Even before the season began, the challenge of surviving back in the Championship seemed a daunting one for Rotherham United.
Indeed, for much of last season, the idea of the Millers even being in the Championship this campaign seemed something of a long shot, with Paul Warne’s side only cementing a playoff place in the final third of the season.
Having then negotiated Scunthorpe and season-long automatic promotion hopefuls Shrewsbury in the playoffs, the Millers found themselves preparing for an immediate return to the Championship, amidst a backdrop of many tipping them to follow that with an immediate to League One. But for much of the season, and despite wins being hard to come by, Rotherham had been keeping their heads above water. Recent weeks however have seen the Millers slip below the dotted line, which doesn’t seem to have been an altogether bad thing.
That slide into the bottom three seems to have brought out a newly ignited fighting spirit around the club, with one player in particular quite literally stepping up to the mark.
Since slipping into the relegation zone, Rotherham have lost just once in four games, with defensive midfielder Semi Ajayi emerging as the unlikely goalscoring hero of the Millers’mini-revivall. Having scored the equaliser in the crucial draw with relegation rivals Reading, Ajayi found the net with two towering headers in the 3-2 win over Blackburn, capping his remarkable run of with both goals, including another huge header in the final as Rotherham finally got their first away win of the season with a 2-1 win at QPR on Tuesday.
That run has brought Rotherham level on points with Wigan in 21st, with a only a single goal keeping them below the dotted line on goal difference. That renewed fight will now be crucial to The Millers hope of survival, particularly given that Rotherham’s run in features a long list of sides chasing either promotion or the playoffs. A few more leaps inthe opposition penalty area from Ajayi probably wouldn’t go amiss either.