Match Highlights & Report: Rotherham United 2 Brighton 0

Joy for Danny Ward as he celebrates scoring
Joy for Danny Ward as he celebrates scoring

Two things shook up the Championship as Rotherham United claimed three priceless points to move further clear of the drop zone.

The Millers deservedly ended Brighton’s unbeaten league run, away from home, stretching back to the start of the season and, after conceding eight times this season on the stroke of half-time, they finally bagged a goal themselves close to the break.

Danny Ward’s 44th-minute effort set Rotherham on their way in a game they dominated in the first half before holding out bravely in the second as the Seagulls looked to preserve their proud record.

For good measure, the Millers added a second goal in the 86th minute when Matt Derbyshire volleyed home inside the area.

If you’re going to take an unbeaten record, you may as well do it in style.

This was a great victory, coming at a crucial time after three away defeats, and lifts them a place up the table to 20th and three points above the relegation places.

“We deserved to win and I don’t think anyone could doubt that,” said manager Neil Redfearn, three months to the day after succeeding Steve Evans. “I thought we played some good football. We were always on the front foot, I thought we got the tempo right. We pressed them at the right times.”

And he reserved praise for his two scorers.

“The difference today was the front two. I thought they were magnificent,” he said. “They looked a threat for the 90 minutes.

“The stuff we’re doing through the week in training, I can see it now in the performances of all the players.”

Richie Smallwood battles

Richie Smallwood battles

The Millers were much the better side from the first whistle and all the penalty-area action was at the visitors’ end.

They had threatened several times without being able to produce the finish, but that changed in the 44th minute when they swept into a deserved lead.

Joe Mattock broke on the left and fired in a superb cross which Danny Ward, taking advantage of Lewis Dunk slipping over, half-volleyed home at the back post in fine style.

Before then, Derbyshire, three times, Grant Ward, Danny Ward and Paul Green had all had efforts on goal in one form or another.

Millers v Brighton match action

Millers v Brighton match action

Brighton hadn’t mustered a proper effort in the first 45 minutes but upped their game as the Millers battled and pressed their way to a memorable triumph.

Dale Stephens should have scored for Chris Hughton’s side when he went clean through after 52 minutes only to shoot wide and then substitute Bobby Zamora headed wide with a quarter of an hour to play.

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But the Millers weren’t without a threat themselves and Derbyshire should have done better than shoot tamely at goalkeeper David Stockdale in the 59th minute after a lightning break involving Mattock and Danny Ward.

He did somewhat better with four minutes of the regulation 90 remaining, latching on to mistake from Bruno Saltor inside the area to volley emphatically home.

Th injury-hit Millers showed one change from the side which had exited the FA Cup at Leeds United on Saturday, with Derbyshire coming in up front to partner Danny Ward in a switch from the recent 4-2-3-1 formation to 4-4-2.

Paul Green in possession

Paul Green in possession

Young loanee Shay Facey dropped back from midfield to his favoured right-back role in place of Frazer Richardson.

The last time Rotherham United played Brighton at home they won the match 1-0 yet still found themselves three points worse off.

A paperwork error back in April involving the loan deal of Farrend Rawson meant Rotherham broke the rules by fielding the young centre-half and the Football League took away the spoils of their victory.

On this cold January evening, the only dodgy thing about Rawson was the hamstring which kept him out of contention, leaving 11 other heroes to do the job.

Despite the deduction towards the end of the last campaign, the Millers seccured their Championship survival after a season of struggle three games later.

Happily, there’s no prospect of points being taken away this time and, on the evidence here, Rotherham look more than capable of staying up again.

Rotherham United (4-4-2): Camp; Facey (Richardson 74), Broadfoot, Belaid, Mattock; G Ward, Smallwood, Green, Newell; D Ward (Clarke-Harris 74), Derbyshire. Subs not used: Cairns, Collins, Wood, Ledesma, Thorpe.

Brighton (4-4-2): Stockdale; Bruno, Greer (Crofts 82), Dunk, Ridgewell; Knockaert, Stephens, Kayal, Murphy (LuaLua 73); Wilson (Zamora 62), Hemed. Subs not used: Maenpaa, Calderon, Goldson, Baldock.

Goals: D Ward 44, Derbyshire 86 (Rotherham).

Referee: Oliver Langford (West Midlands).

Attendance: 9,295 (375).