Two minutes of devastation made sure that 60 years of misery continued for Rotherham United at the City Ground.
The Millers were chasing points in their battle for Championship survival against in-form Nottingham Forest, but there was to no unlikely result against a side revived and eyeing a play-off spot under new boss Dougie Freedman.
Rotherham’s last victory on this side of the Trent came way back in 1955, and two goals in 120 seconds towards the end of the first half made it an 18th successive trip back to South Yorkshire without a win.
Dexter Blackstock and Michail Antonio struck in quickfire succession to completely change Millers boss Steve Evans’ half-time team talk.
Rotherham were plucky in the second half, never gave up the fight and almost foreced their way back into the match.
It was a result they didn’t want but one that in some ways they could afford, with Wigan Athletic’s defeat the previous night at home to Watford maintaining the six-point gap between Rotherham and the drop zone.
Another round of fixtures ticked off. Eight more to go.
The first half had been a hard-fought scrappy affair with more yellow cards than proper attempts on goal, but Forest killed the game just when it looked like being ‘job done’ for the Millers.
0-0, an ugly game and a frustrated home side and crowd would have suited them just fine at the interval. They’d have snapped off your hand for it at the final whistle as well.
Instead they trooped off at the break two goals down, after Blackstock and Antonio had done the damage in the 43rd and 45th minutes respectively.
Blackstock was released by Antonio and produced a perfect lob, helped by the advance of Rotherham goalkeeper Adam Collin who found himself caught in no-man’s land. He struggled manfully to get back towards his line but could do no more than touch the ball on to the bar and into the goal.
On the stroke of half-time, Antonio, who had been Forest’s main threat all half, broke from the halfway line and buried a low drive from 20 yards into the corner past Collin’s right hand.
The Millers battled hard but their final ball was too often poor and home centre-halves Jamaal Lascelles and Kelvin Wilson stood impressively firm.
Kari Arnason, again playing in midfield with teenager Ferrand Rawson continuing in central defence, shot high and wide for the Millers before Ben Pringle tested Lascelles’ ability to soak up a headache in the 34th as the Forest man threw himself at his fierce shot from the edge of the area.
After Millers right-back Jack Hunt had departed injured to widespread applause against his former club, Rotherham’s first real sight of goal came in the 53rd minute. Pringle crossed from the left and Lee Frecklington, stealing into space at the back post, misdirected a tame volley wide.
It was a three-quarter chance but the kind they needed to take if they were to haul themselves back into the match.
Three minutes later ‘Freck’ hit a ball like he truly can, smacking the post from 20 yards on the volley with Forest keeper Karl Darlow beaten.
Forest old boy Matt Derbyshire fluffed a volley in front of goal, Conor Sammon was denied by a superb save from Darlow and Frecklington had another shot blocked as the visitors enjoyed their best spell of the game, but for the last 20 minutes the home side was the one doing most of the pressing.
Watford had done the Millers a huge favour 24 hours early, Next up for Rotherham is the little matter of a South Yorkshire derby at AESSEAL New York Stadium on Saturday against Sheffield Wednesday where they will be without Arnason who picked up his 10th booking.
The need for points will be felt more keenly then rather than last night at a stadium where their long, winless run is so wretched.
Let’s just hope they’re back in 2015/16 for another go.
Nottingham Forest (4-3-3): Darlow; Mancienne, Wilson, Lascelles, Lichaj; Gardner, Lansbury, Osborn; Burke (Walker 90+2), Blackstock (Barrow 78), Antonio. Subs not used: Collins, Fox, Vaughan, Paterson, Evtimov.
Rotherham United (4-2-3-1): Collin; Hunt (Richardson, 47), Rawson, Broadfoot, Lafferty; Smallwood (Milsom, 56), Arnason; Sammon, Frecklington, Pringle; Derbyshire (Bowery, 75). Subs not used: Thompson, Green, Morgan, Hammill.
Referee: Michael Bull (Essex).
Attendance: 20,569 (1,025).