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MK Dons 0 Rotherham 4: Four things we learned

Rotherham put themselves on the brink of safety and effectively condemned MK Dons to Sky Bet Championship relegation with a superb 4-0 victory on Saturday.

In a game of such importance, it was a dream afternoon for the Millers who won the points through goals from Matt Derbyshire, Leon Best, Kirk Broadfoot and Richie Smallwood.

Here's five things we learned from the game.

The league table doesn't say it, but Rotherham are safe

The staggering turnaround at the bottom of the table was completed by this rout. Eight games ago, the Millers were six points adrift of MK Dons and staring relegation in the safe. Now, after a truly amazing six weeks, arguably the best in the club's history, they hold a nine-point advantage over the Dons, unthinkable at the time and still barely believable now. It is a seismic shift and with five games left effectively puts the Millers safe. In fact, it could be done and dusted by the time of the full-time whistle against Huddersfield next week. For the Millers to go down now, they can pick no more points up, unlikely given the way things are going, and MK have to win three and draw one of their final four games. It's not mathematically assured yet, but get out your A to Z to Villa Park, the Millers are staying up.

Not a bad way to start

If you're looking for a snapshot as to the difference between this Millers side and the one under the previous regime then you only need to look at the first 54 seconds. In such a humongous game, where the stakes were so high, the start was imperative and the hosts would have been whipped up by Karl Robinson with the intention of getting straight on the front foot. The first 30 seconds would have been pleasing as they forced a corner, but then they were hit by a devastating counter-attack which ended in Derbyshire slamming home at the second attempt. It was a dream start by the Millers, and when Best made it two before the game was even 20 minutes old it was done and dusted. Contrast that to the last game of similar standing - the trip to Bolton - where it was the Millers who were the ones conceding in the opening exchanges, which immediately put them on the back foot before they eventually conceded a last-minute goal that proved fatal for Neil Redfearn. This Rotherham are a million miles away from the old one.

Richie Smallwood returned to the spotlight

Given the recent love-in of Lee Frecklington, it's fair to say Richie Smallwood has fallen off the radar in recent weeks. But the midfielder stepped back into the limelight in some style at stadiummk with a return to his very best form. Smallwood was fighting, scrapping and battling for every ball, breaking up possession and doing the ugly stuff. He'll be remembered best for his stunning fourth goal - a looping volley from 20 yards - but it was another piece of play that typified what Smallwood is about. With the Millers 3-0 up and coasting, the Dons launched a rare attack, but the former Middlesbrough man came sprinting back and produced a sliding tackle that stopped it dead and allowed the Millers to break. A simply superb performance, topped off with a rare goal and so good that we can forget about that header he missed from a yard out.

MK Dons couldn't have been any worse

Imagine fluffing your lines in such a shameful manner on the biggest stage of the season. That's what MK Dons did on Saturday. Despite Robinson's assertion that the 4-0 scoreline flattered the Millers, make no mistake, the Dons were absolute no-shows in a game they needed to win more than any other this season. With the gap now at nine points and euphoria of Rotherham's superb performance, it's easy to forget that had the MK Dons won they would have been just three points adrift of safety and firmly in the survival race. Yet judging by their performance against the Millers, there was nothing riding on this game. They were not only outplayed in every department, they were outfought and that is criminal in such circumstances. A showing of this ineptitude proves they are not a Championship side.

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