Rotherham’s inevitable relegation from the Championship was confirmed on Friday night after they were beaten 1-0 by Plymouth.

The Millers would have had to win all of their six remaining games to have even moved level on points with 21st-placed Argyle by the end of the season – and that is before factoring in other results and their vastly inferior goal difference to any of the teams around them.

Their fate was sealed by Bali Mumba’s classy first-half strike, which ensured a return to League One after two seasons back in the second tier.

Leam Richardson’s Rotherham were relegated from the Sky Bet Championship

Rotherham remain bottom of the table with five games to play, 16 points behind Sheffield Wednesday in 23rd and an unassailable 19 from safety.

Plymouth, meanwhile, move up to 19th, four points clear of the relegation zone.

How Plymouth sealed Rotherham’s fate

It goes without saying that it was a big night at the New York. Only a win would keep Rotherham’s hopes of a survival miracle intact, while victory for Plymouth – who had sacked head coach Ian Foster on Easter Monday – would give their own hopes of retaining their place in the division new life.

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Plymouth Argyle chairman Simon Hallett jokingly appealed for managerial applications to be sent to the club secretary when being interviewed about the opening ahead of the Sky Bet Championship match at Rotherham

The visitors quickly began to show why it was they who had a genuine chance of staying up; Rotherham – who were restricted to long shots – survived a chaotic scramble in the box, before Hakeem Odoffin threw himself in the way of a low effort from Callum Wright, who headed a cross just wide of the post soon after.

Just after the half-hour, Plymouth edged into a valuable lead. Morgan Whittaker’s floated cross flew over the mistimed jump of Sebastian Revan to Mumba, who took a series of neat touches and fired past Viktor Johansson at his near post.

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Bali Mumba puts Plymouth Argyle ahead against Rotherham United after a fantastic assist from Morgan Whittaker

Plymouth tried to get into the groove after the break. Johansson got fingertips on a ferocious drive from Whittaker, before Callum Wright, Jordan Houghton and Cameron Humphreys hit shots straight at him.

At the other end, Rotherham came closest to levelling when Revan outmuscled Mumba on the right, cut inside and forced Michael Cooper to make his only real save of note throughout the entirety of the match.

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Rotherham United midfielder Ollie Rathbone believes relegation from the Sky Bet Championship is not due to a lack of effort from the players and claims that it’s been a difficult year for everyone associated with the club

Argyle should, arguably, have put the game completely to bed late on. Johansson saved from Dan Scarr, before the post denied Ben Waine a split-second later, and the goalkeeper later sent another shot from Waine around the post. But with no real threat from the hosts, before long, three vital points were in the bag.

Richardson: A bitter pill to swallow

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Speaking after relegation to Sky Bet League One was confirmed, Rotherham manager Leam Richardson admits the Championship has been a tough challenge for his side this season but suggests the club will be stronger going forward next season

Rotherham head coach Leam Richardson told Sky Sports:

“It’s very, very disappointing. As I’ve said in previous interviews, you feel straight away for the fans. In my view, in competitive sport, your habits always catch up to your performances and from pre-season, from the first game onwards, this club has been chasing its tail a little bit and the writing has been on the wall for some time. It was just a matter of when and if.

“It’s a tough pill to swallow right now, but we’ve been there before and we’ve always come back stronger. It’s important we come together in many forms, in many departments around the football club.

“Having to run with probably 64 per cent of the availability of the squad for a large part of the time I’ve been here in the Championship, as competitive as it is, is a tough challenge.

“As a manager, you always want to leave the place better than when you found it. You always try and control the controllables, but there have been many things out of my control which I’m trying to take control of to move forward and be proactive.

“I spoke to the chairman within two weeks of getting the job to give my views and there’s nothing that hasn’t happened that we didn’t speak about. He’s very buoyant, he’s got a plan for the football club and going forward together, I’m sure we’ll be stronger.”

Nancekivell: We’re delighted, but it’s only three points

Plymouth first-team coach Kevin Nancekivell told Sky Sports:

“We just wanted to take a little bit of the pressure off the players so they could go and be themselves and enjoy it. They did in parts; I thought we had to defend and got a bit nervous at times, but that’s to be understood so we’re really delighted to get the three points.

“It’s three massive points, we can’t hide from that, but it is only three points. We’ve still got a lot to do, so we’ll look forward to Tuesday now, with a little bit of a spring in our step against QPR and hopefully we can repeat it. We’ll get back to work on Sunday and crack on at QPR.

“It’s always traumatic when a manager loses his job and the players, staff and the whole club feel that. We have to move on. The perfect response today was what we got, so we look forwards now, not backwards.”

What’s next?

Plymouth are back in action at 7.45pm on Tuesday April 9, when they face fellow strugglers QPR at Home Park.

Rotherham return the following night, when they travel to The Hawthorns to take on West Brom at 8pm.

Both matches will be available to watch live on Sky Sports Football Red Button.

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