Birmingham interim manager Gary Rowett was left frustrated after his side were held to a 0-0 draw at Rotherham.

The result edged the Blues two points clear of the Championship relegation zone but it was a missed opportunity to move closer to safety against the already-relegated Rotherham.

Steve Evans was back in the home dugout following his shock midweek return following the sacking of Leam Richardson and he will have been pleased with the spirited display which kicked off his second stint as Millers’ boss.

Play was stopped for more than half an hour after nine minutes of the first period when referee Keith Stroud was alerted to a medical emergency in the home stand, with the supporter being taken to hospital after receiving treatment.

The game lacked quality following the restart but burst into life in the closing stages, with Birmingham’s Jay Stansfield having an effort ruled out for offside.

Rowett said: “It was an attritional game. The way that Rotherham are going to be set up, you know they’re going to be very direct and play for second balls and make it difficult to get out.

“I thought it was difficult to find any rhythm. It was a tough game.

“The first half was a non-event. Second half was a little bit better, we just needed those moments of quality to open the game up. Sometimes we did that without finding an end to it and sometimes we lacked composure.”

On Stansfield’s disallowed goal, Rowett added: “There is a player in or around the goalkeeper. There is about 15 but one is in an offside position. I don’t think he saves it anyway. It does not impact the keeper’s vision. He hits it so hard and low and wide of the keeper that he isn’t going to save it.”

Birmingham lead third-bottom Huddersfield by two points and they travel to face the Terriers next weekend.

“I don’t think you can get any bigger at this stage of the season,” Rowett added.

“Every game is massive and every game is one where you don’t want to waste an opportunity. We just could not quite find that winning goal today.”

Rotherham boss Steve Evans is glad to be back at the New York Stadium.

He said: “It was everything you would have wanted. It was exciting. It was a fantastic welcome. How I got received will go down as another wonderful memory at this place.

“That is how we play. We played against a team fighting for their lives and against top players.

“The boys have gone through the pain barrier. All we can do is freshen them up and get them ready for Bristol City and Cardiff.

“The break in play changed the momentum of the game because they were under the cosh. It was like starting afresh. It gave the Birmingham lads an opportunity to reset.

“We asked the boys to work incredibly hard. From a neutral point of view a draw was probably a fair result.”

Rotherham have appointed Steve Evans for a second spell in charge after sacking Leam Richardson.

Richardson left the Millers on Wednesday morning after losing 18 of his 24 games in charge, overseeing relegation to Sky Bet League One, with Stevenage manager Evans swiftly named as his replacement a few hours later on a three-year deal.

Evans previously managed at the New York Stadium between 2012 and 2015, when he guided the club from League Two to Championship safety.

He leaves Stevenage having also taken them from the bottom of League Two to sitting just outside of the League One play-offs.

Evans’ returns sees a change in structure, with director of football Rob Scott reverting to head of recruitment and the Scot coming in as manager rather than head coach.

Chairman Tony Stewart said: “On behalf of everyone at Rotherham United, I’m absolutely delighted to welcome Steve Evans and Paul Raynor back to the football club.

“Leam and Rob’s (Kelly, assistant manager) departure was not something we took lightly, but following extensive conversations at board level, it was unanimously agreed that a change of direction was needed to give us the best possible chance of bouncing back to the Sky Bet Championship at the first time of asking.

“In Steve and Paul, we have two individuals that understand the Rotherham United ‘DNA’ and know what it takes to build a successful team. They have a proven track record of success at a plethora of clubs, including our own.

“Finally, I would like to place on record my thanks to Leam Richardson and Rob Kelly for their efforts and it goes without saying that they leave with the very best wishes of everyone here at Rotherham United.”

The former Wigan boss took over from Matt Taylor in December but endured a miserable time at the New York Stadium.

His appointment was with a view to rebuilding the club in the third tier but he has not made it until the end of the season, with his assistant Kelly also leaving with immediate effect.

Luke Williams challenged his Swansea players to secure a top-half finish in the Sky Bet Championship following their 1-0 victory over Rotherham.

The Swans controlled proceedings against the already-relegated Millers, but needed an Andy Rinomhota own goal in the 74th minute to earn victory.

It ensured Swansea claimed back-to-back wins for only the second time under Williams, while they also kept successive clean sheets for the first time under the head coach following a 3-0 triumph over Stoke in midweek.

