THERE was little Christmas cheer at Gigg Lane on Boxing Day as Chris Lucketti admitted he "laid into" his players for the first time.

After just over a month in charge, the former Bury centre-half finally had his first home game as manager.

Captain Stephen Dawson also came in for his first start since August but Lucketti's homecoming didn't go anything like he or the home fans hoped.

While Bury were unfortunate to lose 3-0 at Peterborough, the same cannot be said after they slumped to a third straight loss.

Although the Shakers looked the better side until Eoghan O'Connell was sent off on Saturday, they were woeful from the outset against Rotherham.

Poor defending gifted David Ball a fifth-minute opener before the Millers doubled their lead on 10 minutes through a free header by captain Lee Frecklington.

And although Bury improved slightly after the break, a superb strike by Will Vaulks on 83 minutes left the Shakers nine points from safety at the bottom of League One.

“The first half was totally unacceptable,” said Lucketti. “The fans were having a go at the players and rightly so. I'm fully supportive of that and I told the players that in no uncertain terms at half-time.

“A lack of effort, lack of commitment and lack of desire was apparent for all to see, and you can see why the club is where it is so far this season.

“I laid into them at half-time and we saw a reaction second half, it was a totally different performance. But it was too late.”

O'Connell was suspended and Lucketti made two other changes, with Dawson, Tom Aldred and fellow centre-half Alex Whitmore coming into the starting line-up.

And the Bury defence took time to settle as twice in quick succession they struggled to deal with crosses into the box.

The first time they failed to clear twice before conceding a corner. The second time Aldred could only clear Ryan Williams' cut-back as far as Ball, who took a touch before curling inside the far post from 12 yards.

With Chris Maguire having dropped to the bench, it was Rohan Ince who played behind lone striker Nicky Ajose but they struggled to link up, with Ajose dragging a shot well wide from his only chance of the half.

The visitors then won another corner and Anthony Forde's delivery found Frecklington unmarked in the centre of the box, from where the Rotherham midfielder headed inside the far post.

Williams' low strike was then turned wide by Leo Fasan and Aldred's tame header was the best Bury could muster from the rest of the half.

With Lucketti's words no doubt ringing in their ears, the Shakers showed far more urgency and intent at the start of the second half with Dawson having swapped positions with Ince.

Jay O'Shea was deployed at right midfield and twice fired wide, after linking up with Dawson and then from a quickly-taken corner by Phil Edwards.

Dawson and Danny Mayor, who has also just returned from injury, applied themselves far more than any other Bury players and Mayor also went close, firing wide from just outside the box.

But Vaulks showed him how it is done as the Millers made it 10 points from 12 to go eighth in League One. The midfielder, who actually started the game at centre-half, shrugged off Ince before firing high past Fasan from just outside the corner of the box.

Lucketti added: “The first two goals were avoidable but we're saying that every week – and I'm sure it was said before I came in.

“You've got to do the basics right and we're not doing that in terms of defending our box. We also need to be more clinical because we did make some opportunities in the second half.

“The next game can't come quick enough and Saturday will be at opportunity to move on from this.”