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Burnley 2 Rotherham 0: Five things we learned

Rotherham slipped to their 20th league defeat of the season as they were downed by promotion-chasing Burnley at Turf Moor.

Apart from a 20-minute spell in the second half, the Millers were never really in the contest and went down to goals from Sam Vokes and Scott Arfield.

Picture: www.burnleyfc.com

Here's five things we learned from the game.

One moment like this
The margins between success and failure in the Championship are fine and Rotherham have an unhappy knack of being reminded of that on a regular basis in recent weeks. While they were left reflecting on a 2-0 defeat against the Clarets - a result no one can contest - it could have so easily been different had Joe Newell tucked away his golden chance with the score at 1-0 with 10 minutes to go. Newell's first touch from Jonson Clarke-Harris' cross saw him break clear into the area but the Millers midfielder inexplicably missed his shot from 12 yards with the entire goal to aim at. In a game where they had created little else, Newell had to score and it was no surprise to see Burnley put the game to bed at the other end soon after.
It was another example of the Millers not making the most of their key moments in the game, something that has blighted them all season, but specifically in the last few weeks and they have all been costly. Matt Derbyshire's open-goal miss in the first half against QPR let the London side off the hook and they then came out and blitzed the Millers in the second half when they should have been buried while Andrew Shinnie missed a golden chance to put Rotherham in front midway through the second half at Bolton. Had that gone in, the Millers would have most likely gone on to win the game, instead it Wanderers who snatched an injury-time winner that cost Neil Redfearn his job. In a fight where the odds are so firmly stacked against them, the Millers can simply not afford to waste what is often their one moment.

Grant Ward has to regain his starting place
After a run of 20 consecutive starts for the Millers, Grant Ward has counted the cost of Neil Warnock's arrival by being dropped to the bench in the last two games. But on both occasions he has come on as a sub and added a different dimension to the Millers. At Turf Moor he did more in the final few minutes of the first half than the rest of the side had done put together before his arrival and his energy, ability to beat players and pace gave Burnley something else to think about. Ward was a victim of Chris Burke's arrival on loan - an addition to the squad that didn't seem vital which forced Ward into a central position and then the bench. The Nottingham Forest man started his Millers spell well but has tailed off in the last two games and with Ward showing far more in fervour and impact, it's time for him to regain his place on the right.

Greg Halford's re-integration is complete
After his early season mistakes and his social media outbursts, Greg Halford may never win over some Rotherham fans, but he is likely to get the chance to in the final 14 games of the season after his re-integration into the Millers set-up was completed at Burnley with his first 90 minutes in a red and white shirt (well, yellow as it happens) since August. Everything that needs to be said about the 30-year-old and his turbulent time at Rotherham has been said, it's now time for Halford to put his undoubted talent to use and help his side out of this hole. He made a decent fist of doing that against the Clarets as he was dependable at right-back and again looked the part for the final 20 minutes at centre-back. Warnock and Kevin Blackwell might just be the men to get the best out of him and if he can play his part in the great escape then all may be forgiven, even that top-knot.

The next two games could be decisive
Every game is vital says the cliché, which also has Rotherham's next 14 games as cup finals. But we may not be dressing things up too much by saying the next two games are probably going to dictate whether the Millers stay up or not. A trip to Reading on Tuesday followed by the visit of Brentford next week breaks up their run of fixtures against promotion-chasing sides and realistically has to yield no less than four points. Not only are they games against sides with no promotion interest they are against opposition who are woefully out of form. While Reading beat West Brom in the FA Cup - a result which may do the Millers no harm - they have taken only four points from their last six Championship games, the same number as Brentford who have lost their last three. This two-game stint represents the chance to start clawing points back on MK Dons whose defeat to Bristol City on Saturday means it is probably going to be three sides from four that go down. No points from the next two games, with games against Sheffield Wednesday, Middlesbrough, Derby and Ipswich to follow, that could well be goodnight Vienna.

The man, the myth, the legend
Have you ever found yourself wondering whether you imagined Leon Best signing for Rotherham and playing just over 70 minutes before disappearing off the face of the earth? Well, if you did, you were reminded that it was actually real as he came off the bench for his second Millers appearance at Burnley exactly three months after his first. And his return from suspension and injury worries could not be more timely as the Millers search for an extra dimension in attack. Although not doing too much in the 20 minutes or so that he managed at Turf Moor - not unexpected given he has had no reserve time to build fitness - his presence provides a big boost for the Millers. Danny Ward is increasingly looking like he does not fancy the physical challenge of leading a line and Jonson Clarke-Harris put in another one of those performances that had you tearing your hair out and reminded everyone that he is either not ready or simply not cut out to be a man the Millers can rely on in attack. After such a lengthy lay-off we may not see the Best of Leon (see, what we did there) but he gives Neil Warnock an option his predecessor was robbed of.

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