Rotherham United full-time: Huddersfield Town 2, Millers 0

Rotherham's Danny Ward is denied by Joel Lynch against his former team
Rotherham's Danny Ward is denied by Joel Lynch against his former team

It was a third straight defeat and this was the one which hurt Rotherham United most of all.

After narrow losses against Wolves and Blackburn Rovers, the Millers succumbed to one of the teams near them in the lower reaches of the Championship.

Rotherham's manager Neil Redfearn turns away in dejection after Huddersfield take the lead

Rotherham's manager Neil Redfearn turns away in dejection after Huddersfield take the lead

It’s in matches like these that Neil Redfearn’s men have to pick up results, but the setback at the John Smith’s Stadium leaves them trailing their Yorkshire derby rivals by six points.

The much-heralded return of striker Leon Best, finally clear of a three-match ban, never happened, the striker ruled out by a groin injury.

How they could have done with the experienced targetman in the side. Jonson Clarke-Harris has pace and power to burn but didn’t enjoy one of his better nights and the Terriers deserved their victory after four consecutive home reverses.

The Millers enjoyed a 20-minute spell of dominance after the break and Joe Newell had to score in the 61st minute when he worked himself a clear sight of goal from around eight yards out.

But he shot tamely at Town goalkeeper Jed Steer and with that chance went much of Rotherham’s hope and momentum.

Eleven minutes later, Ishmael Miller raced clear to shoot emphatically past Lee Camp and add to Mustapha Carayol’s spectacular long-range opener in the first half.

Clarke-Harris hit the post at 2-0 down but Rotherham paid the price for a dire first-half display and remain second bottom, while the gap between them and safety has grown to four points.

This was the Millers’ last away fixture before Christmas and, tucked in the middle of a large away following, was a row of fans dressed as Santa Claus.

But it was alarm bells rather than sleigh bells that were ringing from the kick-off as the home side dominated proceedings early on.

Rotherham survived a tough start to keep the game goalless until Carayol’s cracker which was a major setback for the visitors who were struggling to make any impact in attack

Danny Ward, playing against his former club, was sent clean through by Richie Smallwood only to be tackled by Joel Lynch as he shaped to shoot, and that was about their only moment of danger in a desperately poor opening period.

Carayol should have scored in the second minute for Town, firing across goal and wide, Sean Scannell sliced an inviting opoortunity wide seconds later and Ben Chilwell hit the side-netting after eight minutes.

Rotherham skipper Lee Frecklington missed the target with an angled effort from the right after 41 minutes to offer brief respite against a home side very much on the front foot.

After the interval, for an encouraging spell, the Millers looked capable of forcing their way back into the match as they dominated territory and Clarke-Harris saw his shot saved as he latched on to Danny Ward’s headed flick-on.

But Miller, on as a substitute, ended hope of a comeback for the away side.

With Best unable to play, Danny Ward came in up front in a 4-4-2 formation and central midfielder Luke Hyam, a starter in the 1-0 defeat at Blackburn Rovers last Friday, was named among the substitutes.

Hyam, on loan from Ipswich Town, is coming back from a 10-month injury-lay-off and Redfearn is mindful not to give him too much action too soon.

Left winger Brandon Barker was missing from the bench, the loan left winger having returned to parent club Manchester City.

It was a desperately disappointing evening, and that first half in particular made for grim viewing for the impressive Millers support.

Best can’t come back soon enough - for it wasn’t the mist in the West Yorkshire air which made it difficult to see where the goals are going to come from.

Huddersfield Town (4-5-1): Steer; Smith, Hudson, Lynch, Chilwell; Hogg, Holmes (Pasterson) 72); Scannell (Lolley 58), Bunn, Carayol; Wells (Miller H-T). Subs (not used): Allinson, Davidson, Wallace, Dempsey.

Rotherham United (4-4-2): Camp; Buxton, Broadfoot, Collins, Mattock; G Ward, Frecklington, Smallwood (Derbyshire 77), Newell (Hyam 73); D Ward, Clarke-Harris. Subs (not used): Collin, Thorpe, Toffolo, Green, Andreu.

Goals: Carayol 31, Miller 72 (Huddersfield).

Referee: Mark Brown (East Yorkshire).

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