His last goal had come way back in October, but Jon Taylor was certain he’d score against Blackburn Rovers.
Over a coffee the day before the match, he had told teammate Kirk Broadfoot the four-month drought was about to end.
The little winger duly obliged in the Championship clash at New York Stadium and raced towards the North Stand in celebration, lifting his red and white jersey to reveal a message of support for an old friend.
He’d been so desperate to reach out to ex-Shrewsbury teammate Connor Goldson, recently diagnosed with a heart condition, he felt it had been written somewhere for him to hit the back of the net.
Written on his shirt was the simple message, ‘Stay strong Con’.
“He’s been my best mate for about 10 years now, but he had a bit of bad news a couple of weeks ago and was told he might never play football again,” said Taylor of the Brighton and Hove Albion 24-year-old defender.
“He has to have a heart operation and has a consultation on Monday, so I just sent a little message for him to keep positive.”
Taylor’s hard, low shot from the right went in with the help of a deflection to put Rotherham in front, and the relief at New York Stadium was palpable.
The division’s bottom club, who would end the day 14 points adrift of safety with 15 games left, had just registered for the first time in five matches.
Only one person of a Millers persuasion didn’t celebrate.
Caretaker manager Paul Warne.
Warne didn’t like what he saw before the interval as his side failed to take a grip on proceedings and hadn’t calmed down by the time Taylor struck in the 47th minute.
“I wasn’t jumping about. I don’t know if you saw my face. I was still raging,” he said.
“At half-time, I lost my rag a little bit. I said I didn’t expect it from that group that I should have to lose my rag. I told them to have more confidence on the ball.”
The scorer summed it up best. “The first half was terrible,” Taylor said. “Rightly so, we got some bad words said to us.”
It took less than two minutes for Warne’s half-time blast to register.
The second half was 90 seconds old when Danny Ward’s cross, with the help of Tom Adeyemi, found its way to Taylor who did the rest.
Two minutes later, Millers goalkeeper Richard O’Donnell pulled off a stunning save to push Charlie Mulgrew’s header on to the bar, but then the Millers took control.
Danny Ward fired just over against poor opposition also in the drop zone, a fingerstop stop from Jason Steele denied Joe Newell from 18 yards and Adeyemi was inches too high with a shot from Ben Purrington’s intelligent feed.
Taylor, ball glued to his feet, made a telling break but, eyes glued to the floor, failed to pick out the unmarked Ward who would surely have scored.
Rotherham’s failure to add a second goal while they were on top came back to haunt them five minutes from the end when a corner somehow found its way to the back post and Stephen Kelly could only bundle the ball into his own net.
The first draw of Warne’s 14 matches in charge almost became a Rovers win in the 90th minute when Marvin Emnes, one of three attacking subs thrown on by the visitors, flashed a header frighteningly close to O’Donnell’s left-hand post.
In that dire opening period, Kelly and Richie Smallwood missed the target for the Millers, Danny Graham and Sam Gallagher did likewise for Blackburn, O’Donnell tipped Jason Lowe’s 20-yarder on to the bar.
Taylor summed it up best, this time without speaking, when his wild 42nd-minute shot went out for a throw-in.
There are plenty of flaws in Taylor’s game and he has found himself in and out of the starting 11. However, Rotherham’s record signing possesses that thing of beauty in a winger: the desire to attack his man.
He wants to run forward all the time. He looks for the gaps. He tries to create danger. It doesn’t always come off. But he always wants, looks and tries.
Anthony Forde, on the other wing, matches Taylor for workrate yet could learn plenty from the scampering Scouser in positive intent.
Warne, without naming names, called out several players for going missing in that unacceptable first 45 minutes, for not stepping up at a time when courage was being asked for.
“I have got no issue with players having a bad game, but at least have the courage to do something,” he said. “Don’t hide, don’t not do the right things because the crowd are on your back.”
The interim boss confessed he was close to making a substitution after 20 minutes as he rejigged the formation, throwing Taylor into a front two, looking to kick-start his side.
Again, no names.
But Forde wasn’t seen after the interval.
Warne described himself as “hugely disappointed” the Millers couldn’t hang on for the fourth victory of his interim reign.
“I knew we needed to score a second goal because I knew there was a chance we would concede,” he admitted.
This was a fixture which is likely to be played out in League One next season.
Rotherham’s second-half purple patch should have been enough to seal the win, but a team of triers simply don’t have enough quality to prosper in this division.
The indictment of them is that, in the same way that Taylor was convinced he would score, Warne was never sure that Blackburn wouldn’t.