The display, the disallowed goal, the reason for hope ... the story of Rotherham United 1 Leicester City 2

The Millers had an early effort controversially ruled out.
Ollie Rathbone in action for Rotherham United against Leicester City. Pictures: Jim BrailsfordOllie Rathbone in action for Rotherham United against Leicester City. Pictures: Jim Brailsford
Ollie Rathbone in action for Rotherham United against Leicester City. Pictures: Jim Brailsford

MANAGER Matt Taylor put his hands on his thighs and stayed bent in defeat, Cameron Humphreys fell to the turf, Cohen Bramall sank to his haunches.

All three were pictures of frustration on the final whistle after Rotherham United had lost so cruelly late on to the team with the 100 per cent record that had just gone top of the table.

They knew how close the Millers had come to taking a point at a packed AESSEAL New York Stadium against a Leicester City side that had been in the Premier League last season.

In defeat came huge encouragement, with misery came real hope.

Matt Taylor's men have yet to record their first league win and are only a place above the drop zone, but they will be a Championship side again next term if they continue to play like this.

"We have more than held our own against one of the best sides in the league," said Taylor. "We had a little bit of quality, which I was really pleased about. We just needed a little bit more in terms of the bench."

The bench - or the lack of one - has become a recurring theme in the opening week of the campaign and the absence of squad depth is costing the Millers dear.

It won't always be so. They are aiming to recruit in the final week of the transfer window, they have a clutch of potential first-teamers coming back from injury.

Once numbers rise so will the points total.

"I liked so much about our game today," Taylor said. "That's probably the best performance I've seen from us since I came to the club. We got weaker as the match went on. If we can add more bodies we're only going to get better."

THE MATCH

For 30 seconds New York was a red-and-white riot. The home team had taken the lead against the rich team and players and fans were marking the event accordingly.

The referee seemed happy, his assistant seemed happy, but suddenly they were consulting with each other and Cameron Humphreys' ninth-minute header on Saturday didn't stand.

Three minutes later, a Leicester throw-in wasn't defended well enough and Kasey McAteer was rising higher than Bramall at the back post to meet Kelechi Iheanacho's cross and head the visitors in front.

Yet it was the Millers who took the firmest grip. They hounded and harried when quality opposition had the ball. When they had it themselves, they drove forward in a style that matched Leicester's in its clever patterns and smooth precision.

Fred Onyedinma was far from the only person in the ground who thought he should have been awarded a penalty when he was barged by Jannik Vestergaard as he shaped to shoot in the 34th minute.

Viktor Johansson came to the rescue on the stroke of half-time, preventing Stephy Mavididi from making the most of a breakaway, but it was one of only a few times Rotherham's rearguard was breached.

"My two centre-halves (Humphreys and Tyler Blackett) were outstanding," Taylor said. That's a partnership that excelled against one of the best frontlines in the league. Wowzers, Leicester's attackers can shift and play."

After the break, the Millers were in full flow, New York in full voice. It was wonderful sight, a wonderful noise.

Andre Green headed wastefully wide at the far post but then really hit the target with a stunning 53rd-minute cross from the left that dipped and curled itself on to the head of Onyedinma whose deft flick found the corner of the net.

"It was a performance to give the players confidence, massively so," said Taylor. "I can't ask for any more from them. The results of the first four games have been the outcome of injuries and suspensions.

"I felt in control today. So many times as manager I've watched us and not felt in control. I'm not saying we dominated the contest by any means, but to feel comfortable about where the game was against a team like Leicester tells you how well we played. We had a threat about us. Can we start sustaining that for a full 100-plus minutes?"

The point the Millers deserved looked to be in the bag but on 84 minutes Bramall missed a header that allowed the ball to reach McAteer and then didn't get tight enough as the Leicester youngster cut inside to whip a wicked left-footed shot beyond Johansson.

As the clock ticked into stoppage time came Rotherham's final opportunity. Substitute Tom Eaves, without a goal since his arrival a year ago, had time and space in front of the North Stand and a header with the appropriate direction would have brought a draw.

He couldn't, could he?

No, he couldn't.

THAT 'GOAL'

"It was disallowed for two reasons: offside and a foul on the goalkeeper."

Taylor, with the benefit of having spoken to referee Simon Hooper, was doing his best to clear up the great mystery of the day.

Cafu had swung over a corner, Humphreys had headed it towards goal and Jordan Hugill had claimed (wrongly, said his manager) that he had got a touch just before the ball crossed the line.

Christ Tiehi makes his first home appearance

Dexter Lembikisa certainly put hands on the keeper. Whether he was offside while doing so was more open to debate. Taylor confirmed that the offside ruling didn't involve Hugill.

"Both were marginal verdicts," said the manager. "If that's a foul then a lot of fouls are going to be given at set-pieces.

"The pain for us is that we were celebrating for a period of time and the officials' communications weren't working. That's why it took a little bit longer to make the decision."

Two questions remain. If it was a foul, why didn't the referee blow his whistle immediately? If it was offside, why didn't his assistant raise a flag at the time?

It was the sole sour note on a heartening day.

The Foxes have spent £35 million on transfers over the summer and banked more than double that in sales. Rotherham had record signing Christ Tiehi - all £400,000 to £500,000 of him - making his home debut.

Two sides so far apart in finances but not on the pitch.

Wowzers, Millers.

Rotherham (4-3-3): Viktor Johansson; Dexter Lembikisa, Cameron Humphreys, Tyler Blackett, Cohen Bramall; Cafu, Christ Tiehi (Josh Kayode 81), Ollie Rathbone (Ciaran McGuckin 87); Fred Onyedinma, Jordan Hugill (Tom Eaves 72), Andre Green (Arvin Appiah 72). Subs not used: Dillon Phillips, Sean Morrison, Jamie McCart, Hamish Douglas, Tolaji Bola.

Leicester (4-3-3): Mads Hermansen; Ricardo Pereira, Wout Faes, Jannik Vestergaard, Callum Doyle; Wilfred Ndidi (Cesare Casedei 68), Harry Winks, Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall (Hamza Choudhury 87); Kasey McAteer (James Austin 87), Kelechi Iheanacho (Jamie Vardy 59), Stephy Mavididi. Subs not used: Danny Ward, Jakub Stolarczyk, Marc Albrighton, Timothy Castagne, Luke Thomas.

Goals: McAteer 12, 84 (Leicester); Onyedinma 53 (Rotherham).

Referee: Simon Hooper (Wiltshire).

Attendance: 11,418 (2,226).