Rotherham United might lose three points before the season is over to a Football League charge.
They certainly lost two at Craven Cottage last night in their survival scrap with Fulham.
The Millers, accused of fielding an ineligible player and with a pending disciplinary hearing with the power to make the deduction, should have been out of sight by half-time.
Chance after chance went begging, and the home side were able to ease their own relegation fears with an equaliser after the break.
When the dust had settled, Rotherham were five points clear of Millwall who occupy the third and final relegation spot. The Millers have three matches to play, the Lions four. Rotherham will go before a panel, Millwall won’t.
But if you’re facing a charge and adversity, this was how to answer it.
The Millers were dominant before the break, weathered Cottagers pressure for a spell and then, roared on by superb away support, had a real go again themselves towards the end.
They got off to the perfect start when Matt Derbyshire pounced after four minutes. Ben Pringle’s corner ran loose in the penalty area and the striker, who now has nine goals since February, was first to react from close in.
Rotherham were by far the better side in the first half, completely outworking opponents packed with Premier League experience and should have gone in at half-time at least three goals to the good.
Derbyshire had side-footed just wide after only 23 seconds before his opener, and with a quarter of an hour gone Kirk Broadfoot headed straight at Fulham keeper Marcus Bettinelli with the goal gaping.
With the visitors pressing and continually turning the home side, Derbyshire was next up, latching on to Kari Arnason’s superb ball over to the top in the 27th minute only to shoot too close to Bettinelli
Danny Ward, back in the starting line-up after injury, shot over on the turn before directing an effort just wide after a probing diagonal pass from Craig Morgan sent Pringle skipping past his marker.
Against that, all Fulham had was a Brian Ruiz shot superbly saved by Emi Martinez as the Costa Rican bore down on goal from the left.
What Rotherham had was their goal, and they signed off for the interval with a Broadfoot shot after Morgan’s header back across goal from Pringle’s deep cross being touched on to the post by Bettinelli.
Whatever was to come in the second half, Rotherham had got their first period spot on.
Fulham had to improve and they did. They carried more attacking intent and when Matt Smith headed on Ross McCormack cleverly angled his run to take possession and steer the ball past Martinez’s right hand.
Rotherham had made four changes, bringing in Morgan, Lee Frecklington, Pringle and Ward, and they all played their part in a display full of heart and endeavour.
Time will tell what the charge will mean to their safety scrap. The only thing they were guilty of here was wasting the chance to secure the victory their performance deserved.
Fulham (4-4-2): Bettinelli, Richards, Burn, Turner, Husband; Tunnicliffe (Hoogland 58), Parker, Guthrie, Ruiz; Smith, McCormack. Subs: Kiraly, Hoogland, Stafylidis, Hutchinson, Woodrow, Rodallega, Kavanagh.
Rotherham United (4-4-2): Martinez; Hunt, Morgan, Broadfoot, Lafferty; Frecklington, Smallwood, Pringle; Derbyshire, Ward. Subs: Collin, Wood, Wilson, Hammill, Green, Bowery, Milsom.