NEVER-SAY-DIE Rotherham United produced an heroic comeback at Stoke City to keep their hopes of Championship survival alive.
The Millers trailed by two goals at the interval but stunned the home side with the ferocity of their second-half response.
Fighting for their lives, they scored through Michael Smith and substitute Matt Crooks and almost went on to win the game.
Crooks could have had a hat-trick in the closing stages as the visitors were roared on by a vociferous away following.
In the end, they had to settle for a point and remain third from bottom of the table with four matches to go.
The first chance fell to Rotherham as Anthony Forde worked his way into the penalty area in the ninth minute to shoot across goal and narrowly wide.
Jon Taylor was also off target, sending his effort over the bar from the edge of the box after 23 minutes
Stoke had been nervy and sluggish, to the frustration of the home crowd, but they turned the contest on its head with a two-goal burst towards the half-hour mark.
Ashley Williams crossed from the right and Sam Vokes found himself unmarked as he despatched a simple 27th-minute header.
Two minutes later, the danger came from the other flank. The Millers failed to clear James McClean's low delivery into the box and Sam Clucas lifted the loose ball into the roof of the net.
Taylor had a shot saved at the near post as the visitors tried to find a way back, but it required a flying 40th-minute stop from Marek Rodak at the other end to prevent Vokes increasing Stoke's advantage with a shot from the edge of the area.
After the break, it was a different story.
Clark Robertson was close to pulling back a goal in the 54th minute, his pinpoint header requiring an England-quality save from international Jack Butland to keep it out.
Four minutes later, the Millers were back in it, reducing the arrears when Smith got his head to Forde's corner.
And they were level with 15 minutes to go as Will Vaulks hurled in a trademark long thow, Semi Ajayi headed down and substitute Crooks applied the close-range finish.
Every chance seemed to fall to Crooks and he came agonisingly close to putting the Millers ahead three minutes later, his bobbling shot forcing a goalline clearance from Ryan Shawcross.
The Millers were pushing desperately for a winner and Crooks headed over fellow sub Joe Newell's corner before bringing a world-class save out of Butland with a thumping shot on 83 minutes.
Rotherham couldn't quite take all three points but no team is giving more of themselves in the battle for safety.
Stoke (4-4-1-1): Jack Butland; Ashley Williams, Ryan Shawcross, Danny Baath, Bruno Martins Indi; James McLean, Peter Etebo, Joe Allen, Sam Clucas; Bojan; Sam Vokes. Unused: Adam Federici, Moritz Bauer, Mame Diouf, Ryan Woods.
Subs: Benik Afobe (for Bojan, 62), Charlie Adam (for Vokes, 87), Thibaud Verlinden (for Martins Indi, 87).
Rotherham (4-1-4-1): Marek Rodak; Zak Vyner, Michael Ihiekwe, Clark Robertson, Joe Mattock; Semi Ajayi; Jon Taylor, Will Vaulks, Richie Towell, Anthony Forde; Michael Smith. Unused: Lewis Price, Richard Wood, Ben Wiles, Kyle Vassell.
Subs: Matt Crooks (for Towell, 58), Ryan Williams (for Taylor, 68), Joe Newell (for Forde, 68).
Goals: Vokes 27, Clucas 29 (Stoke); Smith 58, Crooks 75 (Rotherham).
Referee: Andy Woolmer (Northamptonshire).
Attendance: 24,250 (821).
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