After ending 2005 on a high with a victory over Doncaster, the side travelled to Tranmere, only to be undone by yet another poor refereeing display. On the eve of the game Paolo Vernazza completed a permanent move to Barnet whilst top scorer Deon Burton signed for the oinks flowing strong transfer speculation.
Anyway, onto the game at Prenton Park. It was Tranmere who took all the points after the Millers made them fight all the way, with Shaun Barker receiving his second harsh red card of the season. Barker had put Rotherham in front in the 14th minute with an excellent shot into the top corner following a Paul McLaren free-kick. Tranmere's midfield star Danny Harrison was unlucky to hit a post in the 17th minute but the home side finally got level in first-half injury time with Chris Greenacre getting his 11th league goal of the campaign with an angled shot after his first effort was parried by Gary Montgomery. Calvin Zola made it 2-1 on 54 minutes after United failed to clear a Simon Francis centre and then Harrison made in 3-1 in the 61st minute with a good finish after Greenacre's centre had hit the bar.
Will Hoskins pulled a late goal back with a close range header after a corner was headed down by Colin Murdock but Rovers held on, despite sub Steve Davies joining Barker for an early bath. That defeat then saw the Millers clinch a home draw with Port Vale. Midfielder Michael Keane was the villain for the Millers after missing a penalty and picking up a crazy red card. The referee also took centre stage with a pair of decisions that baffled fans and players. First he gave Vale a corner after eight minutes following a linesman's flag when it was clearly a goal-kick. From the resulting corner, Michael Husbands headed in past keeper Gary Montgomery to put Vale in front.
Rotherham produced a spirited reply and might have levelled a minute later when Will Hoskins dipped an angled shot over the bar. Referee Ilderton then blew for a foul on John Mullin but Hoskins ignored the whistle and crashed in a 25-yard volley a fraction later. The goal was allowed to stand cancelling out the earlier blunder from the match officials. That's the way it finished, but Keane's penalty miss on the hour after loanee Jonathon Forte was brought down proved costly.
In a news packed following week, Jon Otsemobor left Millmoor and signed for Crewe where he'd previously been on loan, Craig Saunderson was named as RUST's new board representative to replace the outgoing Chris Dobbs and the team produced a shocking display to go down 2-0 at Bournemouth,
conceding two very early goals from which they never recovered. Further activity in the transfer window saw the club snap up midfielder Stephen Quinn and striker Paul Shaw in a double raid on neighbours Sheffield United. Both made their debuts in the Millmoor draw against Nottingham Forest. Nathan Tyson gave Forest the lead against the run of play just before half time, running through to slide the ball past Montgomery. However the Millers pressure told when Shaw cracked in a volley with his left foot high into the net with five minutes left, after the ball pinged around the goalmouth.
It seemed wherever the side went, controversy would follow them as the following Saturday saw them robbed of three massive points at relegation rivals Gilingham. In the run up to the game, the first of what turned out to be a million dates for the JCR hearing was set to resolve the transfer dispute with Southend, but the referee and his officials were the talking point for us down at the Priestfield. The lads were controversially denied their first win at Priestfield since 1988 after Keith Hill ruled that Shaun Barker's late header did not cross the line. Virtually everyone in the ground saw the ball go over the line by at least a foot except the officials.
The game began scrappily with both sides content to play long balls into each others centre-backs with the few moments of inspiration coming from Gillingham's debutant Tommy Black. The home side made two changes at half time, but it was the Millers who struck first 10 minutes into the second half as Paul Shaw's defence splitting pass saw Lee Williamson run on and drill the ball home into the far corner. However Gavin Grant was left unmarked to head in a corner and the lads had to make do with a point when Barker's header hit the post and crossed the line but Mr Hill's decision left the Millers incensed.
A tough looking February saw more mixed fortunes and plenty of birthday beer for myself! In the next review the side open up the month against Hartlepool.....