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Rotherham 2 Leeds 1: Five things we learned

Rotherham delivered yet another dramatic chapter in an amazing story as they beat Leeds 2-1 at New York Stadium in a pulsating encounter at New York Stadium that had it all.

Greg Halford's penalty in the 89th minute won it, but that only tells half the story of another breathless afternoon which might go a long way to securing their Championship safety.

Here's five things we learned from the game.

Rotherham never read the script

Hardly a new one on us this, as Rotherham have made a habit out of doing things the hard way over the years, but this side under the leadership of Neil Warnock just does not read the script. In the same way that they were supposed to become Sheffield Wednesday's latest victims at Hillsborough, run out of steam against promotion-chasing Middlesbrough, lay down and roll over at 3-0 down against Derby and again fall short at Ipswich, things were expected to pan out differently against Leeds. At 1-1 with 10 minutes to go and down to 10 men following the harsh dismissal of Matt Derbyshire, it looked ready-made for a late turnaround win for Steve Evans' side and a stumbling block in the Millers' road to survival. But Warnock's men didn't like that, so they tore up the script and wrote their own. And they made it rich in intoxicating drama with an 89th-minute winner from the penalty spot by a player who the fans used to hate. A draw might have been a fair result, but the Millers' script was better.

Greg Halford has bottle

Greg Halford has arguably filled more column inches than any other Miller this season and talk of his misdemeanours has been done to death. But given a chance under Warnock after being written off by the previous two managers, Halford's redemption was complete with his match-winning heroics. It's little wonder his team-mates poke fun at him by calling him the love child of Warnock. The veteran manager has put complete faith in him, immediately restoring him to the side, and hasn't been let down as a string of fine performances culminated in the conversion of his late penalty in the coolest of fashion. For him to be even taking the spot-kick showed a great amount of bottle. Wrestling the ball off skipper Lee Frecklington, the consequences of missing might have scared other players off, especially with a fractured-but-healing relationship with the fans, but Halford wanted the glory and got it with a sublime penalty to ease the frayed nerves of 9,000 Millers fans. An outcast at the training ground just weeks ago, Halford was the first man the Millers ran to when the final whistle went. The turnaround is complete.

Fantastic Frecks is the right man at the right time

Think of the big moments at New York Stadium over its near four-year existence and one man will be present in almost all of them. Lee Frecklington will just not stop proving how vital he is to the Millers as a goal and an assist, along with a relentlessly energetic display in the middle of midfield, was the latest in a long line of defining contributions for the club. You can add this one to Aldershot, Sheffield Wednesday in the cup, Preston in the play-offs, Reading to secure survival and Middlesbrough a few weeks ago in his roll of honour. As discussed recently, it's no coincidence that Rotherham's form has picked up just as Frecklington has returned to the fray after injury. A few more performances like this and the midfielder, the sole survivor of the League Two promotion campaign under Evans, will be elevated to Hall of Fame status - that's if he's not there already.

Say hello to Steve Evans version 2.0

The main sub-plot of this fascinating Yorkshire derby was the first return to New York for Evans since his exit in September. And it's clear to see that six months away from Rotherham has changed Evans immeasurably both in appearance and conduct. Leeds clearly have a good dietician as the Scot has shed the pounds and while still portly, he is cutting a much leaner figure these days.

It was also evident that life under the microscope at Elland Road has changed the way he portrays himself in the media. If the manner of that defeat had happened to Rotherham when he was in charge, he would undoubtedly have come into the press room after the game sweat dripping, blood vessels pulsing out of his head and embarked on a diatribe of anti-referee nonsense or lashing out at the opposition. But Evans was much more reserved when he returned to the press room he had stormed out of many a time and put on a polished display, humble in defeat against his former club and honest about his own side's performance. Later on during his press conference, he proved just how much he had changed. When tackled about speculation regarding his future he flat-batted it, yet still had to field two more questions on the matter, answering both in a calm and dignified manner. Undoubtedly, if that had been while he was Millers boss, he would have likely shut that line of questioning down very quickly and if anyone dared to revisit it, it would probably have ended in a verbal blast and a storming out of the room. It looks for all the world like Evans will be leaving Leeds in the summer, but he will do so a better diplomat.

Can we play you every week?

Given Rotherham's standing in the Championship and some of the monster-sized clubs they come up against, it's rare for them to have such a hold over one club. But Leeds are definitely one they have a vex over after they completed a seasonal double against the men from Elland Road. The victory means that in six games at this level, going back to 2004, the Millers' record reads W4 D2 L0 F6 A2. In 2004-05 Leeds gave Rotherham their first win of the season In November and the 0-0 draw on the final-day meant that they were the only side not to score against the League One-bound Millers. Then last season, Jonson Clarke-Harris introduced himself to his new club with a fine winning goal on live telly before another season ending 0-0 draw was dominated by Steve Evans' sombrero. In November, Neil Redfearn won the battle of the former managers as he registered a first win of his reign before Saturday's vital three points for the Millers in their bid for Sky Bet Championship safety. If they do manage to stay up this season, they can bank on at least four points coming from their games with Leeds! 

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