Tom Eaves strikes late for the Millers ... on-the-whistle report: Blackburn Rovers 2 Rotherham United 2

TOM Eaves was Rotherham United's away-day hero as battling Rotherham United entered the new year in the same kind of defiant form in which they ended 2023.

The striker who couldn't buy a goal for the first 18 months after his Millers arrival struck for the second time in his last three outings on the road to salvage a precious point for his side.

He ran to the delirious Rotherham fans as his diving header levelled the scores in Lancashire in the 82nd minute.

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Rotherham remain at the foot of the Championship but they have now won one and drawn two of their three most recent matches under new head coach Leam Richardson and have narrowed the gap to safety to seven points.

Tom Eaves breaks forward for Rotherham United in the first half at Blackburn Rovers. Picture: Jim BrailsfordTom Eaves breaks forward for Rotherham United in the first half at Blackburn Rovers. Picture: Jim Brailsford
Tom Eaves breaks forward for Rotherham United in the first half at Blackburn Rovers. Picture: Jim Brailsford

Blackburn were the superior side yet the Millers dug in, fought for their lives and got their reward.

Rotherham were a goal down after only eight minutes when weak defending from Dexter Lembikisa gave Arnor Sigurdsson the chance to steer in the ball from around six yards.

It needed a flying intervention from Viktor Johansson to prevent the home side doubling their advantage soon afterwards, the Swede tipping away Harry Pickering's 20-yard shot for a corner.

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The Millers' first attempt on target came in the 20th minute when Eaves' header from Sean Morrison's long throw-in gave Leo Whalstedt a comfortable save

Morrison produced a stunning double block seconds later to foil Sigurdsson and Semir Telalovic.

Ewood Park was familiar territory to Richardson who began his playing career with Rovers back in 1999.

Rotherham's boss wasn't enjoying his return as his former employers dominated the opening stages.

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It needed another sharp stop from the diving Johansson to beat away Callum Brittain's drive from an angle on the right.

The Millers had made only brief forays into the Blackburn half but they found themselves level on the half-hour mark when Morrison headed home a corner from Sam Clucas.Yet more excellence from Johansson, who was down like lightning to parry Szmodics' shot, kept the scores level.

Midfield man Ollie Rathbone had come straight back into the side after missing last Friday's 1-1 home draw with Sunderland through illness.

He was playing against his hometown club and came agonisingly close to give the visitors the lead as he hit the bar with a superb strike from distance on the stroke of half-time.

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With Rathbone starting, Jamie Lindsay, after some sterling performances since his return from a long-term injury, was given a break on the bench.

Up front, Eaves was making a rare start in place of Jordan Hugill who was one of only seven substitutes as the Millers continued to do battle without eight injured potential first-teamers.

Only 33 seconds of the second half had elapsed when Rotherham fell behind again. Hakeem Odoffin just failed to cut out James Hill's through ball and the division's top scorer, Szmodics, rounded Johansson to clip in his 16th goal of the campaign.

Morrison nodded Clucas's free-kick over the bar on 58 minutes and Eaves was somehow too high with his point-blank attempt from Sam Nombe's low cross as the Millers tried to respond but it was Rovers who continued to hold the upper hand.

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Johansson thwarted Szmodics again as Rovers dominated possession and then came Eaves' big moment as he buried Seb Revan's cross.

His celebration was the highlight of the afternoon.

The travelling supporters summed it up: "Eeeaaavvveesss!"

Blackburn (4-4-2): Leo Wahlstedt; Callum Brittain, James Hill, Hayden Carter, Harry Pickering; Andrew Moran (Dilan Markanday 64), Adam Wharton, Sondre Tronstad, Arnor Sigurdsson; Sammie Szmodics, Semir Telalovic (Niall Ennis 64). Subs not used: Joe Hilton, Patrick Gamble, Harry Leonard, Zak Gilsenan, Lewis Travis, Charlie Weston, Jake Garrett.

Rotherham (3-5-2): Viktor Johansson; Hakeem Odoffin, Sean Morrison, Seb Revan; Dexter Lembikisa (Arvin Appiah 78), Ollie Rathbone (Cafu 78), Christ Tiehi, Sam Clucas (Jamie Lindsay 67), Cohen Bramall; Sam Nombe (Jordan Hugill 67), Tom Eaves (Georgie Kelly 90). Subs not used: Dillon Phillips, Ciaran McGuckin.

Goals: Sigurdsson 8, Szmodics 46 (Blackburn); Morrison 31, Eaves 82 (Rotherham).

Referee: Jarred Gillett (Merseyside).

Attendance: 13,054 (550).