Rotherham United match verdict: Nottingham Forest 2 Millers 1

Danny Collins scores. Pictures: Jim Brailsford
Danny Collins scores. Pictures: Jim Brailsford

Rotherham United, struggling at the foot of the table after two games and justifying the bookmakers’ decision to make them favourites for relegation from the Championship.

Or vastly-improved Millers, so much better at Nottingham Forest than they were on opening day last week and desperately unlucky to return home from the City Ground with nothing to show for their efforts.

Celebrations as the Millers go in front

Celebrations as the Millers go in front

Very often, there are two different views to the same situation or incident.

Take the penalty shout a minute into the second half, for instance, with the score at 1-1 and Steve Evans’ men looking the better side.

Full-back Lewis Buxton played in a good ball from the right and, after Matt Derbyshire had tried his luck, the ball fell to Jordan Bowery who drilled his shot beyond Forest keeper Dorus De Vries.

There was Forest right-back Eric Lichaj, stopping the ball from crossing the line with his arm.

The ball rebounds od Eric Lichaj's arm

The ball rebounds od Eric Lichaj's arm

Millers fans, all 1,513 of them, not to mention 11 Rotherham players, the bench and a certain manager, rose in mass appeal. The Forest followers in the 19,885 crowd held their breath.

No spot-kick, ruled man in the middle Darren Bond.

One moment, two contrasting views, although there was never any debate about what Steve Evans would think.

“The kid on the line’s almost caught it with his left arm and it bounces away,” said the Millers manager.

Forest score their second goal

Forest score their second goal

“We don’t expect anything from that referee. He’s rubbish every time we get him. I’m not saying he’s a rubbish referee, I’m saying he’s rubbish every time we have him.

“We’ll make the calls tonight, like we always do. And the head of referees, on looking at it, will phone me up and say it should have been a red card and a penalty to Rotherham.”

After the game, apparently, American Lichaj admitted his guilt and held up his hands. Twice in one day then.

Rotherham, thoughout the first half, had been excellent. They weathered a bright Forest opening and then went after the home side, denying them time and space, and looking a real threat when they broke forward.

A Derbyshire header from a Buxton cross brought a good save from De Vries and from the ensuing corner Danny Collins rose to power home his header.

Did he celebrate against his old side? You bet he did! It’s in the centre-halves’ code of conduct.

“It’s not just about scoring against my old club, it feels good to get any goal,” he said.

“As a centre-half, you don’t get too many. You’ve got to celebrate it. I’m not one to believe if you score against your old club you don’t celebrate it. You’ve got to enjoy the moment.”

That’s three goals at the City Ground now for Collins, all of which - including two for Ipswich Town - have come against the club for whom he played there for three seasons before joining the Millers.

It looked like being the perfect first-half away display until Forest grabbed an equaliser they barely deserved with just seconds to go to half-time, Matt Mills heading in Jamie Ward’s ball in from the left, which came after a hotly-disputed corner that Rotherham failed to properly clear.

Away fans had bayed in disbelief as the ball looked to have been run out of play right in front of them by a Forest player only for Bond to take the alternate view, award the flag-kick and set in motion the chain of events which would see Rotherham’s winless streak at the City Ground, stretching back to April 1955, extended still further.

Sixty years of hurt never stopped them screaming.

Michail Antonio drove Forest in front from close range in the 61st minute after goalkeeper Kelle Roos failed to make a clean catch and deflected Chris Burke’s cross on to the bar.

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It wasn’t the big keeper’s best moment, but he produced a stunning 75th-minute diving save to keep out a 20-yard Michael Mancienne effort.

A tiring Joe Mattock had failed to cut out the delivery - that’s five out of six goals the Millers have conceded this season that have come directly from crosses - but it would be cruel to point the finger at the left-back who showed up really well on his debut and manfully lasted a full 90 minutes after a month out injured.

Inside two minutes, he showed the value of a proper defender playing as a full-back, cutting out a dangerous through ball with spot-on positioning and then knocking ball and Tyler Walker over the touchline with a perfectly-timed tackle.

Evans said he lay awake for two or three nights after last week’s 4-1 loss to MK Dons, but would sleep easy over the weekend such was the encouragement he had taken from this Millers’ display.

Greg Halford was pushed up front in the closing stages as the away side chased an equaliser, and the unmarked Buxton was only inches away from connecting with his cross at the back post with seven minutes to go.

With Buxton and Mattock finally in harness in the full-back positions, Halford partnering Danny Collins at centre-half and Joe Newell free to utilise his skill and vision futher forward, there was a better balance about Evans’ side.

But the Rotherham boss knows the importance of taking something from tomorrow’s home match with Preston to stop the pressure on his side mounting.

For the record, I thought it was a goal-kick and a penalty, and that Evans, although he’ll be criticised for it, was justified in his dig at the official.

Some may disagree. Different views, eh?

Nott’m Forest (4-4-2): De Vries 6; Lichaj 6, Mills 6, Wilson 6, Mancienne 7; C Burke 6, Vaughan 6, Lansbury 7, Antonio 8; Ward 7 (Blackstock 63, 6), Walker 6 (O Burke 84). Subs not used: Evtimov, Fox, Paterson, Hobbs, Pinillos.

Rotherham United (4-5-1): Roos 6; Buxton 7, Halford 7, Collins 7, Mattock 7; Maguire 6 (White 72), Frecklington 6, Smallwood 7 (Thorpe 81), Newell 8, Bowery 5 (D Ward 72); Derbyshire 6. Subs not used: Collin, G Ward, Green, Ledesma.

Goals: Collins 13 (Rotherham); Mills 45+2, Antonio 61 (Forest).

Referee: Darren Bond (Lancashire).

Attendance: 19,885 (1,513).