Another promotion blow as Millers' woe worsens ... on-the-whistle report: Portsmouth 3 Rotherham United 0

Chiedozie Ogbene in first-half action. Picture by Jim BrailsfordChiedozie Ogbene in first-half action. Picture by Jim Brailsford
Chiedozie Ogbene in first-half action. Picture by Jim Brailsford
ROTHERHAM United's hopes of Championship football next season took another hit as their run-in to the League One season went from bad to worse at Portsmouth tonight.

The Millers crashed to a 3-0 defeat and their third successive loss and could have no complaints about the margin of Pompey's victory.

They remain in third spot after one win in seven outings but will be looking over their shoulders at the chasing pack rather than towards the top two if they continue in their present dismal form.

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The days when they led the division and were 13 points clear in the race for automatic promotion seem a long time ago.

Salt was rubbed into their wounds by the fact that a major figure in their demise at Fratton Park was their loan old boy, George Hirst.

The striker failed to score in 32 games for them last term but set up one and scored another as Danny Cowley's men eased away in the second half.

The game's first opening fell to Rotherham but Michael Ihiekwe's sixth-minute header from Dan Barlaser's free-kick was too tame to give home goalkeeper Gavin Bazuna any problems.

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On 20 minutes it took a sharp save from Viktor Johansson to prevent the Millers conceding an away goal before the break for the first time this season as he denied Marcus Harness when the Pompey man tried to turn in Ronan Curtis's low cross.

On warm night in Hampshire, there was little to choose between the two teams in the opening half an hour.

Things changed in the 35th minute when 11th-placed Portsmouth's Clark Robertson scored against his old club, heading home after being picked out at the back post by Wayne Jacobs' free-kick.

It was the first time this season that Rotherham have conceded before the break in a league away match.

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A quick equaliser wasn't too far away as Jordi Osei-Tutu burst down the left and crossed only for Josh Kayode's clever touch to drift wide.

As half-time approached, Chiedozie Ogbene cut in from the left and fired a dipping shot on to the roof of the net.

However, by the interval Bazuna hadn't been seriously tested and the visitors knew they would have to up their attacking game in the second period.

They were enjoying their fair share of possession but, as in previous recent matches, were struggling to create clear-cut opportunities.

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Manager Paul Warne had made four changes to the side that started the 1-0 home defeat against Charlton Athletic at the weekend.

Striker Freddie Ladapo, Ollie Rathbone, Wes Harding and Shane Ferguson dropped to the bench as Kayode, Osei-Tutu, Jamie Lindsay and Joe Mattock came into the team.

Hirst was showing his Rotherham standards when he lifted the ball high over the bar soon after the restart.

He did much better just before the hour mark, firing in a cross from the right that Marcus Harness steered home to double the Millers’deficit.

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And, after Johansson had pulled off  flying save from Hayden Carter, he got himself on the scoresheet by turning the ball into an empty net.

All Rotherham had in response on a terrible evening was a Lindsay effort over the bar.

By the end, Bazuna still hadn’t been tested.

Automatic promotion, which once seemed a certainty, is looking more and more unlikely.

Portsmouth (4-2-3-1): Gavin Bazuna; Hayden Carter, Sean Raggett, Clark Robertson, Connor Ogilvie; Joe Morrell, Louis Thompson (Shaun Williams 75); Marcus Harness (Mahlon Romeo 75), Ronan Curtis, Michael Jacobs (Aiden O'Brien 69); George Hirst. Subs not used: Ollie Webber, Ryan Tunnicliffe, Jay Mingi, Tyler Walker.

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Rotherham (3-5-2): Viktor Johansson; Michael Ihiekwe, Richard Wood, Joe Mattock; Chiedozie Ogbene, Jamie Lindsay, Dan Barlaser, Ben Wiles (Ollie Rathbone H-T), Jordi Osei-Tutu (Mickel Miller 84); Josh Kayode (Freddie Ladapo 57), Michael Smith. Subs not used: Josh Chapman, Rarmani Edmonds-Green, Wes Harding, Shane Ferguson.

Goals: Robertson 35, Harness 59, Hirst 65 (Portsmouth).

Referee: David Rock (Hertfordshire).

Attendance: 14,451 (301).