IT WAS to be a festive period of missed opportunities for Rovers as they saw another two points slip through their fingers late on against Rotherham United on New Year’s Day.

Moments of quality were few and far between at the New York Stadium but there was a determination to both sides’ play in a match which ended all square as David Ball tapped home in the final minute to earn the hosts a point.

A tight game looked set to be decided by Bradley Dack’s 10th goal of the season midway through the second half but Rovers’ failure to hold on sees them fall five points behind Shrewsbury Town in second place ahead of their Ewood Park meeting on January 13.

Following a final game of 2017 where Rovers twice led but ended up drawing 2-2 with Scunthorpe United, and Marcus Antonsson’s late penalty miss against Northampton on December 23, Tony Mowbray’s men could, and most probably should, be six points better off.

Defending set plays has been something of an Achilles heel for Rovers at times and they were tested early on in Yorkshire as Rotherham slung plenty of crosses into their box. 

Semi Ajayi headed an Anthony Forde corner straight at David Raya who then made an excellent stop low down in the 11th minute to keep out a Will Vaulks piledriver.

A scrappy opening quarter brought few clear-cut openings for either side, with both teams guilty of losing possession too easily.

The best chance of the first period saw Rovers somehow fail to turn the ball over the line from an almighty scramble. After Corry Evans’ shot was blocked, Derrick Williams had three separate attempts at forcing the ball over the line inside the six yard box, twice denied by excellent point-blank saves from Marek Rodak before a third effort was blocked on the line. When Joe Mattock threw his body in front of an Elliott Bennett shot the move was gone and Rotherham’s last ditch defending was met by a huge roar from the home faithful.

Williams and Rodak were to resume their battle shortly afterwards, with the keeper palming over the full-back’s dipping effort.

Vaulks’ shot apart, Raya wasn’t unduly troubled, though he was grateful to watch a Ball effort curl wide of his left post.

The second half began with Rovers trying to play with more of a flow, though several spells of play in the attacking third came to nothing.

Both sides made double changes in the hope of breaking the deadlock and within two minutes of Mowbray’s alteration Rovers took the lead with Dack once again the man to come up with the vital goal.

He reached double figures for the season as he raced clear of Ajayi from Smallwood’s pass before arrowing a shot across Rodak in to the far corner.

Dack was moved to a wide right role, with Bennett on the left, after the Rovers changes and he exploited the space for the goal.

But Rotherham stayed in the game and Corry Evans did well to block a Richie Towell volley with 12 minutes to go as Raya continued to get good protection in front of him.

There was no subtlety to the Millers’ approach late on, moving a centre half up front for the final eight minutes and going direct.

As the corner count rose, they forced an equaliser in the dying seconds. Unsurprisingly it came from a set play as Towell’s delivery was flicked on at the near post and turned in at the far by Ball.

Five frantic minutes of added time saw the Millers continue to press with Towell seeing a late half-volley fly just over the bar as both sides were forced to settle for a point apiece. Third place Rovers are now only ahead of Scunthorpe in fourth on goal difference.