In this encounter, Rotherham United put in a spirited performance to earn a third successive league win, after victories over Brentford and Sheffield Wednesday. This means that the Millers have moved to within a point of their closest rivals, Mk Dons.
This result added to a number of occasions this season that Middlesbrough have lost against a side who are located in the lower echelons of the division.
Middlesbrough were dominant in the first half and they could have easily been a few goals up. They struck the inside of the post via a free-kick from Gaston Ramirez, while David Nugent fired over the bar from his one on one opportunity against Millers keeper, Lee Camp.
The Boro really did show their class during the first half and they would have been out of sight had they made the most of their chances.
The home side did ride their luck in the first half, but, in the second period, they came out and battled valiantly in a brilliant second half display, in which, they were arguably the better side.
As the game went on, Middlesbrough started to resort to a big boot style of play, as they were running out of ideas of how to break the Millers down.
Therefore, the Rotherham manager, Neil Warnock and his players deserve a lot of credit for the way they handled their opponents, in restricting them to rare clear cut opportunities in the second half.
All of Rotherham’s hard work payed off in the end. In the 89th minute, Jonson Clarke-Harris outmaneuvered youngster, Dael Fry, before laying the ball into the box. It eventually fell to Lee Frecklington, who fired the ball to the roof of the net to beat Boro keeper, Dimi Konstantopoulos.
Rotherham holding midfielder, Greg Halford, was then sent off, after he received his second booking. This caused a nervous last five minutes for the Millers, but they held on to earn an invaluable three points.
Neil Warnock was delighted with the victory, which boosted Rotherham’s chances of staying up again this season:
“I am enjoying it, the Championship is my thing really. I love the blood and thunder.
That’s not my fault they missed chances, they were trying to help me out. (David) Nugent had a couple of good ones, you have to take your chances don’t you?
It’s a great win for us, we have to scrap for everything, the extra two points are a bonus but we kept fighting until the end.”
Middlesbrough manager, Aitor Karanka, also gave his thoughts on the game:
AK: "They decided to win, they were fighting for every ball as if it would be the last ball for them." #rufc
— Jonathan Veal (@jonathandveal83) March 8, 2016
Warnock got his tactics spot on once again to help his side to victory. His team set off playing with a 4-4-2 formation, which did not work very well as Middlesbrough dominated early on. The manager then decided to alter the formation to 4-1-4-1, which worked ever so well on Saturday in the victory over Sheffield Wednesday.
This change was key as the Millers went on to turn the game around in the second half, to go onto grab all three points.
This victory will give a huge boost to the Millers squad. A win this coming Saturday against Derby, could see Rotherham move out of the relegation zone. This is a situation that many would not have believed to be plausible before their upturn in form.
The defeat is a blow to Middlesbrough’s title hopes, as they fell four points behind Burnley, with other teams queuing behind them to take an advantage in the race to finish in the automatic promotion places.
Although, Middlesbrough arguably have the most talented squad in the Championship, so they do have the ability to come back from this defeat and to push on towards the Premier League.