ANALYSIS: Millers' early FA Cup exit was on the cards

THE season has been so poor, the defeats so frequent, it wasn't even a surprise.

Rotherham United's FA Cup exit to League One Oxford hardly raised an eyebrow up and down the country and certainly not among the hard-bitten regulars at the AESSEAL New York Stadium.

Even the promising cocktail of weaker opposition, home advantage and the cajoling of Paul Warne couldn't shake the players out of the losing habit. In the end the only consolation was that there were no league points on the line.

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Warne admitted feeling embarrassed when really he had nothing to chastise himself about.

Losing Izzy Brown and Greg Halford in the 24 hours before the game were blows. An injury to Brown's ready-made replacement, Peter Odemwingie, in the pre-match warm-up was another.

Ditching their familiar 4-4-1-1 for a Dexter Blackstock-flavoured 4-4-2, Rotherham had their usual peaks and they had troughs over the 90 minutes but the end result was the same.

It was ironic that Ryan Taylor, Brinsworth born and bred, should grease the slipway to defeat with a stand-out performance for the visitors.

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He was at the heart of much of their best play, earned the first-half penalty which another former Miller, Chris Maguire, had saved by Lewis Price and stabbed in the opening goal.

Warne doesn't like ranting at players but he made an exception at half time and asked them to show some fight.


When the sluggish, anonymous Blackstock limped off the pitch and down the tunnel with a tight hamstring eight minutes after the restart, a sparse crowd had just been lifted by Danny Ward's sweetly stuck equaliser, his tenth of the season atoning for a first-minute chance such a highly sought-after striker should have tucked away.

Ward warmed to it, Will Vaulks struck a post, Joe Newell probed and young substitute Jerry Yates brought the movement, awareness and go-forward that Blackstock had lacked.

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Even though Price dipped into the top drawer to claw out a Ryan Ledson effort late on, Rotherham looked the likelier until their old weaknesses resurfaced in the last ten minutes.

Defenders went AWOL to allow Phil Edwards to bury a header from six yards out and they were left looking at each again when a cutting raid down the left ended with another close-range finish for sub Kane Hemmings.


That strike meant Tom Adeyemi's placed header after smart work out wide by Yates was a mere footnote on the Millers' 20th defeat from 27, five months after they were put out of the League Cup by League Two Morecambe.