Date: 16th April 2015 at 11:01am
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A dominant performance in this relegation battle left Rotherham United wondering how they`d only come away with one point from Craven Cottage against Fulham last night.


With the Fulham faithful practically booing their side onto the pitch the Millers nearly stunned their hosts when a cross from Danny Ward to Matt Derbyshire saw the striker put the ball inches wide of the post. And Fulham have goalkeeper Marcus Bettinelli to thank for rushing out of his area a minute later to chest the ball away and stop Derbyshire nipping in. Lee Frecklington and Danny Lafferty combined well with the defender crossing a ball towards Derbyshire only for Fulham`s Dan Burn to get there just before him. As the travelling fans turned up the noise the Millers got a corner which Ben Pringle swung into the middle for Kirk Broadfoot who tried to put the ball over the line but Derbyshire was there to do it for him and give the Millers a deserved one-nil lead. Coming away to try and celebrate his goal the Milers striker fell in a heap and had to have some treatment eventually hobbling back onto the pitch a couple of minutes later. On seven minutes the stunned Fulham side finally got towards goal and got a corner which was taken by Danny Guthrie towards the head of Matt Smith and after Jack Hunt cleared off the line the ball fell to Burn but he shot into the Millers fans behind the goal. Hunt was soon in action at the other end and a lovely pass to Derbyshire had the home defence in all sorts of trouble before Jazz Richards put the ball behind. Derbyshire was causing problems for Fulham and on the quarter of an hour mark he won another corner which Pringle took and finding Broadfoot the tall centre-half headed straight at Bettinelli. Hunt was also causing problems and forced a number of corners before he put in a super ball to Derbyshire who in turn got it to Danny Ward who saw his shot go just over the crossbar. And Ward was in the thick of the action minutes later when Craig Morgan found Pringle with a ball across the park who in turn found Ward only for his shot to skim the upright and go behind for a goal kick. Kari Arnason then found Derbyshire who in turn brought off a fantastic save from Bettinelli before another couple of chances fell to Ward but the Millers couldn`t capitalise on their lead. A minute before the end of the first half Fulham could have equalised after Bryan Ruiz got free of his marker and headed towards goal only to be thwarted by a fantastic save from Millers` ‘keeper Emi Martinez at the near post. As the board went up for three extra minutes a Pringle cross found the head of Morgan who put the ball into the box for Broadfoot who smashed the ball towards goal only to see the Cottagers ‘keeper save onto the woodwork and the ball go out to safety. The half-time whistle was followed by singing from the away supporters and booing from the home fans.

In the opening minute of the first half Richie Smallwood tripped Ross McCormack and gave away a free-kick just outside the box which McCormack took and blazed high over the bar. At the other end Marcus Bettinelli came to claim a ball which Jack Hunt had put in and with it in his hands ended up a foot outside his area. Surrounded by Fulham player`s referee Andy Davies ignored everyone, including the Millers fans who were shouting ‘off, off, off` and showing no card at all gave the Millers a free-kick on the edge of the area. Ben Pringle took the kick which was too hard and didn`t bother anyone. A poor challenge on Richie Smallwood saw the first yellow card of the night shown to Danny Guthrie before a lovely ball into the box from Hunt was eventually hacked clear. Just before the hour mark a super run by Pringle finished with him having a shot at goal from some twenty-five yards which was saved by Bettinelli before a Fulham corner at the other end is well cleared by skipper Craig Morgan. Tim Hoogland, on for Ryan Tunnicliffe, put the ball into the area but McCormack didn`t react in time to get a foot to it and minutes later Emi Martinez did well to get to the ball before Matt Smith. On sixty-six minutes Fulham got the equaliser after a ball in from Scott Parker found McCormack who firstly appeared to bring the ball down with his hand before bundling, rather than hitting, the ball into the net. The Millers try to hit straight back when a superb pass from Morgan to Danny Ward ended in the ball being put behind and from the resulting corner Ward`s header went just wide. Broadfoot is the first Miller to see yellow when he blocked McCormack on the edge of the box but the former Leeds player blazed the free-kick over the bar. At the other end some fine work from Ward found Broadfoot in the area but he seemed to get his feet mixed up and the Fulham defence got the ball to safety. Hoogland was the next player to have a chance for the hosts but he saw his header go into the Fulham fans behind the goal. With ten minutes to go Burn saw yellow for hand-ball before the Millers had a couple of corners which came to nothing. The next into the referee`s book was Michael Turner for a poor challenge on Matt Derbyshire with Richie Smallwood`s free-kick headed away to safety. As the Millers went looking for a last minute winner a cross into the area from Pringle was cleared before only some good work from Broadfoot at the other end stopped McCormack getting to a cross from Smith.

How the Millers only came away with a point from last night`s game can only be wondered at – chance after chance went begging and, I know we`ve heard this loads of times from Steve Evans, but we really should have been four-or-five up at half-time. It was a superb effort from everyone concerned with Rotherham last night – the management, the players and the fans who never stopped singing.

I just hope we aren’t going to rue all those missed chances.

 
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