Williams – whose side sit five points adrift of the top 12 in the Championship with three matches left to play this season – wants Swansea to fight to secure a top-half berth.

“The players have got to show that they’ll continue to run hard and fight for everything and not try and take it easy,” he said.

“I need to see the character that they have. Whatever the circumstances, whatever the position, they’ll apply themselves, that’s a group I want.

“It’s when things get more complicated then you need to know you’ve got the right characters. I want to see that from everybody in the last three games, as a minimum.

“That’s (top-half aim) a good challenge. Let’s go and make really good performances, and see how many points we can pick up.”

On the long-term picture for Swansea, Williams added: “We’re nearly a good team. We have a really big summer and then we can do something exciting.

“I need to continue to try and find solutions for the team to help them be more creative. I need to get the balance right.

“Of course, we have to try to get the right personnel that are going to thrive. If we do all of that, we’re going to be alright.”

Meanwhile, Leam Richardson felt defeat in south Wales was “cruel” for his side after they appeared destined to secure only a second away league clean sheet this season until Rinomhota’s unfortunate own goal.

“It’s a cruel game at times,” said the Rotherham boss.

“The goal conceded, obviously it’s cruel because Andy’s been very good and he’s been committed.

“Coming from Wednesday night away at West Brom and then back on the coach again, travelling down to Swansea with a small number of players, it’s commendable.

“The lads who have made themselves available and put the work ethic in today. Credit to Swansea on the victory.

“We know where we are. We know which moment we are in and we know how we want to go forward with it. We want to put our best foot forward to return to this level and be a better version of ourselves.”

Rotherham manager Leam Richardson was left perplexed by referee Geoff Eltringham’s decision to award West Brom a penalty in the Baggies’ 2-0 win over the already-relegated Millers at the Hawthorns.

Brandon Thomas-Asante had handed the promotion-chasing hosts a 23rd-minute lead before Eltringham pointed to the spot when the striker’s shot struck Lee Peltier, though replays showed he was outside the box and the ball appeared to strike his face.

John Swift netted the resulting penalty in first-half stoppage time to settle the Championship fixture.

Richardson said: “I’ve not seen that before. The assistant was maybe 10 yards away looking down the line of it. Then he goes and books my assistant manager (Rob Kelly) for telling him ‘the linesman can help’. It was a wrong decision, and a poor one in my opinion. It changed the full outcome of the game.

“The first goal we gave away was poor, but then I thought the second one changed the whole complex.

“Someone said in another interview that those decisions go against you when you’re down there, but that’s a disgusting way of looking at it. You should have a consistency of professionalism regardless.

“I never question anyone’s integrity, but I can’t explain that decision.

“We’ve had a number of similar decisions and apology letters, but I have no interest in that. You can’t get those decisions wrong.”

Asked if he would report the match officials, Richardson said: “What? And get another apology letter?”

Richardson’s opposing number Carlos Corberan, who has guided West Brom into fifth and nine points clear of the chasing pack with four matches left to play, said he had not seen a replay of the incident.

“I didn’t see the action back,” he said.

“I knew from the level of the protests from the players and the staff, I understood that there was no doubt that it was the wrong decision. In these situations, you always want fair decisions.

“Later in the game there was another decision, maybe a foul on Asante inside the box, that the referee didn’t whistle.

“If the referee did something wrong, he can, let’s say, compensate for this, but during the year, unfortunately the referees haven’t had the support to guarantee the right or wrong decisions. Live, they need to make quick decisions.

“Sometimes they make mistakes because everyone does. It happens in your favour sometimes, sometimes not. We have, this year, received a lot of wrong decisions against us, which we don’t want in the same way we don’t want any type of advantage in the decision.

“If the action wasn’t a penalty, it’s a pity, but hopefully it’s a compensation of something that we have suffered from before.”

Rotherham’s relegation from the Sky Bet Championship was confirmed after they lost 1-0 at home to Plymouth.

Leam Richardson’s team knew only victory would keep their outside hopes of survival alive but they could not muster a fightback after Bali Mumba had put Argyle ahead in the first half.

Interim head coach Neil Dewsnip was in the dugout for the visitors after Ian Foster’s catastrophic reign was brought to an end earlier this week, with Argyle only picking up one win in their last 11 matches.

The run dragged them deep into relegation trouble of their own but Mumba’s strike gave them only their third victory on the road this season and moves them four points clear of the drop zone.

