Sunday, March 18, 2018

Armchair Fan Blog - Rotherham United (A) (Capital One Cup)

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Matt Savage returns for a midweek special, this time tackling the Owls' trip to our Toytown neighbours for what turned out to be a bit of a wasted journey. Take it away, Matt...

Rotherham manager Steve Evans.
Ground: New York Stadium, Rotherham
Attendance: 11,433

The first round of the Capital One Cup serves up a Yorkshire derby at Rotherham Uniteds new stadium, the New York Stadium. The recently promoted Millers have strengthened in the summer with signings such as the 6 month loan of Matt Tubbs, Michael Tidser from Morton and former Fulham full-back Rob Milsom joining the League One side. Both teams were buoyed by the performance in their opening league fixtures with the Millers coming from 1-3 down to draw 3-3 with Crewe whilst Wednesday were somewhat unfortunate to lose 2-1 to QPR.

Rotherham United take the lead at the NY Stadium.
With a faulty turnstile and a sell-out allocation of Wednesday fans entering the stadium, congestion led to a delayed kick-off, forcing the match back 15 minutes and the atmosphere intensified for the start of the game. New signing Atdhi Nuhiu creates the first chance of the game when his shot drifts wide on the 4th minute and that was soon followed by a Michail Antonio effort that also fails to test the home keeper. A 7th minute David Prutton foul on Lee Frecklington warms the home crowd up who make their feelings known towards their Yorkshire 'rivals'. On the 9th minute though, the Millers are celebrating the opening goal, a left-footed Ben Pringle half-volley flies past the Wednesday keeper and nestles into the net, a brilliant strike by the former Derby man. The home side were controlling the ball much better than their neighbours as an upset was now on the cards. With a jubilant crowd behind them the Millers then went close to a second, Frecklington scaring Chris Kirkland as his 10th minute effort crept wide of the former England keepers post. Wednesday were forced into handing a debut to new signing Rafael Floro with the injured duo of Reda Johnson and Joe Mattock unable to recover in time and the young Portuguese defender was being kept on his toes by the Rotherham midfield, coming out on top when he clears a channelled ball on the 12th minute. Moments later though the unrelenting pressure from the hosts force Kirkland into another save, this time denying Craig Morgan with a headed shot at goal. A Michael O'Connor free-kick is aptly cleared by Wednesday captain Anthony Gardner as Wednesday struggle with the free-flowing Rotherham attacks. Floro concedes a 15th minute free-kick for handball and the resulting Pringle set-piece is headed inches wide by Kari Arnason. The home fans are on their feet, acknowledging their sides effort and are nearly rewarded with a second goal - first Floro and then Kamil Zayatte do well to deal with Pringle crosses into the box. On the 21st minute a challenge by Kieran Agard on Jacques Maghoma sees the former Yeovil striker enter the book and receive a yellow card. Rhys McCabe stands over the ball and strikes a wonderful free-kick that deceives the wall and goalkeeper Scott Shearer - equalising and sending the travelling Owls into celebration. Just 2 minutes later and McCabe is lining up another free-kick when Craig Morgan fouls Jeremy Helan - fortunately for the Millers though, the ball hits the wall and is eventually cleared. When Joe Skarz upends Maghoma, McCabe is again first in-line to take a shot at goal - again hitting the defensive wall as Wednesday creep back into the game. Former Hull City defender Zayatte then almost turns the game on its head when his header flies wide of the goal on the 26th minute. The flow of the game is then interrupted as free-kicks are awarded to both sides with fouls by Alex Revell, Nuhiu, and Skarz before O'Connor fires a tame effort wide. When Gardner clears two Skarz crosses it looks like the Wednesday back-line have shut up shop - only for Frecklington to let fly with a 20 yard strike that flies past the helpless Kirkland and rattling into the back of the net! Millers fans erupt as Owls fans put their heads in their hands, 37 minutes in and Rotherham lead 2-1 against their higher-league opposition. Maghoma fails to equalise minutes later when Shearer catches the strike at goal with relative ease before Skarz fouls the advancing Antonio and enters the referee's book - earning a yellow card in the process. McCabe whips in a cross from the free-kick only for Agard to reach it first and clear the danger. A Pringle foul on Helan stops any chance of a Wednesday counter attack but its Rotherham who end the half with yet another chance - Kirkland parrying away an Arnason header at goal before the referee blows for half time.

