Rotherham United secured their first league victory since August against QPR, with the only goal of the game coming from on-loan Chelsea youngster Izzy Brown in the 24th minute.
There were a frantic first couple of minutes to the game. The first chance came through the returning Rotherham captain Lee Frecklington. He found space in the box before letting off his shot which was well saved by Alex Smithies.
Then just a minute later, Darnelle Fisher failed to clear, allowing QPR’s Conor Washington to try his luck from outside the area, only to see his effort tipped over the bar by Lewis Price.
The two sides continued to tussle for a foothold in the game and after 24 minutes, it was Rotherham who went 1-0 in front.
A quick throw-in to Rotherham’s Izzy Brown left him with space to run into in the final third. He breezed past Jordan Cousins before laying the ball off to strike partner Danny Ward.
Ward’s first time through ball to Brown left him clean through on goal and he made no mistake as he finished excellently into the bottom left-hand corner to put his side one goal to the good.
Both sides continued to exchange chances before the half-time whistle. Richard Wood’s slip allowed Conor Washington to cut into the box from the left hand side, he laid off Tjaronn Chery, who’s first time effort was kept out by Lewis Price.
Then Rotherham’s Anthony Forde had a long range shot which forced a good save from Alex Smithies as the ball looked to be going into the bottom corner.
QPR struggled to find their feet in the second-half and they did not cause anywhere near enough problems for Rotherham’s defence, which looked much stronger with the return of Aimen Belaid, who made his first appearance since January.
QPR’s best chance of the second-half came from a swerving free-kick from their danger man, Tjaronn Chery, but Rotherham’s ‘keeper, Lewis Price, did well once again to tip the effort over the bar.
It was clear to see which side wanted the points more and that was the home team. They were the better outfit overall and they should have extended their lead before the end.
Top-scorer, Danny Ward, hit the bar with a fierce effort from inside the area, before the ball fell to Joe Newell with the goal wide open, but he could not adjust his feet quickly enough to slot home as his effort went over the bar.
Newell had another chance not long after as he found space on the edge of the box before firing a left-footed effort at goal which was kept out by Smithies.
The game finished 1-0 as Rotherham picked up their first win in 15 games. They created a host of chances and you could not have argued if they had won by a wider margin. QPR did not perform to their best but you cannot take anything away from the home side who thoroughly deserved all three points given their spirited performance.
With this result, QPR’s disappointing form continues. They have fallen to three consecutive defeats after Ian Holloway’s first game in charge, which ended in a 2-1 victory against Norwich.
This has left them just three points clear of the drop zone and in danger of falling into a relegation fight after pre-season hopes of promotion.
This victory for Rotherham does not alter their awful state in the league, as they are 10 points away from Blackburn in 21st place. But what it does do is vastly improve the moral in the camp which would have been rock bottom given their recent form.
Paul Warne is now the caretaker manager and he is the main reason for this improved display. The ex-Rotherham player – making 261 appearances over two spells – epitomises everything that a good Rotherham United team are about.
They battled for every ball, pressed with conviction and overall, they showed more fight and deserved the win. Rotherham may not have the most talented team, but when playing like this, no other team in the Championship – in my view – can match their desire and fortitude.
They find themselves in a dire position in the league with the New Year approaching. But if the Rotherham faithful see their side putting in this same level of effort each week and still go down, there cannot be many complaints on their part.
There is an awful long way to go yet in this Championship season so you never know what could happen. Yet what we have learned from Rotherham these past few seasons is that you should never write them off.