Rotherham’s first effort came from Seb Revan, who, encouraged by his goal on Easter Monday, took aim from distance but fired high and wide.

Plymouth threatened when a set-piece bobbled around the six-yard area before being eventually scrambled away by the Rotherham defence.

The visitors’ Callum Wright could not get a shot away in time from a promising position as he was charged down by Hakeem Odoffin, before Wright spurned an even bigger opportunity when he was unmarked from Ryan Hardie’s cross but headed off target.

Plymouth made the decisive breakthrough in the 32nd minute when Mumba poked in after a cross from Morgan Whittaker evaded Revan and found the full-back lurking unmarked at the back post. He cut in and managed to finish beyond Viktor Johansson’s grasp at the near post.

Argyle top-scorer Whittaker was becoming more influential early in the second half and he was close to doubling their lead with a driven effort from range.

Rotherham had a decent opening when a deep corner from Sam Clucas ran all the way through to Cohen Bramall at the back post but the full-back’s effort was weak.

The hosts threatened again through Revan who cut in from the right flank and stung the palms of Michael Cooper, with the rebound just evading Tom Eaves.

Argyle were still trying for a killer second goal and Johansson had to be alert to Ryan Hardie’s touch from Adam Randell’s impressive front post delivery.

Substitute Adam Forshaw’s curling effort had Johansson temporarily worried but it was just off target.

Plymouth really should have secured the victory in the final minutes but Dan Scarr’s header was kept out, then Ben Waine’s effort cannoned off the post.

Waine was denied again by an onrushing Johansson when one-on-one but the margin at the end was just one goal.

Rotherham head coach Leam Richardson was encouraged by his team’s 0-0 draw with Huddersfield and felt the Millers could have picked up a rare three points.

The Millers avoided a 10th straight Championship defeat in the stalemate and came closest to snatching all three points in the Yorkshire derby.

Rotherham have won just three times this campaign and only once under Richardson but they could not force a winner against 10 men.

Sorba Thomas saw red for the visitors just before the hour mark after picking up two yellow cards.

Richardson was pleased to stop the rot but Rotherham, who picked up a rare clean sheet and shrugged off successive 5-0 defeats, remain winless since Boxing Day.

He said: “The positives are that it was a clean sheet in a local derby and we were competitive. There was good work ethic.

“We started the game well. I am obviously disappointed with the end result with them going down to 10 men – our habits have got to be better.

“The players need my support and leadership to recover from weeks like that. I would like to think they have had that in abundance this week.

“The lads were on the floor (after the 5-0 losses). I’ve had to pick them up and change shape a little bit to get more forward runners on the pitch and be more dynamic with it. It helps when players are coming back to fitness and we have more competition for places.

“I thought first half we were disappointed we couldn’t go in 1-0 up.

“We had enough possession and moments to win the game. We could have been better with our decision making.

“Is a draw a fair result? Probably because I don’t think either keeper had to work hard to keep the ball out of the net, which is disappointing on our part. The sending off ruined the game like it often does.”

Huddersfield produced some decent build-up play in the first period but most of it led to routine saves for Viktor Johansson with Jack Rudoni, Delano Burgzorg and David Kasumu all firing within easy range of the Sweden international.

Rotherham almost broke the deadlock with loanee midfielder Andy Rinomhota’s curling effort bouncing back off the woodwork. Charlie Wyke was then unable to turn in the rebound.

Huddersfield’s task was made more difficult in the 59th minute when Thomas picked up a second yellow card for hauling down Ollie Rathbone.

From then on the visitors’ threat came predominantly from set-pieces, all of which were sternly dealt with by Rotherham.

Huddersfield head coach Andre Breitenreiter said: “We came to get the three points. We started really well. Rotherham are dangerous from long throws but we defended really good.

“The game changed with the red card. You know it’s never easy to play with 10 players but in my opinion you could not see that we had 10 players. The boys did really good. We created chances and set-pieces.

“We did not score and we have to work on this. For me it’s not always the shot on the goal, it’s the final pass.

“We have to live with the 0-0. It’s a positive to get the clean sheet and I congratulate the team for their fight for survival.

“I am sure we would have won today with 11 players. It was good to get one point and a clean sheet.”

Watford head coach Valerien Ismael admitted feeling some relief after his side ended their losing streak with a 1-0 win at Rotherham.

Neither side entered the contest with much confidence following three straight defeats apiece but it was Watford who snatched the points thanks to Yaser Asprilla’s second-half strike.