Rotherham celebrate a 'famous win'.
HT REVIEW: Well, that was certainly unexpected! The home side have dominated in the majority of that half, playing some good attacking football that Wednesday just can't deal with. The crosses being sent in are all testing ones that are worrying the back-line no end. On an attacking front the Owls just haven't got going. The pacey threat of Antonio, Helan and Maghoma is being well marshalled by the Millers and another 45 minutes of that and there will be some very jubilant fans wearing red come full-time! I expect a Dave Jones onslaught in the dressing room. A half time snack of a handful of pistachio nuts and I'm ready for what I hope is a better second half.

The Millers are quick out of the blocks and Zayatte is forced into an early clearance before being fouled by Tubbs. Moments later and an Agard cross is dealt with by the back line and the resulting in-swinging corner by Pringle is well cleared. Wednesday have an early chance themselves when Arnason fouls Antonio but McCabe see's his free-kick delivery cleared by the fouling Swedish midfielder. The 51st minute brings a change in the visiting attack, the flagging Nuhiu replaced by Gary Madine who hopes to get his season underway. In an end-to-end couple of minutes both teams see corner kicks defended well and the momentum comes to a crashing halt when a counter attack by the home side is stopped with a Helan push in the back to Frecklington, earning the Wednesday player a yellow card. Just before the hour mark Maghoma is replaced by Jermaine Johnson before Morgan again fouls Antonio, giving McCabe another chance at goal. The Scotsman fires his free-kick over the wall this time but also clears the bar in a disappointing effort. A Pringle cross is defended well by Gardner before the resulting corner is seen away by former Porto fullback Floro in the 61st minute. The Millers are firmly on top in this game and crosses by Pringle, O'Connor and Tubbs all spell trouble for the Owls but are somehow denied a third decisive goal each time, as are Wednesday when Floro advances and lashes a shot skyward. On the 69th minute Dave Jones makes another change that sees Chris Maguire enter the action in replacement of Floro before a missed Madine shot allows Rotherham to replace Frecklington with Michael Tidser minutes later. Skarz does well to clear a McCabe corner in the 74th minute before Liam Palmer tests Shearer with a shot that the keeper saves easily. 2 minutes later sees Tubbs receive a booking before a moment of madness by J.Johnson gives the referee no option but to send off the winger for a head-butt on Pringle out wide. The home fans are now in full voice (see here) stating their hatred for their opposition, seemingly forgetting the full returned collection buckets that helped keep their club in existence a short while ago! Against 10 men and with a deserved 2-1 lead, the home side control the midfield with ease and they almost make it 3-1 when Tubbs' header is saved by Kirkland. A 79th minute cross into the box sees Madine head agonisingly wide before Tubbs is replaced by David Worrall in an attempt to see the game out. Wednesday again see another chance to equalise go begging when Madine has a half-chance saved by Shearer in goal on the 83rd minute. Arnason is having a good game and twice deals with McCabe's corners in the dying minutes before Shearer claims a cross well from the former Rangers midfielder. An 87th minute yellow card is flashed to Antonio when he upends Morgan before Madine fires a weak shot over the crossbar as Wednesday try in vain to force extra-time. The Millers replace Agard with David Noble on the 90th minute and after an uneventful 5 minutes of added-time the referee brings this Yorkshire derby to a close, resulting in a famous win for Rotherham United.

Jermaine Johnson sees red.
Statistics: (home / away)
Shots: 8 / 13
On target: 5 / 4
Corners: 4 / 5
Fouls: 13 / 12
Possession: 47% / 53%

FT REVIEW: Abysmal result and performance. People will say 'its only the cup' but it was a near full-strength Wednesday side against a team that was playing League Two football last season. We were outplayed for 90% of the match and never looked like scoring from open play. That being said, Rotherham played very well and were up for the match from the opening whistle. They played some good possession football and hit us attack after attack. Taking nothing away from the Millers they deserved the win and I don't think there'll be a single Wednesday fan/player that thinks otherwise.

Owls Man of the Match: Chris Kirkland.

Managers reaction:
Dave Jones: "You can't head-butt somebody he's done it before and its not acceptable for this football club. He's been told I can't defend it - and neither can JJ. We're trying to get back into the game, its hard enough with 11 men and going down to 10 makes it more difficult. he'll be punished and rightly so - because I lose him for three games."

Steve Evans: "It was a great win for us against a great football club. We always believed we could win but we knew we would have to play well. We did our homework and we had a game-plan. We have talented players and scored with two great strikes. It was a magnificent cup-tie and it was a great achievement for this football club to win at home for the first time against Sheffield Wednesday for 37 years."  
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