Rotherham lost for a 17th time this season as Barnsley won the South Yorkshire derby 1-0 at New York Stadium.
Adam Armstrong’s 70th-minute goal proved decisive as the Millers slipped back to 11 points from safety.
Here’s five things we learned from the game.
Danny Ward’s last game?
With the the transfer window closing just hours after Rotherham take the field at Nottingham Forest on Tuesday, that could have been Danny Ward’s last game for the club. The speculation has been rife throughout January and the Millers have already fended off several bids. As the window draws shut, QPR look likely to step up their interest in a bid to get their man so the Millers may yet have a decision to make. If it was his last Millers appearance he could have signed off with a goal or two as he had the Millers’ best two opportunities, but it was a disappointing showing overall as he was bossed by the Barnsley defence.
Players dropping like flies
Paul Warne must have driven over a black cat at some point over the last few weeks as he is having zero luck with injuries. The treatment room is already standing room only, meaning he can barely fill the bench, and matters got worse on Saturday. Tom Adeyemi fell ill two hours before kick-off, though was named among the substitutes, Aimen Belaid went off to a hamstring injury before the break, the same problem that ended Darnell Fisher’s and Richard Wood was described as the “walking dead” by the end of the game by Warne. With Kelvin Wilson watching Notts County’s win over Crawley on Saturday ahead of his proposed move, the Millers may struggle to put out a side on Tuesday night, regardless of any incomings. The absence of Adeyemi was especially disappointing as it forced Warne to change his plans.
Here’s what you could have had
Rotherham fans finally got to have a look at a front pairing of Tom Bradshaw and Adam Armstrong, though it was for the opposition. For much of the summer it looked like they may be playing at New York every other week as they were both targets for Alan Stubbs, who decided to sign neither. It was inevitable that one of them was going to score. Which one did you have your money on? On this evidence, Bradshaw might not have made too much difference to the Millers’ season as he was never really in the game, but Armstrong showed his worth. The Newcastle loanee scored the winner with a cool finish, hit the crossbar with a chance in the first half and was a threat throughout, coming deep and pulling out wide. Thanks again Alan.
They’re just not as good as everyone else
Under Warne, Rotherham will match every team for effort, heart and desire and for periods of time it pays off. For 89 minutes at Sheffield Wednesday, 45 minutes at Leeds and Newcastle and for 90 minutes against Norwich, they have shown that they can go toe-to-to with sides pushing for promotion. But then, usually, quality tells and that was the case against the Reds. On the overall play, the Millers completely matched Barnsley, but did not have that something extra special to unlock the door, whereas their visitors did. A sublime defence-splitting pass and cool finish was enough to win a game that looked destined to be goalless and infuriatingly they both came from players the Millers tried to sign. Put Rotherham in those positions and Jon Taylor gets his effort blocked, Anthony Forde does the wrong thing or Jerry Yates can’t quite get the ball under control. That has been the key to this season – the majority of Rotherham’s players just aren’t as good as everyone else’s.
There was some late drama after the game at New York Stadium as everyone who remained there were evacuated shortly after 5pm after a suspicious package was found in one of the hospitality lounge. It meant players, still in their kit, were loitering around outside for 20 minutes while the offending item was investigated. It turned out to be a false alarm and normality was restored. The jokes were flying on Twitter as to what the suspicious item was, ranging from Dexter Blackstock’s wage slip to Alan Stubbs’ personality, but it turned out to be a rucksack with a coat and jumper in it. It wasn’t a bomb – the Millers’ season did that a long time ago.
From the notebook
During the evacuation, 10 minutes after losing a South Yorkshire derby Warne was stood outside cuddling his daughter to keep her warm. It was a touching that the Millers boss has not lost sight of what really matters even in times of disappointment.
It’s funny how referee Keith Stroud saw every little nudge and pull from Rotherham players but struggled to pick up every time Barnsley pair Angus MacDonald and Marc Roberts climbed over the back of Danny Ward and Jerry Yates.
Did Stephen Kelly come on with cement in his boots? The way he was out-paced by Armstrong, who had 20 yards to make up, was worrying, but the Irishman got better as the game went on and could well be called on at Forest.
Poor old Anthony Forde. A willing runner but so short of confidence he rarely makes the right decision in possession.
Back to 11 points adrift of safety. With games coming up against Forest, Bristol City and Blackburn it really is now or never for the Millers.