Lesser teams might have settled for a point - not Blues.BCFC
Lee Bowyer’s side moved a step closer to survival with a hard-fought victory at the Asseal New York Stadium.
Harlee Dean’s 88th-minute header was the difference in South Yorkshire as Blues were rewarded for their patience.
They had come closest to breaking the deadlock prior to the skipper’s goal through a Lukas Jutkiewicz header.
Bowyer made one enforced change to the team that beat Stoke City at St. Andrew’s Trillion Trophy Stadium eight days ago. Out went the injured Alen Halilović and in came Riley McGree in front of the Sky Sports cameras.
Blues set out their stall and made their intentions abundantly clear by creating a chance inside 30 seconds. Before Rotherham had even touched the ball, Lukas Jutkiewicz had headed a Maxime Colin cross fractionally over.
The Millers bit back with an attempt of their own in the sixth minute, but Neil Etheridge was not forced into a save from Freddie Ladapo’s turn and shot.
This was followed by a moment of controversy when the visitors were denied a penalty. Steve Seddon appeared to receive a kick from former Blues defender Wes Harding inside the area, however, the appeals were dismissed by referee Tim Robinson.
And the sense of injustice was almost heightened when a low Lewis Wing cross was nearly turned in midway through the first-half by Shaun MacDonald.
Moments later, an even better chance went to waste for Paul Warne’s side as they launched a counter-attack. Having surged forward from defence, Richard Wood’s first-time effort thankfully went wide of the Blues goal.
These near misses alerted Bowyer’s side and they responded with a Gary Gardner free-kick that had the necessary direction but just needed to be a little lower in order to threaten Viktor Johansson’s net.
Seddon also tried his luck from distance with half an hour played. Although attempting to navigate his strike through a crowded final third proved almost impossible, with his shot bundling wide.
Half-time: Rotherham United 0 Blues 0
The second period started as frantically as the first, but the shoe was on the other foot with Rotherham threatening initially. After Gary Gardner cleared the ball off the line, a second phase saw Wing’s thumping goalbound effort bravely blocked by a combination of Dean and Kristian Pedersen.
Reacting to the close scares, Blues had a series of half-chances whilst there was a booking for Michael Ihiekwe whose deliberate handball denied Jonathan Leko from getting in behind once again.
Predictably, the game’s intensity started to diminish and as Rotherham tired Blues upped their efforts to find a winner. Both Leko and recent introduction Ivan Sanchez had attempts on goal blocked before Seddon volleyed over a half-cleared corner.
Bowyer’s men went even closer with a quarter of an hour remaining and Johannson did well to push Jutkiewicz’ towering far-post header behind from a clipped Colin delivery.
Then, as time was seemingly running out, Blues dramatically broke the deadlock with just two minutes remaining of normal time.
A threat from his long-throws all afternoon, this time Marc Roberts tried his luck with a cross and an inviting delivery - after being guided on by Pedersen - was met courageously by Dean whose header found the top corner.
This sparked wild celebrations from the captain before he swiftly composed himself and rallied his teammates to see off six minutes of added time for a massive win.
It's heart-break for the Millers late on at the New York Stadium! Can the hosts respond in what remains?!— Sky Sports Football (@SkyFootball) April 18, 2021
Watch Rotherham vs Birmingham live on Sky Sports Football 📺 pic.twitter.com/7v353o9dXD
Lesser teams might have settled for a point - not Blues. They kept on until the bitter end and were duly rewarded when Dean delivered with a captain’s goal.
The draw means Blues have 48 points from their 42 Championship matches.
Rotherham United (5-3-2): Viktor Johansson, Wes Harding, Michael Ihiekwe, Richard Wood (captain), Angus MacDonald, Clark Robertson (Jamie Lindsay 81), Matt Crooks, Shaun MacDonald (Ben Wiles 81), Lewis Wing, Freddie Ladapo (George Hirst 80), Michael Smith.
Substitutes not used: Jamal Blackman, Chiedozie Ogbene, Kieran Sadlier, Matt Olosunde, Dan Barlaser, Ryan Giles.
Booking: Ihiekwe 57, Wood 67.
Blues (3-5-2): Neil Etheridge, Marc Roberts, Harlee Dean (captain), Kristian Pedersen, Maxime Colin, Gary Gardner (Rekeem Harper 90), Ivan Sunjic, Riley McGree (Ivan Sanchez 71), Steve Seddon (George Friend 90), Jonathan Leko (Scott Hogan 90), Lukas Jutkiewicz (Sam Cosgrove 90).
Substitutes not used: Andres Prieto, Mikel San José, Jeremie Bela, Amari Miller.
Referee: T. Robinson.
Blues return to B9 for a midweek clash with Nottingham Forest on Wednesday night. They are then back on the road with a trip across the Midlands to face the Reds’ fierce rivals in Derby County next Saturday.