Rotherham 4 City 1

This felt ten times worse than Blackpool.

City may have had twice as many shots as Rotherham. Yes, there might have been a ten-minute period straight after Omar Daley's stunning equaliser when the only winner looked to be the team in blue.

And David Wetherall had a point when he said the three-goal margin did not tell the story.

Dress it up however you like but the Bantams were dumped 4-1 by a side that had not won for three months; a side that had lost their previous four games; a side that had collected only one point from the last possible 27.

Those were the depressing facts to come out of Millmoor as City dropped below the dreaded relegation line for the first time. Bournemouth overhauled them with a surprise win over Doncaster and the Bantams could have no complaints.

They had equalled their heaviest defeat of the season - and, let's face it, Rotherham are no Blackpool.

On an afternoon that everyone had earmarked as the start of the survival push, too many players forgot to turn up. Defensively, in particular, where City were woeful.

Inevitably fingers will be pointed, however reluctantly, at Wetherall for picking the wrong back four. In other words, leaving himself out of the equation.

Wetherall felt he was in no position to play after another draining week trying to combine both jobs. The fact that he was still in negotiations with a possible signing late into Friday night was hardly the ideal preparation for such a big game.

But he is first and foremost a City player; and at a critical time like this, surely the first name on everybody's team-sheet.

Think Rotherham away; think Wetherall. It is his type of battleground where you have to stand tall and strong and take no prisoners.

Rotherham, even in their woeful current situation, have not changed. And after making their own switch at the top by axing Alan Knill on Thursday, there was always likely to be a new zest in their approach.

City's inexperienced backline could not handle it. John Swift, who got the nod over Craig Bentham to fill in at right back, looked understandably rusty; Ben Parker struggled again on the left and Simon Ainge, so impressive in the previous two games, had an afternoon he will want to banish.

It left Mark Bower as the senior man, trying vainly to plug the gaps that sprung up all over the place. Even he was not immune to moments of panic.

Oh for a Wetherall figure to calm everything down.

The fact that City, despite a very poor first half, still looked favourites at 1-1 shows how ordinary the home side are. Rotherham creaked under pressure just as much, with goalkeeper Gary Montgomery needing a nervous second grab at most efforts.

But it was a clanger from opposite number Donovan Ricketts that turned the game on its head.

City had clawed their way back from an horrendous start when Theo Streete's massive throw-in caught the visitors on their heels. Streete, whose booming deliveries created constant problems, launched the ball over Bower and into a hole where Parker should have been.

Instead it was Ian Henderson in acres of space, who delivered a low cross which was clumsily bundled home by Delroy Facey. No wonder the home fans went berserk - it was the first time in six games that Rotherham had scored the opening goal.

City's huge travelling support could scarcely believe it either, nor the rest of the half that followed as their side resorted to launching hopeful long balls for the valiant Billy Paynter to do something with. It looked like relegation material.

Joe Colbeck saw plenty of the ball but did little with it and was barely able to beat the first defender with his crosses. Eddie Johnson ran around a lot but mainly chasing lost causes.

At least Marc Bridge-Wilkinson had a bit of fight about him and forced a decent tip-over from Montgomery with a well-struck free-kick. But it was poor stuff and the stunned supporters must have spent the interval wondering which side was which.

City's long-awaited response finally arrived nine minutes into the second half. Daley, a bit-part player on the left, suddenly found room and the determination to attack it as he drifted inside before smashing a dipping 25-yarder past Montgomery.

What a way to open your City account and the ecstatic team-mates and fans sensed the platform for a storming comeback. Rotherham had been here before and home heads were beginning to droop.

Paynter had a "goal" ruled out for a push - the second he'd been denied - before Parker was sailing close to the wind after a nasty lunge at Streete. The Rotherham right back had just clattered Daley but Parker's instant retribution could have earned him a red instead of yellow card.

But the real punishment came from the free-kick. There looked no danger at all with the ball barely five yards over the halfway line as Woods curled the free-kick goalwards. Ricketts came for a routine catch but was caught out by the wind and somehow let it spill through his fingers, before watching agonisingly as the ball bounced gently into the bottom corner of the net.

Their rediscovered confidence now drained, the Bantams slipped into panic mode and Facey outmuscled Swift and Ainge to drill in the third goal via a post.

City pounded away at the other end but the inevitable holes appearing allowed Rotherham to break menacingly and Ricketts seemed to use the entire length of his body to somehow deny Henderson a fourth.

There was still time for the keeper's day to take another turn for the worse after a throw-in was worked to Woods, who gave Ricketts no chance with a stunning left-foot drive into the far corner.

City's luck in front of goal was summed up when they twice hit the bar in stoppage time - Bridge-Wilkinson with a free-kick and Johnson with the follow-up - but most of their fans had given up the ghost by then and headed for home.

The fear now is that they will have to come back to Millmoor next season. And not in this division.