By Tony Leighton
Rotherham United head to Torquay United on Tuesday evening seeking a victory that could lift them back into the npower League 2 Play-Off places and revive their challenge for automatic promotion.
Two months ago the Millers were just one point below the top three, but they have slipped down the table in a nine-match run that has brought five defeats and just 12 points from a possible 27.
They have at least one game in hand on all of the teams above them, however, and three in hand on third-placed Burton Albion, where they lost 2-0 on Saturday to fall four points below the Brewers.
Having two players sent off at the Pirelli Stadium did not help the Millers' cause, but bouncing back from an unhappy afternoon with a return to winning ways at Plainmoor can re-kindle promotion-chasing fire says captain Johnny Mullins.
"We're hurting after Saturday," Mullins told football.co.uk, "but we're sticking closely together as a squad and we'll come off the defeat at Burton in the only way we know how - and that's positively.
"We'll be going down to Torquay aiming to get a win that can hopefully get us back to playing with the sort of consistency that we're going to need if we're going to win promotion this season.
"With 17 games left automatic promotion is still there for us. If we win the matches we need to we'll be where we want to be, but that's easier said than done and the games we've got in hand will be no good to us unless we win them.
"So consistency is the key and we have to start putting a good run together. It's going to be difficult at Torquay, who are a good side who'll be aiming to bounce back from defeat themselves, but it's vital that we pick up points."
Central defender Mullins is determined to lead the Millers to League 1 after returning to the club in November from a loan spell at Oxford United and subsequently being handed the captain's armband.
His return was welcomed wholeheartedly by supporters and the 27-year-old defender, who originally joined the club from Stockport County in July 2010, added: "I'm delighted to be back and honoured to be captain.
"I'm 100 per cent Rotherham and I want to captain a promotion wining team here. I can't think of anything better. If you fast-forward to the summer and we've gone up, it would be brilliant - but there are lots of tough games to come."
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