The dodgy scoreboard, the away pain and the end of Wayne Carlisle's hopes ... the story of Hull City 4 Rotherham United 1

EVEN the scoreboard couldn't believe it.
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Somehow, Rotherham United had managed to grab a goal during the latest episode of the horror series on the road that has become their Championship campaign.

The digital screen at Hull City's MKM Stadium flicked up from 4-0 to 6-0 in favour of the home side before settling down on the correct margin of Millers misery.

It was a still-horrible 4-1 state of affairs. Wayne Carlisle's men weren't back in the game. They were never in the game.

Jordan Hugill in possession for Rotherham United in the Millers' Championship defeat at Hull City. Picture: Jim BrailsfordJordan Hugill in possession for Rotherham United in the Millers' Championship defeat at Hull City. Picture: Jim Brailsford
Jordan Hugill in possession for Rotherham United in the Millers' Championship defeat at Hull City. Picture: Jim Brailsford

It took five minutes for the interim manager's chances of being given the job on a permanent basis to take a hit, only a further four for them to be fatally damaged.

By then abject defending from the visitors had gifted Hull two goals and a third strike on 20 minutes for the Tigers had some travelling fans heading back to South Yorkshire for an early night.

“This league is a tough league,” said Carlisle after the latest setback had dropped his side one place in the table to 23rd. “It will inflict enough pain on you if you let it.

“Unfortunately, tonight we inflicted some pain on ourselves, and it seems to be a habit at the minute. It's got to stop, it's got to improve.”

With the contest yet to settle, Grant Hall, returning from a hip injury, sold goalkeeper Viktor Johansson short with the kind of under-cooked back-pass a player with no recent game-time delivers and the outcome, after the goalkeeper had managed to foil Liam Delap, was a tap-in for Tyler Morton.

Soon afterwards, Sean Morrison and Dexter Lembikisa were as culpable as each other as the ball was allowed to reach Jaden Philogene at the back post. The back-heeled finish was a lovely piece of improvisation but one the game's best player should never have been allowed to execute.

Then Johansson’s save from Delap's fierce shot fell into the path of Scott Twine for tap-in number two.

“We started poorly,” Carlisle said. “The first goal is a really poor one. We hold up our hands on that. We understand mistakes happen but that early in the game it puts you right on the back foot.

“The two goals after that, the most disappointing thing for myself is we'd highlighted that in our match prep. We had a plan for it and, for whatever reason, it just didn't happen.

“It's Grant's first game in a while and then Sean's playing on the back of 90 minutes on Friday night (1-1 home draw with Leeds United). There may have been a bit of tiredness in there.

“But there's more than two people in the team. There's a whole team out there. If they win together, they've got to lose together as well.”

For some players, being behind didn't seem to hurt enough.

The caretaker boss had been brave in his selection, going for two up front where he gave Georgie Kelly a first league start this term alongside Jordan Hugill. It was bold, maybe too bold, and it didn't work as Hull starved the Millers of possession.

“Those two didn't have much service,” he said. “At some times in the first half we did get in good areas and deliver into the box but the quality wasn't good enough. The set-pieces were similar. When we had the ball we gave it away too cheaply. Teams like Hull will punish you.”

City were as strong as Rotherham were weak and should contend for a play-off berth. They needed only three minutes of the second period to extend their advantage as Philogene struck again, this time from eight yards.

Hall headed in for the Millers just before the hour-mark after Ollie Rathbone's left-flank cross had been nodded into his orbit by Morrison but it needed more interventions from Johansson at the other end to keep the score down.

As ever, the visitors were affected by injury and Fred Onyedinma didn't even make it beyond the warm-up, giving up his place to Seb Revan when his hamstring tightened up.

Others had to start on the bench, unable to play a consistent part in the relentless fixture schedule of the second tier because of the condition of their bodies.

Tuesday's reverse made it eight losses and one draw in nine outings on opposition soil since opening day.

“It's definitely a thing,” said Carlisle of the travel sickness. “Everyone is talking about it. It's hard with the squad we've got at the minute.

“I don't want to make excuses but it's difficult for them in a three-game week where they've got to go again. The energy you get from the players at home, it's there for all to see. To repeat that a few days later (away from home) is really where the challenge lies.”

He put a positive spin on his time in charge which is no doubt coming to an end.

“I've really enjoyed it,” he said. “It's been a great experience for me. The players are fantastic. I've said to them, I was happy to stand and take a pat on the back with them on Friday. I'm happy to take a slap in the chops for them tonight.

“I love them to pieces. They're fantastic workers. Whatever happens, I'll always be proud of the effort. I can't fault their effort tonight.”

He was being generous to one to two.

There had been great mirth among home supporters when the over-expectant scoreboard had suddenly added two ghost goals to the Tigers' tally.

For Rotherham, with their form on the road so woeful and their survival prospects turning ever bleaker, there was absolutely nothing to laugh about.

Hull (4-2-3-1): Ryan Allsop; Cyrus Christie (Sean McLoughlin 73), Alfie Jones, Jacob Greaves, Lewie Coyle; Tyler Morton (Regan Slater 83), Jean Michael Seri (Adama Traore 63); Jason Lokilo, Scott Twine, Jaden Philogene (Ozan Tufan 63); Liam Delap (Aaron Connolly 73). Subs not used: Matt Ingram, GregDocherty, Harry Vaughan, Andy Smith.

Rotherham (4-4-2): Viktor Johansson; Dexter Lembikisa, Grant Hall (Lee Peltier 67), Sean Morrison, Cohen Bramall (Arvin Appiah 54); Ollie Rathbone, Christ Tiehi, Hakeem Odoffin (Jamie Lindsay 67), Seb Revan; Jordan Hugill (Tom Eaves 67), Georgie Kelly (Sam Nombe 77). Subs not used: Dillon Phillips, Daniel Ayala, Ciaran McGuckin.

Goals: Morton 5, Philogene 9, 48, Twine 20 (Hull); Hall 59 (Rotherham).

Referee: Rebecca Welch (Tyne and Wear).

Attendance: 18,766 (559).