Blackburn Rovers can begin to breathe easily. It has been some year for Gary Bowyer's side but victory over Millwall at the fourth time of asking this season, thanks to Jordan Rhodes's controversial penalty late on, lifted them five points clear of the Championship's relegation places with two matches remaining.
Millwall, though, have been dragged back into the dogfight and have a right to feel aggrieved after Grant Hanley went down softly inside the area under the challenge of Danny Shittu with a quarter of an hour remaining. Hanley had galloped 60 yards to reach that point but seemed to stumble over himself rather than the challenge of his opponent – Shittu's objections to the referee, Gavin Ward, earned him a yellow card and a further booking followed after the final whistle to ensure he faces a one-match ban.
Kenny Jackett, the Millwall manager, said afrterwards: "It did look a soft decision. In my opinion the referee got the assessment wrong. It didn't look like there was any contact, so it was a harsh decision, I felt. Danny's very upset. I have to back my player. He's a very passionate man ... he felt very passionately that there was no contact.
"But he [Hanley] shouldn't power through like that from one end to the other. With the games running out I thought that would be a good point. Unfortunately the decision has cost us."
Bowyer, however, felt the referee's call was correct. "From where I was stood I jumped up because I thought it was a penalty," he said. "You get some and you don't get some. I thought it was a penalty from where I was stood."
This seemed a world apart from the goalless FA Cup draw here a month ago in the biting cold. On a balmy evening in south London Millwall's dominance over Blackburn this season finally ended.
They did take the lead, though, thanks to an impressive finish from the centre-half Karleigh Osborne. James Henry drifted in a fine cross to the far post from a free-kick down the right and a header by Mark Beevers across goal was steered in by Osborne past the Blackburn goalkeeper, Grzegorz Sandomierski.
David Jones forced a fine save from David Forde in first-half injury time, arcing a shot towards the top corner from 25 yards out, and again tested the Millwall goalkeeper with a low effort early in the second half.
He did not have to wait long before finding the net but, when the equaliser arrived, it came in bizarre circumstances. Millwall went to sleep in the 56th minute and Jones's corner from the right went straight in, somehow evading Rob Hulse at the near post. Hulse was substituted by Jackett shortly afterwards and was roundly booed by the home supporters as he trudged to the touchline.
It was the kind of gift teams in a relegation scrap rarely receive and Blackburn looked to take full advantage straight away. But they were denied the lead when Forde got down low to palm David Goodwillie's shot behind.
Then came Hanley's marvellous long run and the 26th goal of the season for Rhodes, who drilled the ball low into the net, sending Forde the wrong way and Blackburn's 240 travelling fans into joyous celebrations.
"We should be talking about our second-half performance," said Bowyer. "It's a hostile place to come to and they put us under enormous pressure. We struggled to cope with it for 20 to 25 minutes.
"I know the incident will be the talking point but it should be how brave our players were in the second half. We're not safe. It's crazy we've got 56 points and we're not safe. We've got to regroup and prepare properly against Crystal Palace on Saturday. It's been a very long and hard season for the supporters. We'd like to get over the line then if we can."
Bowyer, understandably, may be erring on the side of caution. But after a torrid campaign of ups and downs Blackburn know one more win will put this season finally to bed.