On the night they appeared on the brink of selling yet another of their prize assets, Coventry revived their hopes of a return to the Premiership with their first home victory since before Christmas.
If the midfielder Lee Carsley's mooted move to Everton goes through, the Sky Blues will have collected almost £30m in transfer fees since announcing a £60m mountain of debt following their relegation from the top flight last May.
Inspired by the winger David Thompson, back in the side after a three-match suspension, Coventry started slowly but controlled the final hour of the game and twice hit the woodwork before the defender Mohamed Konjic broke the deadlock 13 minutes from time.
The visitors might have equalised as play went into stoppage time. But after Chris Sedgwick's 20-yard shot was blocked by goalkeeper Marcus Hedman, the striker Alan Lee struck the rebound wide of the empty net.
When a similar chance fell to the Coventry substitute Lee Hughes three minutes into stoppage time, the former West Bromwich striker drilled in his ninth goal of the season after Mike Pollitt had failed to hold a drive by Colin Healy.
Both sides had been forced to replace key midfielders, Rotherham having lost their captain Kevin Watson due to a stomach bug, while Carsley was missing through an unspecified illness.
The Republic of Ireland midfielder had earlier seen his proposed £1.5m move to Everton put on hold. Carsley's absence made way for the return of the Moroccan midfielder Youssef Safri, back from African Nations' Cup duties, but the more significant change to the home side's line-up saw winger David Thompson returning from a three match suspension.
Thompson went close to giving his team a 29th minute lead, expertly curling in a 20-yard free-kick which Pollitt brilliantly turned over the bar. Four minutes later Lee Mills fired a 20-yard effort inches wide of the near post.
Pollitt then had to save a goal bound header by Konjic from Thompson's 40th-minute corner. Three minutes before the interval Thompson again went close, driving an angled shot into the side netting.
As Coventry maintained their pressure following the break, Mills unluckily sent a 50th-minute header just wide and Thompson struck a low shot past the near post. The visitors were relying on breakaways to mount attacks, but they almost took the lead in the 61st minute. From a cross by winger Chris Sedgwick to the far post, Lee headed goalwards but Hedman pushed the ball over the bar. Hughes, surprisingly dropped from the starting line-up, forced Pollitt into a good blocking save from a 75th minute shot.
Coventry City (4-4-2): Hedman; Quinn, Breen (Davenport, 54), Konjic, Hall; Delorge, Safri, Healy, Thompson; Mills, Bothroyd (Hughes, 63). Substitutes not used: McSheffrey, Montgomerie (gk), Betts.
Rotherham United (4-4-2): Pollitt; Scott, Swailes, McIntosh, Hurst; Warne (Monkhouse, 82), Mullin, Talbot (Daws, 77), Sedgwick; Lee, Robins (Barker, 77). Substitutes not used: Gray (gk), Branston.
Referee: G Cain (Bootle).Reuse content