Defeat and disgust as fans turn on Millers player ... The story of Rotherham United 2 Brentford 4
FOURTH official Matt Donohue held up the board showing number '2' little realising the reaction he was about to provoke.
Right-back Zak Vyner was being substituted in the 77th minute as Rotherham United tried to find a way back into the game against Brentford at AESSEAL New York Stadium.
The young defender, on loan for the season from Bristol City and the first player some fans target for criticism, endured ironic cheers and a bit of booing as he left the pitch.
Afterwards, Paul Warne spoke for 10 minutes and answered 11 questions as he dissected a 4-2 Championship defeat that left his side still two points above the relegation places, but it all came down to one word.
"I don't understand it," the Millers manager said. "Fans possibly see games differently to me.
"I didn't take him off because he was having a stinker in my eyes. I took him off because I went three at the back. I've done that loads of times this season.
"I thought Zak put loads of balls in and did well. He's been great for us and I don't think any player should be singled out for abuse.
In the time taken to say 'The comeback is on' the comeback was over.
For the second time in the match, injury-hit Rotherham had forced an equaliser and, with 17 minutes left and Warne's men attacking the North Stand, one of their famous New York finishes looked on the cards.
But Brentford, slick, quick, unbeaten in their previous six outings and looking nothing like a side that hadn't won away from home all season, regained the lead immediately before Neal Maupay, the striker with a £25 million price tag, wrapped up the points with five minutes remaining.
"At 2-2, I thought we would go on and win it," Warne said. "Maybe I have been spoilt here at New York.
"For them to score so quickly after our second goal was a bitter pill to swallow. We had enough chances to win a football match, but in the last 15 minutes we looked a little bit at sea."
The Bees led after only two minutes when Kamohelo Mokotjo tucked in Said Benrahma's cross but the Millers responded well and Jon Taylor lashed in a 20th-minute leveller with a stunning 18-yard half-volley.
Jon Taylor and Zak Vyner celebrate the Millers' first goal
Clark Robertson's 37th-minute header forced a point-blank save from Daniel Bentley and only Semi Ajayi will know how he managed to steer the rebound wide of a gaping goal.
Benrahma steered in the Bee's second goal in the 52nd minute, Rotherham new boy midfielder Matt Crooks came on for an encouraging cameo, Robertson's 73rd-minute header deflected in off Bees defender Ezri Konsa and Mokotjo struck again seconds later.
Then Zak took the flak.
"It's disappointing for me," Warne said. "It summed it up when Zak came off that all the coaches went to thank him for his efforts. You could see Will Vaulks clapping him and saying: 'Zak, well done.'
"He put loads of crosses in. He's brave enough to put crosses in. Joe Mattock put in a cross in the first half that went out the back. I mean, so what? Just get on it again and put another cross in."
Maupay had spurned two inviting chances and a player of his quality doesn't miss three. His finish ended the contest in the 85th minute, confirming the Bees' second victory over Rotherham this term after their 5-1 triumph on opening day.
"Brentford are a very good side," Warne said. "They have given us a couple of soccer lessons this season.
"Everyone in football knows the challenge we have but we've taken it on every week with a smile on our face and tried to be the best we can be.
Matt Crooks makes his debut
"We speak to all the managers after games and they appreciate that the gulf between League One and this division is a massive one.
"Realistically, my team is virtually the same as the one that won promotion last season. And the lads finished fourth in League One, they didn't romp it.
"Although we lost 4-2 today, it was a much better game than back in August when we had our butts given to us on a tray. I feel that we've come on. The lads have a much better understanding of this league and how we play."
Robertson articulated the aspiration while Brentford boss Thomas was Frank about the fight.
"Our goal this season is to stay in the Championship," the Millers man acknowledged.
The Bees manager said: "I want to compliment Paul Warne and Rotherham. They do absolutely brilliantly in a division where there are 19 former Premier League clubs and they have one of the lowest budgets.
Paul Warne with rival boss Thomas Frank
"They do everything they can. In spells they made it very difficult for us. They are competing. I really like that story and I really wish they can stay up."
The Vyner incident, meanwhile, soured an already-disappointing day.
Robertson said: " It was a bit surprising. I think Zak was solid enough and did not really do much wrong. He is a great lad and he is improving all the time."
Supporters, of course, are entitled to vent their spleen. But there are times and places, ways and means.
There's a big difference between booing an imposter like Dexter Blackstock and jeering a 21-year-old, whatever his perceived limitations, who is giving his all.
Those who scoffed mocked the player and also the motto of the club they follow: Forever Together.
Rotherham United (4-4-1-1): Marek Rodak; Zak Vyner, Semi Ajayi, Clark Robertson, Joe Mattock; Anthony Forde, Will Vaulks, Richie Towell, Jon Taylor; Ben Wiles, Michael Smith. Unused: Lewis Price, Billy Jones, Sean Raggett, Richard Wood.
Subs: Matt Crooks (for Wiles, 59 minutes), Jerry Yates (for Vyner, 77), Vassell (for Forde, 86).
Brentford (3-4-3): Daniel Bentley; Ezri Konsa, Julian Jeanvier, Yoann Barbet; Henrik Dalsgaard, Romaine Sawyers, Kamohelo Mokotjo, Rico Henry; Ollie Watkins, Neal Maupay, Said Benrahma. Unused: Luke Daniels, Moses Odubajo, Josh McEachran, Mads Bech Sorensen.
Subs: Sergi Canos (for Benrahma, 76), Chiedozie Ogbene (for Watkins, 88), Josh Dasilva (for Mokotjo, 88).
Goals: Taylor 20, Robertson 73 (Rotherham); Mokotjo 2, 75, Benrahma 52, Maupay 85 (Brentford).
Referee: Tony Harrington (Cleveland).
Attendance: 8,319 (606).