Rotherham still have not found a cure for their travel sickness. Their run of league games without a win stretched to 15 on Wearside last night, though, in slowing the Sunderland revival bandwagon, Ronnie Moore and his men succeeded in scoring a moral victory of sorts over one of South Yorkshire's favourite football sons.
It was a frustrating night for Mick McCarthy. Mr Motivator from Barnsley has inspired Sunderland to twice as many wins this season as they gained in the Premiership last term but he watched helplessly from the touchline as the prospect of victory No 9 foundered on a flurry of missed opportunities.
Rotherham's last win away from Millmoor in the First Division dates back to 8 February, a 2-1 triumph at Vicarage Road. Tommy Smith opened the scoring for Watford that day and the former England Under-21 international was in the opposition ranks last night, making his first start for Sunderland.
He did not take long in making his presence felt, either, skipping past Rob Scott wide on the left in the seventh minute and dispatching a pin-point cross for Kevin Kyle, who, fortunately for Rotherham, was far from precise with his header from the six-yard line.
Rotherham might have been ahead at that stage but when they caught Sunderland cold in the opening minute Stewart Talbot shot woefully wide from the left edge of the area. Not that the Millers had the wind in their sails for very long. The astute prompting of John Oster yielded a stream of chances for Sunderland that were either squandered by the clumsiness of Kyle or snuffed out by the goalkeeping of Mike Pollitt.
Kyle's most glaring error came three minutes into the second-half: a shot straight at Pollitt when Marcus Stewart put him clear through the middle. McCarthy held his head in his hands at pitch-side. He did so again when the substitute Michael Proctor shot across the face of the Rotherham goal four minutes from time.
The only consolation for the Sunderland manager was that Rotherham were equally inept on the odd occasions they broke up-field. It was the Millers' third successive point on their travels, but it was achieved at the cost of Rob Scott being taken off the field on a stretcher with knee damage.
Sunderland (4-4-2): Poom; Williams, Breen, McCartney, Arca; Oster, Whitley, Healy, Smith (Thornton, 71); Stewart (Proctor, 71) Kyle. Substitutes not used: Ingham (gk), Quinn, Bjorklund.
Rotherham United (4-4-2): Pollitt; Scott (Hurst, 57), Barker, Swailes, Minto; Sedgwick, Robinson, Talbot (Mullin, 82), Warne; Byfield, Butler. Substitutes not used: Montgomery (gk), Barker, Monkhouse.
Referee: C Foy (Merseyside).Reuse content