Shots returned to The Don Valley Stadium, Sheffield - the scene of last season's play off semi final defeat to Rotherham - and just as they did in May, they returned empty handed.
The Millers are riding high in League Two again this season and whilst they manage to retain the services of the prolific Adam Le Fondre, they have every chance of securing promotion. ALF, as he is affectionately known by Millers fans, proved, yet again, to be the difference between the two sides. It could have been a very different story, had Wade Small converted a first half penalty whilst the score was 0-0, but it wasn't to be.
Shots manager Manager Kevin Dillon was clearly intent on winning the midfield battle and sent out the team in a 4-5-1 formation, with Harding, Panther and Gutteridge central, Small and Straker wide and Marvin Morgan up top on his own. In truth, Shots begun well, forcing three corners in the opening ten minutes a shot by Marvin Morgan and a wicked, curling strike by a seemingly rejuvenated Ben Harding. Millers came back in to it though and went close with a couple of headers themselves.
Then, with half an hour gone, came a gift for Shots which, sadly they failed to accept! Ben Herd, marauding down the right flank, played a delightful one-two with Morgan and as he collected the return, was brought to ground by Will Atkinson. Soft? Maybe, but a penalty it was. Gutteridge, Panther and Small were all involved in discussions as the ball was placed on the spot. Why? Surely the penalty taker should be decided before the match! Amid confusion and uncertainty, Small stepped up to take it and promptly smacked it against the post!
So, Rotherham survived and less than ten minutes later, rubbed salt in Shot's wounds. They found themselves with a man over on the right side, man of the match Marcus Marshall. Vincent impeded him but the referee played a good advantage and from the by-line, he sent in a low skidding cross that evaded everyone except that man ALF, who, from a tight angle, smashed the ball high into the Aldershot net! 1-0 Rotherham and yet again Shots had conceded in the five minute period just before half time. Making mistakes is one thing – failing to learn from them – unacceptable! Harsh, but true.
Shots began the second half as they did the first – with purpose – but it's goals that win games and they soon fizzled out again. Millers went looking for a second goal and began to dominate. Jamie Young kept Shots in it, with two point blank saves in a minute. Marshall continued to wreak havoc down Shots left flank and continued to give Vincent, already on a yellow card, a torrid time. In one break, Marshall ran the length of Shots half and cut inside, only to shoot straight at Young. ALF had a couple more, half struck attempts, but somehow, as the game entered it's final quarter, it remained 1-0.
Shots mustered the odd attack but never really looked like pulling level. Small put Morgan through, but at the moment, he seems to have forgotten how those beautifully taken early hit strikes against Oxford and Morecambe brought him great rewards and as he dithered in posession, a Millers defender promptly slid in and took the ball off him.
It was no surprise when Vincent's nightmare ended prematurely with a second yellow card and finally, after six minutes added time, the referee ended Shots nightmare too.
So, for the third consecutive match Shots failed to score against Rotherham and this defeat sees them drop to seventeenth place, just three points clear of a relegation place.