Fulham 2 Rotherham 1: Four things we learned

Rotherham returned to losing ways with a 2-1 defeat at Fulham on Tuesday night.

Things started well as Joe Newell put them ahead, but goals from Stefan Johansen and Floyd Ayite gave Fulham the three points.

Here’s five things we learned from the game.

The reality is a lot easier to take now

Back in the days of Alan Stubbs, when he deployed a hare-brained system which was asking for trouble and the famed Rotherham United spirit was non-existent, defeats were harder to take. In fact they made you angry, so bad were the performances and so glaring were the tactical deficiencies. But now, the improvements are evident and with a proper back four, trying to defend properly, and a no-nonsense style that has every player working into the ground, it is far easier to accept the reality that the other teams in this division are just so much better than Rotherham. When the players work as hard as they did at Craven Cottage – which matched the effort against QPR – it really is hard to come away with anything other than an acceptance that the Millers have been beaten by a better team. Unless there is significant January incomings, that is unlikely to change.

Izzy Brown back to his best

The defeat was not all one-way traffic, though, and in fact the Millers had the better chances in the opening half-an-hour and one man was at the forefront of it. Izzy Brown – after dipping under Stubbs and Kenny Jackett – is having a resurgence and he followed up Saturday’s goalscoring heroics with another impressive display – until it was cruelly cut short by injury. Brown was masterful against a Fulham defence offering gaps and he linked up well with Danny Ward, who by this season’s standards was off his game. But Brown, who missed a chance in the first few minutes, was marauding, running at players and being Rotherham’s best player. He limped off with a hamstring injury and the Millers will have everything crossed that it is not serious.

Not paying the penalty!

Given how much defending Rotherham have had to do this season it is little surprise that they concede penalties pretty often. But, unlike other areas of defending, this is one thing they seem pretty good at repelling. After referee Steve Martin was the only person to see a foul by Aimen Belaid on a Fulham attacker, Chris Martin stepped up to the spot but Lewis Price guessed right and kept out his effort with a fine save down to his left. That stop was the fourth consecutive spot-kick the Millers have kept out after Lee Camp saved one against Reading and then two at Derby last month.

Can’t score from three yards but can from 20!

Rotherham’s reward for an impressive start was a 24th-minute goal from Joe Newell and the Millers midfielder banished his embarrassment from that miss on Saturday with a fine strike. As the Millers stole the ball on the right, it ended up with Brown who squared to Newell and the Millers man fired into the bottom corner from 22 yards, giving goalkeeper David Button no chance. Newell’s form this season has been discussed before so it was important for him to break his duck, especially after Saturday.

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