably scored the chance that fell to Shinnie or Richard Wood late on. The Millers boss will say to lose all three like he has, in addition to Aimen Belaid and Lee Frecklington’s injuries, is extremely unlucky and there has to be some bad fortune to it. But cynics will say that the Millers were asking for trouble in hanging their hopes on such players.

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