Ismael said: “We were ready for the battle. We spoke about it before the game.

“It was all about the result. We had to be solid and to do the basics right.

“Finally it was another clean sheet. It was very difficult but we managed well.

“Our focus was all about the result. We have had to stay positive. There is no excuse any more – we had to act on the pitch.

“Yaser is a player who has learned a lot this season and he is ready now to have an impact on games. I am very pleased for him.

“We were stronger in the line-up because we expected (a physical) game. We had to protect our goal and we defended well. We knew the ball would be coming in the air.

“It’s a big relief to get three points. The next challenge is to win the next home game.”

Both sides created decent opportunities in the first period. The nearest Watford came was through Asprilla but his deflected effort was just over the bar.

Rotherham’s Peter Kioso looked the dangerman early on and tested Ben Hamer with a header.

Watford went ahead just before the hour-mark, with Asprilla showing real quality to smash beyond Viktor Johansson after the ball had fallen to him on the edge of the area.

Rotherham then did all the pushing. Seb Revan fired just off target and Sean Morrison and Hakeem Odoffin came close with headers.

Watford were defending desperately come the end and it took timely blocks from Jake Livermore and Wesley Hoedt to deny Rotherham.

Millers’ head coach Leam Richardson still only has one win in the hotseat at the New York Stadium and his side are now 14 points from safety.

However, he is managing to remain positive.

He said: “You’re judged on the final result; I think we are up on every stat within the game apart from the result which counts.

“I am disappointed for the players. They gave enough effort and endeavour to get a positive result out of the game. That is where we are.

“I have said it before and I will probably be repeating myself a lot now until the end of the season, I knew the challenge coming in.

“There is no reason why we can’t give a good account of ourselves whether that be on a Saturday or Tuesday or Monday, Thursday, Friday. We have still got points to play for and an end goal.

“It is important we remain positive. It’s easy to ask negative questions.

“The lads know they have got to give a good account of themselves at Ipswich on Tuesday.

“The players were on the floor at the end but you have got to pick them up. There is nothing to gain by being negative.

“We are not kidding ourselves because we know it’s a tough division.

“I have been in worse situations than this and come through it.”

Rotherham head coach Leam Richardson said his players deserved the “little bit of luck” that earned them a battling 1-0 win over Middlesbrough.

The Millers had been on an abject run of 11 games without a victory, dating back to October. That run had seen the departure of Matt Taylor as manager and Rotherham sink to the bottom of the Sky Bet Championship.

But an unexpected three points in this match has reignited a bit of hope.

Richardson, who picked up his first points in the Millers hot-seat, said: “The credit needs to go to the players for the victory.

“I class it as three games in charge and with the work ethic and level of performance they have shown, they have deserved that little bit of luck.

“We are low on bodies and we have players playing out of position. Some are having to do things that are quite foreign to them.

“But it’s a choice to tackle, head and run back and stay connected to your team-mates with recovery runs. We have that in abundance.

“With regards to confidence levels, when you put so much effort in, you want a reward for it.

“I thought we were a little bit passive first half. We don’t want to be like that. We have front-footed players.

“The harder you work, the luckier you get.”

Middlesbrough missed a host of chances with both Sam Greenwood and Isaiah Jones culpable of not taking big opportunities.

Greenwood also rattled the crossbar and substitute Riley McGree saw his effort turned onto a post by Viktor Johansson.

Rotherham also had Hakeem Odoffin and Seb Revan to thank for bravely blocking goal-bound efforts as Middlesbrough cranked up the pressure in the second half.

The Millers certainly rode their luck and got some more after 72 minutes with Cohen Bramall’s misplaced cross wrong-footing Tom Glover and flying into the far corner of the net.

Middlesbrough also felt they should have had a second-half penalty when Alex Bangura went down under a challenge from Odoffin.

Boro head coach Michael Carrick said: “I’m baffled, to be honest. I know referees have a tough job. It’s not even a tussle or a little trip, he just takes him out.

“For the life of me I don’t understand how he can’t give the decision there. It’s a massive moment and the less I say about it is probably the better.

“Whatever the referee says about it, we are not going to agree. It was so obvious. It’s crazy.

“I think it’s the first time we have not conceded a shot and lost the game.

“We created enough to score one or two at least. We have got goals in the team. We are playing largely good football. The boys will be fine.

