The Football League Paper - - CHAMPIONSHIP - By John Brind­ley

FU­RI­OUS Steve Evans blasted ev­ery­one from ref­eree Dean White­stone to the BBC as Rother­ham lurched to within four points of the drop zone.

Matt Der­byshire replied to first-half goals from Robert Tesche and Clay­ton Don­ald­son but it was an­other in­ci­dent in­volv­ing the Millers striker that the out­raged boss high­lighted.

“It was the worst ref­er­ee­ing de­ci­sion I’ve ever seen,” he said, of the non-award of a spot-kick when Der­byshire clashed with de­fender Rob Kier­nan near the hour. “You might as well get a 12year-old who has blue blood in his veins to come and ref­eree.

“Gary Rowett agreed with me and they know it could have been a red card as well.

“We’ll ques­tion the ref­eree but get the usual non­sense in re­ply.

“They don’t want Rother­ham to win here – that’s what we’ve been up against all sea­son.

“I hope the BBC high­lights this – they don’t want us in this di­vi­sion ei­ther.

“We were dis­jointed in the first half and I re­minded a few peo­ple how much this means at the break.We tore them apart in the sec­ond half but didn’t get any­thing.”

Rother­ham be­gan the af­ter­noon with neat pass­ing foot­ball although the half-chances fell Birm­ing­ham’s way with Craig Mor­gan block­ing a Dave Cot­ter­ill shot and Damian Martinez par­ry­ing a 25-yarder from the same player.

Al­ready look­ing the side with more gen­uine at­tack­ing ideas, the Blues took com­plete first-half com­mand af­ter edg­ing ahead in the 27th minute.

A poor de­fen­sive header from Danny Laf­ferty put the Millers in trou­ble and Don­ald­son’s neat lay-off was tucked into the bot­tom cor­ner with­out fuss by Tesche.

An­drew Shin­nie nod­ded Cot­ter­ill’s cross over the bar be­fore the near in­evitable sec­ond goal ar­rived close to the break. Cot­ter­ill’s 30yard free-kick was fiercely hit but Martinez was at fault in par­ry­ing his ef­fort straight onto the head of Don­ald­son.

The Millers looked more pur­pose­ful on the re­sump­tion and got a quick goal back when Dar­ren Ran­dolph and Jonathan Grounds strug­gled to deal with Lee Freck­ling­ton’s surge into the box and Der­byshire tapped in.

The penalty in­ci­dent looked far less clear cut than Evans’ claim with the ball bounc­ing off Der­byshire and into the arms of Ran­dolph.

Full-back Jack Hunt all but wrig­gled through and Der­byshire sent a danger­ous far post header inches off tar­get be­fore the Blues be­gan to ride the storm.

They al­ways had the game’s chief threat in Don­ald­son, who linked up the at­tack­ing play well and was twice close to adding to his tally in the sec­ond half.

A third Blues goal was more likely than an equaliser as Rother­ham threw more and more men for­ward.

Don­ald­son carved out two clear-cut chances in in­jury time, but Martinez partly made up for his gaffe with two ex­cel­lent oneon-one saves from Tesche.

Blues boss Gary Rowett didn’t share Evans’ view of the penalty in­ci­dent although he did have some sym­pa­thy with the op­pos­ing manager.

“I’ve watched it back three or four times and I don’t think it was a penalty,” he said. “There’s a tan­gle of legs and no clear foul as far as I’m con­cerned although I can un­der­stand Steve’s view. He’s a pas­sion­ate man and I’d prob­a­bly be say­ing the same thing if I was in his shoes.

“The last half-hour of the first half was as good as we’ve played since I’ve been here.

“The play­ers should be proud of how we’ve turned it around at home. It was one win in 26 when I took over, now we’ve won seven, drawn four and lost two.

“We’re not fin­ished yet. I’d love to see us make it ten wins by the end of the sea­son.”

PIC­TURES: Ac­tion Images

TAKE A BOW: Clay­ton Don­ald­son cel­e­brates his goal, which turned out to be the win­ner Inset: Matt Der­byshire scores

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