THERE was little sign of an end to Rotherham United’s barren away run as they were sunk by a Lukas Jutkiewicz hat-trick at Birmingham City.
The striker’s treble sentenced the Millers to a 3-1 defeat, their sixth in six away games since returning to the Championship.
Jon Taylor’s late reply, the team’s first since Will Vaulks’ effort at Brentford on the opening day, did briefly raise hopes of a comeback but it never really looked on. The fact Birmingham, held back by too many draws this term, didn’t have to play particularly well to win only added to the frustration.
The Millers were unchanged from the game with Bristol City but their sloppy early play contrasted sharply to their solid defensive efforts in that encounter.
Birmingham took the lead in the 20th minute courtesy of a mistake from Marek Rodak. Jota played a corner deep and Jutkiewicz’s header from an acute angle looked fairly tame only to somehow squeeze past the Slovakian stopper at his near post.
The visitors had only just re-grouped when they conceded again three minutes later. The home side worked an opportunity for Gary Gardner which Rodak could only parry, Jutkiewicz was on hand to tap in his second from close range.
Without a Championship away win in such a long time, the goals left Rotherham having to chase the game and although they saw plenty of the ball up to half time, clear chances were rare. Ryan Williams placed a shot into the arms of a grateful Lee Camp from just inside the box and the former Millers stopper turned over a dipping effort from Ryan Manning.
Birmingham didn’t have to play well to lead and once they did they seemed to content to sit on it until adding a third on 68 minutes.
They won a free-kick on the edge of the box and the ball was teed up for Jutkiewicz to fire hard and low into the bottom corner.
Rotherham’s long wait for a Championship goal was ended on 77 minutes when Taylor applied a neat touch to substitute Kyle Vassell’s low ball in. It was met with chants of “we scored a goal” from the away end.
Birmingham briefly wobbled and it took a good block to deny Taylor a second. Rotherham pressed in the closing stages but were often suffocated by blue shirts as their run without a second-tier away win stretched to 31 matches.
They will now look to re-group during the international break and get players fit for the next match against Bolton in a fortnight’s time.
Birmingham: Camp, Pederson, Morrison (Roberts 75), Dean, Colin, Gardner, Kieftenbeld, Jota, Maghoma (Mahoney 73), Jutkiewicz, Adams
Millers: Rodak; Jones, Ajayi, Vaulks, Mattock; Taylor, Palmer (Vyner 88), Manning (Wiles 63), Newell (Vassell 54), Williams; Smith
Referee: Keith Stroud
Attendance: 19,795 (759 vistors)
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