“It’s very difficult to be critical of the boys. We controlled it. It’s a very strange game sometimes.

“They (Rotherham) are always in the game until you kill them off. We dealt with them so well. We will take a lot from it and look forward to our next game.”

Rotherham’s new head coach Leam Richardson said he knows the size of the challenge he has taken on following their 2-0 defeat to West Brom.

Second-half goals from Grady Diangana and Jed Wallace were the difference as the Millers’ winless run extended to nine games stretching back to October.

Richardson, who was officially appointed on Monday to replace Matt Taylor, is looking forward to the challenge but is under no illusions as to the size of the task facing rock-bottom Rotherham.

He said: “It is exactly the same challenge as I thought it was when I came in. It’s one of the top leagues in Europe. West Brom will be right up there.

“They have had two shots on target and they have both gone in. We are in a really challenging league.

“The first goal was a mistake and a technical error, which happens. We won’t dwell on it. We have a group of staff and players who want to get better.

“The work was already done (before this match). You can only commend the effort and endeavour out there.

“There are always areas where we want to improve. Collectively we can get better.

“I have only been here minutes so it’s important that you listen and don’t only talk.

“We are where we are. We don’t look at the past.

“I’ve got ideas about how I want to play. That won’t happen overnight. It will also take one or two transfer windows.”

Early chances fell for both sides, with Darnell Furlong poking wide from a West Brom corner and then Jordan Hugill heading straight at Alex Palmer.

But the game settled into a lull leading into the break with neither goalkeeper remotely troubled.

West Brom badly needed to inject some life into their attacks in the second period and one paid off after 54 minutes.

Jayson Molumby’s cross was only partially cleared by Dexter Lembikisa and Diangana took full advantage with his low shot deflected beyond the grasp of keeper Viktor Johansson.

The Baggies then sealed the points in the final minute with Wallace’s perfect free-kick from the edge of the box.

West Brom head coach Carlos Corberan was pleased to see his side bounce back from successive losses.

He said: “I knew how tough this game would be in its competitiveness.

“We knew they would play long balls to create individual duels and challenges. We needed to be strong on the set-pieces. They are strong and they have the size.

“I watched Leeds’ game here when they drew and Swansea won here by one goal against 10 men for 70 minutes. I knew how uncomfortable the game would be.

“I think what’s important is that the team found better solutions from the situation.”

West Brom got back to winning ways with two second-half strikes proving to be the difference in a 2-0 triumph at Rotherham.

The Baggies had suffered back-to-back defeats heading into this game but Grady Diangana’s deflected strike and Jed Wallace’s perfect free-kick ensured a very welcome three points for Carlos Corberan’s side.

Rotherham welcomed new head coach Leam Richardson but they remain winless since October – a nine-game streak which has seen them drop to the foot of the Championship.

The first chance of the game fell the way of the visitors, with a low corner from Alex Mowatt finding its way through to Darnell Furlong who poked wide at the near post.

Rotherham’s first opening came through the recalled Jordan Hugill but his floated header from Ollie Rathbone’s free-kick was easily gathered by Alex Palmer.

That was as good as it got for the remainder of the half as West Brom kept the ball well but did very little with it.

The visitors finally showed some adventure early in the second half with a mazy dribble from skipper Conor Townsend leading to a cross to Jayson Molumby, but he miscued his volley off target.

They went in front on 54 minutes when a cross from Molumby was cleared hastily by Dexter Lembikisa and only as far as Diangana, whose low effort took a deflection to wrong-foot keeper Viktor Johansson.

Rotherham tried to respond quickly but Arvin Appiah lashed way off target after finding space around the edge of the box.

The visitors almost fashioned another chance through a succession of Furlong’s long throws and then substitute Wallace whipped in a dangerous cross which had to be cleared to safety.

Richardson looked to his bench with the hopes of mustering a chance for a leveller in the closing stages.

The Millers’ record signing Sam Nombe joined Hugill up front but it was Hakeem Odoffin who almost got on the end of a whipped cross from the right wing.

Rathbone also delivered a dangerous ball from a free-kick and it was almost met by Nombe’s head before it drifted out to safety at the back post.

West Brom made sure of the points in the 90th minute with Wallace curling in an inch-perfect free-kick from the edge of the box.

Tom Eaves looked to grab a consolation for Rotherham in added time but his header from Lembikisa’s cross was blocked by former Miller Semi Ajayi.

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.