On-the-whistle report: Rotherham United 1 Middlesbrough 2

The red-card aftermath. Picture by Kerrie BeddowsThe red-card aftermath. Picture by Kerrie Beddows
The red-card aftermath. Picture by Kerrie Beddows
A HORROR show from a referee who had already blighted Rotherham United's survival campaign earlier in the season tonight piled the Championship relegation pressure on the Millers.

The home side were leading Middlesbrough 1-0 at AESSEAL New York Stadium when Darren Bond wrongly sent off Matt Crooks, leaving the home side to play for more than 70 minutes with ten men.

Bond was the official who red-carded Michael Smith at Sheffield Wednesday in March, a dismissal that was later rescinded, and he was at it again in the 19th minute of a clash third-bottom Rotherham needed to win to revive their safety hopes.

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Crooks clearly had his eyes on only the ball in an aerial challenge with Grant Hall but that didn't stop the official instantly producing a straight red.

Boro, with their extra man, went on to claim the spoils, leaving the Millers to suffer their third straight loss and remain four points behind nearest rivals Derby County with two games in hand.

Rotherham got off to a dream start and took the lead after only three minutes.

Joe Mattock, making his first appearance in four months, swung over a corner and Angus MacDonald was at the back post to open his account in a Millers shirt.

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Three minutes later, Paul Warne's side feared the visitors had a leveller when Duncan Watmore took the ball from Viktor Johansson's hands and rolled the ball into the net but referee Darren Bond blew for a foul on the goalkeeper.

On 12 minutes there was another let-off for Rotherham when Chuba Akpom headed Yannick Bolasie's cross wide and they were in trouble again soon after when Angus MacDonald had to clear an Akpom shot off the line and Bolasie directed the loose ball over.

The Millers responded with Freddie Ladapo cutting in from the right and shooting wide and Michael Ihiekwe heading off target before Bond altered the course of the contest - and possibly Rotherham's season - with his terrible blunder .

It looked as poor as the decision at Hillsborough and the Millers will surely launch an appeal.

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Rotherham paid the price within 14 minutes as George Saville lifted the ball high into the net following good work down the left by Neeksens Kebano

The ten men were under  fire and Jonny Howson hit the bar before Johansson saved from Connor Malley as half-time approached.

Manager Warne had made four changes to the team beaten 1-0 by Birmingham City on Sunday, bringing in Kieran Sadlier at right wing-back and giving Mattock his first taste of action since December ankle surgery on the other flank.

Ben Wiles and Dan Barlaser returned in midfield as loanee Lewis Wing missed out against his parent club and Shaun MacDonald was absent through injury.

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Clark Robertson was sidelined by a tight achilles while captain Richard Wood was named on the bench.

Rotherham's lack of numbers was showing from the restart and they fell behind on 54 minutes as Paddy McNair crossed low and Akpom applied the finish.

Just past the hour mark, Howson hit the bar with a header and the final whistle seemed a long way away for the Millers.

To their credit, they threatened an equaliser but Ladapo could only stab his effort wide of the post

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Kebano forced a good save from Johansson and then Ladapo put a difficult opportunity over the bar as time started to run out.

Rotherham never stopped trying and made attacking substitutions as a last throw of the dice but the game was beyond them.

Bond had seen to that.

Goals: A MacDonald 3 (Rotherham), Saville 33, Akpom 54 (Middlesbrough).

Red card: Matt Crooks 19 (Rotherham).

Rotherham (3-5-2): Viktor Johansson; Wes Harding (Ryan Giles 76), Michael Ihiekwe, Angus MacDonald; Kieran Sadlier (Chiedozie Ogbene 71), Dan Barlaser (Jamie Lindsay H-T), Matt Crooks, Ben Wiles, Joe Mattock (Matt Olosunde H-T); Freddie Ladapo, Michael Smith (George Hirst 82). Subs not used: Jamal Blackman, Matt Olosunde, Richard Wood, Trevor Clarke, Florian Jozefzoon.

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Middlesbrough (3-4-3): Jordan Archer; Paddy McNair, Grant Hall (Connor Malley 24), Marc Bola; Neeskens Kebano, Jonny Howson, George Saville, Marvin Johnson; Chuba Akpom, Duncan Watmore, Yannick Bolasie (Josh Coburn 87). Subs not used: Marcus Bettinelli, Hayden Hackney, Williams Kokolo, Jack Robinson.

Referee: Darren Bond (Lancashire).