THE script was a familiar one and the outcome the same as Rotherham United finally lost their grip on the Championship.
The goal that tipped them over the edge against Fulham on Saturday was messy, just like this disaster of a season which everyone of a red and white persuasion is desperate to see the back of.
Saturday’s relegation had been coming for a long time, right back to the first forays into the transfer market of Alan Stubbs last summer, and it’s been a long and painful road to its inevitable conclusion.
Tony Stewart speaks to the Advertiser following relegation to League One
Paul Warne’s honesty in taking the blame for what has happened was matched by another honest shift from his players but, again, it wasn’t enough.
“The lads are licking their wounds in there. They know they’re relegated now and it’s a sad day for the players, the staff and everybody at the club,” he said afterwards.
The same goes for the fans, many of whom are angry at how things have slid. That didn’t show as the last rites were said at the NYS, a more subdued atmosphere forming the backdrop to Rotherham’s 30th league defeat from 39 and their eighth on the spin.
Even though they knew three points would take them into the top six, Fulham were complacent. They should have been punished early on only for Danny Ward to put a free header wide. Lee Frecklington’s curler demanded a good save from David Button but when the skipper again succumbed to injury late on, it summed up the day.
Full debut for loan man Carlton Morris
Warne was desperately looking for plusses and loan striker Carlton Morris provided some. Partnering Ward up front, the Norwich loan man showed some nice touches on his full debut and could stay on to carry the fight in League One.
Joe Newell was the brightest spark, setting up Ward’s chance and another for Jon Taylor in the second half but even though their passing game lacked their usual zip, Fulham still had enough about them to get the job done.
They were still starting to get a litte bit nervous, with Chris Martin missing a sitter early in the second half, when Sone Aluko mopped up in a 65th minute goalmouth scramble to settle the contest.
When Aimen Belaid sprayed the ball into the kop in stoppage time, plenty held their heads in their hands but it was all academic.
Rotherham are the first team in the country to be relegated and deservedly so.
It’s all about the future now, starting with that much talked about club statement on Wednesday.