Steve Evans made a winning first return to the Broadfield as his Rotherham Utd side claimed their first win in League One to inflict a first league defeat of the season on former club Crawley Town.
Mat Sadler had given Reds the lead from a free-kick but the Millers fought back to level through Kieran Agard before substitute and Crawley summer target David Worrall came off the bench to grab the winner and hand Evans’ side a 2-1 win.
It was a well-deserved first three points for Rotherham since promotion last year; they created plenty of good chances throughout while some of the Crawley defending, particularly for the second goal was again questionable.
Reds boss Barker made one change from the draw at Tranmere, Kyle McFadzean in for top-scorer Joe Walsh at centre back, while for the Millers, goalkeeper Scott Shearer and Matt Tubbs started against their former club. Claude Davis was a substitute.
It was the visitors who made the early running, the home defence having to deal with a spray of balls into the box from both flanks.
Crawley it was though who went ahead on 14 minutes, Sadler’s in-swinging free-kick from wide on the right was missed by everyone, including goalkeeper Shearer as it bounced up into the far corner.
Millers midfielder Agard then completely missed his header when picked out by Pringle on the right. They came even closer to equalising a minute later when home goalkeeper Paul Jones could only punch a cross into the path of Michael O’Connor, whose volley looked destined for the far corner before Mat Sadler managed to clear behind with his head.
Crawley striker Jamie Proctor headed a Mike Jones cross over, while away striker Alex Revell wasn’t far wide of the far post with a header from an in-swinging Pringle free kick.
Rotherham did deservedly equalise in the 35th minute when Kari Arnason headed a corner back across goal and Agard was on hand to nod in from the centre of the box.
Reds were handed a good chance to instantly respond with a free kick only 18 yards out, though a clever move saw Billy Clarke swivel but strike the wall, and then Nicky Adams wriggled his way into the box but couldn’t beat Shearer at his near post. And the little flurry of home chances ended with Jamie Proctor scissor-kicking wide when the corner came in at the second attempt.
Rotherham finished the half the stronger and straight at the other end Agard should have doubled his and Rotherham’s tally but swept a Pringle cross spinning over the bar.
Pringle’s superb deliveries from the left were the source of most of the visitors’ openings, and his latest picked out Revell, who should have put Evans’s side ahead at the break but his weak header from point-blank range was saved by Jones.
Thus far it wasn’t turning into Tubbs’s day, a ball played just too far in front of him early in the second half by strike partner Revell which could have played him in summing up his afternoon. Meanwhile Frecklington’s shot through a crowd of bodies had Paul Jones scrambling across his goal but skipped just wide.
Reds enjoyed a good spell of possession without testing Shearer before a quick break saw his opposite number Paul Jones pull off a fine one-handed save to deny Pringle.
Tubbs was withdrawn with 20 minutes to go and though he didn’t mark his return with a goal he received warm applause from the home faithful in recognition of the 49 goals he scored in Crawley colours.
Tubbs’ replacement Worrall - who Crawley came close to signing over the summer - took only six minutes to make his mark, slamming home a fine low shot after Reds had passed up at least two chances to clear, James Hurst and Mark Connolly both failing to properly clear with headers.
Nicky Adams flashed a cross/shot across the face of goal as Reds looked to get something from the game and in the final minute Revell thought he had wrapped up the points for Rotherham but his goal from Pringle’s pass was ruled out for offside.
In the end it was a well-deserved three points for Rotherham and Evans, who was given warm applause by the home fans for what he achieved in five years at the Crawley helm.
Crawley: Paul Jones, James Hurst, Mat Sadler, Mark Connolly, Kyle McFadzean, Billy Clarke, Andy Drury (Rooney 80), Josh Simpson, Nicky Adams, Mike Jones, Jamie Proctor (Alexander 68).
Subs: Connor Essam, Sergio Torres, Gary Alexander, Joe Walsh, Dannie Bulman, Luke Rooney, Jonny Maddison.
Rotherham: Scott Shearer, Joe Skarz, Kari Arnason, Lee Frecklington, Alex Revell, Michael O’Connor (Milsom 84), Mark Bradley, Matt Tubbs (Worrall 70), Ben Pringle, Craig Morgan, Kieran Agard (Michael Tidser 89).
Subs: Richard Brindley, Claude Davis, David Worrall, Rob Milsom, Daniel Nardiello, Adam Collin, Michael Tidser.