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.”

Proud Middlesbrough boss Michael Carrick hailed his players for executing their game plan to perfection in a “big win” over Championship leaders Leicester.

Boro usually play possession football but had to change their approach for the visit of the Foxes, who dominated the ball at the Riverside but failed to find a breakthrough against Carrick’s stubborn and organised side.

And after frustrating Enzo Maresca’s visitors, Boro snatched the win late on thanks to Sam Greenwood’s moment of magic. The Leeds loanee scored his fourth goal in six games with a stunning free-kick.

“It was a big win,” said delighted Carrick. “They are a really good team and we knew that.

“Individually, collectively, how they’re coached, they’re a very good team and it’s not an accident that they are where they are in the league.

“We showed a different side to ourselves today with a lot of the out-of-possession work. It was really good pressing and really good defensively. They test you, you have to close certain spaces for the whole game, you have to concentrate for the whole game and that was a major factor.

“The boys got the game plan off to a tee and actually, the few chances we did give away were from us giving the ball away, which we don’t normally do. That’s one of those things though.

“It was an immense effort and I’m so proud of the boys.”

Greenwood is proving himself to be a key player for Middlesbrough and Carrick said of his match winner: “I kind of had a feeling as he stepped up, I fancied him because it looked like it was set up just at the right spot for him.

“It’s a hell of a free-kick. There are not many people who can pull that off, but he’s got that in his locker consistently. It’s a real threat and a real weapon for us.”

Despite a second successive Championship defeat, with Ipswich now level on points, Leicester boss Maresca was not overly concerned and said his players paid the price for missed chances.

Jannik Vestergaard went close in the first half but was denied by a brilliant save from Seny Dieng, before City tried to turn the screw after the break. The closest they came to breaking the deadlock was when Kelechi Iheanacho hit a post 10 minutes from time, before Greenwood claimed the winner three minutes later.

Maresca said: “I think I have been quite clear, we created many chances and many situations where we should score but when you miss, miss, miss and they score a fantastic goal, that’s football.

“It’s a moment where you create but don’t take your chance and the opposite, they score a fantastic goal. It is what it is.

“To be honest I thought we were in control of the game, created five or six clear chances and many situations where we missed the last pass. The players are annoyed because we lost and it’s normal to be like that.”

Leicester will be without Harry Winks for their first game back after the international break against Watford after the midfielder picked up his fifth yellow card of the season.

Maresca said: “For sure Harry will be a big miss but for many games he’s been waiting for one more yellow.”

Championship leaders Leicester suffered their second successive 1-0 defeat after Sam Greenwood settled a tight game with a late stunner to send Middlesbrough into the international break on a high.

Enzo Maresca’s side lost to Leeds last week and Greenwood – on loan at Boro from Elland Road – hit a brilliant free-kick seven minutes from time to lift Michael Carrick’s Boro up to 10th in the table, just two points outside the top six.

Leicester are now only top on goal difference following Ipswich’s win over Swansea.

The Foxes had looked the more likely winners for long spells at the Riverside but could not force a way through Middlesbrough’s organised backline.

There was not much to separate the sides in a hard-fought first half, with both keepers making brilliant saves.

Leicester dominated possession in the opening stages but it was Boro who created the better of the early chances, with Josh Coburn – who bagged a brace in last week’s 3-3 draw at Plymouth – twice going close.

Although the home side did a good job of restricting Leicester, the Foxes did have two good first-half opportunities to break the deadlock.

Maresca’s side were almost gifted an opener when Isaiah Jones’ attempted backpass was intercepted by Kelechi Iheanacho, who stung the hands of home goalkeeper Seny Dieng.

And just after the half-hour mark, Dieng again denied the leaders, making a superb one-handed save to keep out Jannik Vestergaard’s header after a corner from the left.

In the dying seconds of the opening period, it was the turn of Leicester keeper Mads Hermansen. First he got down to his left to tip a low Matt Crooks shot around a post. And from the resulting corner, he clawed out a Dael Fry header that looked destined for the top corner.

Leicester tried to turn the screw in the second half and substitute Abdul Fatawu bounced over a volley from close in after good work down the left from Stephy Mavididi.

Mavididi then had a chance of his own but dragged his left-footed shot wide of the far post, before Iheanacho was gifted an opportunity after a Dieng mistake, only for the keeper to make amends with a fine stop.

Iheanacho beat Dieng with his next chance with just over 10 minutes to play, only to see his delicate chip bounce back off the near post. And moments later, against the run of play, Boro scored what proved to be the winner.

There was initially some anger inside the Riverside when referee Oliver Langford pulled back play for a foul on Greenwood instead of playing the advantage with the home side in the attack and with men over.

But Greenwood lifted himself off the deck to curl home a beautiful free-kick into Hermansen’s top corner.

Middlesbrough took full advantage of Dan Neil’s first half red card and ran riot after the break to hammer Sunderland 4-0 in the Wear-Tees derby at the Stadium of Light.

Midfielder Neil was sent off for Tony Mowbray’s side deep in first half stoppage time after receiving a second yellow card for dissent, allowing Boro to take complete control.

Former Sunderland youngster Sam Greenwood, who came through the ranks on Wearside before leaving for Arsenal when he was just 16 and later joining Leeds, broke the deadlock on 58 minutes before Matt Crooks added a second goal two minutes later.

The impressive Isaiah Jones scored the third 17 minutes from time before substitute Marcus Forss wrapped up the emphatic victory in the last minute.

After failing to pick up three points in any of the first seven Championship games, Boro – who were widely fancied for promotion before a ball was kicked this season – have now won four league games on the bounce.

Sunderland had won five of their last six games and were first to threaten when Abdoullah Ba fired just over the crossbar inside the first 10 minutes, before Patrick Roberts forced a fine save out of Seny Dieng after a weaving run from the right.

Boro responded well and after Greenwood’s shot was only parried by Anthony Patterson, Josh Coburn hit the outside of the post with the rebound from a tight angle.

The game swung in Boro’s favour deep in first half stoppage time when Neil, who had been booked earlier in the half for a foul on Coburn, was given a second yellow card for dissent. A melee then broke out at half-time after a Coburn foul on Ballard, with Carrick and his coaching team rushing on to the pitch in an effort to calm things down.

Boro had two glorious chances early in the second half as they set about making the most of their numerical advantage. Patterson made a fine save at the feet of Crooks, who looked certain to slot home Jones’ cross from the right. From the resulting corner, Paddy McNair headed over just four yards out.

The goal Boro had threatened arrived 13 minutes after the break. Dael Fry picked out Greenwood inside the box and the 21-year-old lashed beyond Patterson. Just two minutes later the game was all but over as Jones beat Clarke down the right before teeing up Crooks for a tap in.

Jones got the goal he deserved after weaving across the pitch from the right and keeping his cool to slot home with his left foot. And after substitute Latte Lath’s shot was saved by Patterson in the 90th minute, Forss was on hand to score the fourth.

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