A drone, a dream and a night that will never be forgotten ... the story of Rotherham United 3 Sheffield Wednesday 0

A drone, a dream and a night that will never be forgotten ... the story of Rotherham United 3 Sheffield Wednesday 0

By Paul Davis | 29/10/2020

A drone, a dream and a night that will never be forgotten ... the story of Rotherham United 3 Sheffield Wednesday 0
Millers goal joy. Pictures by Dave Poucher

EMPTY seats on a night filled with magic.

It didn't feel right. It just didn't feel right.

But everything else did.

Rotherham United didn't just beat Sheffield Wednesday, they beat them for the first time in a home league match since 1976.

The Millers didn't just mug the Owls, they mugged them by their biggest ever margin.

How the North Stand would have rocked with red and white, how the East and West Stands  would have rolled with derby delight had the coronavirus pandemic not put a lock on the AESSEAL New York Stadium doors.

This Championship match, this famous victory, this moment of history deserved a full house, not 11,500 uninhabited spaces.

"It feels like a win but it doesn't as well, if you know what I mean," said manager Paul Warne, reflecting on how his players would have been feted at the final whistle.

Jamie Lindsay heads Rotherham in front

"With a crowd, the lads would have a real connection with the fans when they left the pitch and would have sort of felt like heroes. I asked them to play like warriors for the whole game and they did."

Harold Wilson was in the process of resigning as Prime Minister and Concorde had just taken its first commercial flight the last time the visitors from S6 tasted league defeat on Rotherham soil.

Last night's result will be remembered in Millers circles forever and a grinning Warne, trying to remain as statesmanlike as Wilson but utterly failing, mused about some extra commemoration for himself.

"If they haven't started the statue, it is getting beyond a joke," he said. "I don't know what more we can do apart from get us in the Champions League.

"I have written a letter to get all my staff and players a collective statue with me just a little bit higher. I have spoken to the chairman. What more can I do?"

THE MATCH

A potentially dangerous presence in the air stopped play early on.

No, this wasn't captain Richard Wood going down and feeling his dodgy glute, this was a drone.

It was spotted in the black sky above New York and back to the changing rooms the players went for a short while with only four minutes and 15 minutes on the clock.

How the Owls must have wished they could have stayed there as they fell behind within seconds of the resumption, had a man sent off when they gave away a penalty and found themselves 3-0 down and dead and buried before the break.

"The referee came over to the fourth official and I thought it was one of those comms issues. They love a comms issue, don't they?" Warne said.

"They said it was a drone. My eyes must be like pickled onions because I couldn't see one. If you can afford to buy a drone to watch the game, you can definitely afford the £10 to watch on iFollow. Drones aren't cheap.

Drone stops play

"We came back into the dressing room and I said to the lads: 'Well done. We've kept a clean sheet for four minutes. If we keep that up we will have at least a point.' I had a bit of comedy with them. After that, the first goal came quite soon and the night went quite well."

Jamie Lindsay headed Rotherham in front when a block on Freddie Ladapo sent the ball spinning into the air before Jamal Blackman saved from Jack Marriott and Cameron Dawson palmed away Joe Mattock's curling free-kick.

Wednesday, who lost centre-half Aden Flint to injury after 17 minutes, couldn't handle the pace of the Millers' attacks and the home side doubled their advantage on 40 minutes.

Florian Jozefzoon was too quick for Tom Lees, left in desperate trouble by Dawson's ill-judged dash from his net, and the defender's challenge brought a red card and a spot-kick.

Up stepped Dan Barlaser and there was never any doubt. Dan the man doesn't miss from 12 yards.

Warne was a mix of satisfaction and longing for normal times: "It was just a surreal night. It was sad that the fans, including my own family and friends, couldn't be here."

Barlaser had a hand in the third goal, on the stroke of half-time, his well-struck shot being parried by Dawson into the path of Lindsay who pounced for the first double of his career.

Rotherham, who moved up to 17th spot, were in cruise control throughout the second half and substitutes Michael Smith and George Hirst, playing against the boyhood club he left on such bad terms, would have rubbed salt into the visitors' wounds without sharp Dawson interventions.

"Funnily enough, I I thought we played better on Saturday when we lost at Reading, which shows how strange football is," Warne said.

"I asked the lads to give everything physically and to play on the front foot. It's high risk because Wednesday break the press and have very good players.

"Barry Bannan was causing us problems and switching the play. Jamie's job was to man-mark Bannan so for him to leave him and get in the box and score the looping header was good.

"Before the game, I told the lads: 'The harder you work, the more luck you get.' Flo coming in off the right wing and chasing that lost cause to win the penalty was an example of that.

"The sending-off wasn't the end of the game but it we were obviously in the ascendancy after that. We got what we deserved. I thought we were the better team. All in all, it was a good night's work."

Joy for the Millers at the 13th attempt, a nightmare for the Owls. And to think Carlos once had a drone.

NO SUPPORTERS

Wood trooped from the field obviously tired in body and mind.

The exertion was written in sweat all over his rugged face, but so was the elation as he dredged up a huge, exhausted smile that bridged 44 years of hurt.

Warne, as is customary, headed on to the pitch to acknowledge the players from both sides. On this occasion, there was a little more bite in the hugs and embraces for his own men than usual.

He'd said to them at the interval: "Manage the game, don't have an adrenaline surge and be in a rush to take anything. See you back in here in a bit and hopefully we are celebrating a win."

This day, this wait, this Toytown uprising, it all meant something.

Warne got to musing again about the scenes there might have been.

"When the final whistle goes, there are only about six people clapping," he said. "In that respect, it's quite sad. I hope in these desperate times that we've given the supporters who were watching at home a bit of sunshine."

A night touched with wonder was missing only one thing.

Fans.

Goals: Lindsay 6, 45, Barlaser pen 40 (Rotherham).

Rotherham (4-2-3-1): Jamal Blackman; Wes Harding, Michael Ihiekwe, Richard Wood, Joe Mattock; Dan Barlaser (Michael Smith 65), Jamie Lindsay; Florian Jozefzoon, Ben Wiles, Mickel Miller (Shaun MacDonald 82); Freddie Ladapo (George Hirst 72). Subs not used: Viktor Johansson, Billy Jones, Matt Crooks, Kieran Sadlier.

Wednesday (3-5-2): Cameron Dawson; Tom Lees, Aden Flint (Liam Palmer 17), Julian Borner; Moses Odubajo, Fisayo Dele-Bashiru, Joey Pelupessy, Barry Bannan, Kadeem Harris; Calum Paterson (Josh Windass 57), Jack Marriott (Adam Reach 71). Subs not used: Joe Wildsmith, Jordan Rhodes, Alex Hunt, Elias Kachunga.

Referee: Jarred Gillett (Merseyside).




Spotted something we should know about?

Call our Newsdesk on 01709 803562
Or email newsdesk@rotherhamadvertiser.co.uk
Message us on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/TheRotherhamAdvertiser/