“IT'S happened again, it's happened again. Rotherham United, it's happened again.”
The taunts rang out at AESSEAL New York Stadium from the away end as the Millers succumbed in the dying seconds at home to South Yorkshire rivals Sheffield Wednesday for the second derby in succession.
Last season, in the Championship, the Owls scored in the tenth minute of eight originally added on to salvage a 2-2 draw
This time, a Carabao Cup tie was in the sixth minute of five original extras when Atdhe Nuhiu struck from close range to send his team into the third-round draw.
“It's tough to take,” said manager Paul Warne. “We could have played a different formation, but our intention was to go out and attack and win the game. They had a strong team out.
“Unfortunately, we're on the wrong end of a last-minute winner against them again. It's disappointing.
“There was a mix-up between the ref and Matt (Olosunde). The ref asked him to leave the field of the play and where the goal went in is where he would have been. It adds a bit of salt to the wound.
“I'm not saying he would have stopped it but he might have done.”
Rotherham, now in League One, had deserved to take the contest to penalties and defeat hurt. But nowhere near as much as it did back in February for this was a bragging-rights duel that seemed to lack the intensity and importance of previous encounters between the two teams.
Empty seats? For a derby? A Wednesday derby? There were only 8,679 spectators in the stadium and more than 2,600 of them were from S6.
It wasn't like that in Ben Pringle's day.
Back in 2013, the last time the Millers and Owls clashed in this competition, a New York full house roared Rotherham to a 2-1 success and the ginger-haired winger memorably scored the club's Goal of the Season.
A shoot-out would have been a fair outcome in 2019 but Nuhiu, one of only two Owls survivors from the clash six years ago, had other ideas.
The Millers, who have no players from back then still with them, will rue Freddie Ladapo missing the chance of the game just before half-time
“Overall, I thought the two teams went for it,” Warne said. “It was a good game of football. With a bit of luck on our side we might have won tonight but it wasn't meant to be.
“There's nothing I can do. There's another game in a couple of days. We'll be back in in the morning, go through the game with the lads and then prepare for Tranmere.
“Taking the game to the opposition is the only way we play. It might leave us a little bit open at times. But we limited them to very few chances in open play.”
The first sight of goal came after only 21 seconds as Joey Pelupessy fired wide for the visitors.
Rotherham responded within three minutes, with Ben Wiles' header from Clark Robertson's high, looping cross bringing a save from Cameron Dawson.
They weren't far away from an opener in the 11th minute when Dan Barlaser's low corner caught out the Owls and Ladapo smacked a shot just off target.
Nuhui's tame header from Dominic Iorfa's cross gave Daniel Iversen an easy save, but it was the Millers who had the better of the opening period.
Wiles mishit a volley from Ladapo's set-up and Matt Crooks will want to forget a bending effort that was hopefully hit and hopelessly astray.
Iversen had no problem holding on to a Jordan Rhodes' 41st-minute header before Ladapo spurned the most inviting opportunity of the match, prodding wide when Michael Smith's flick-on had played him clean through on goal.
Smith, who Wednesday were finding hard to handle, had a go himself on the stroke of half-time and his thumping shot forced a fine, full-length save from Dawson.
“The lads gave me everything they had,” Warne said. “They 'jaded' a bit towards the end and that was to do with not having a game for ten days. We weren't as good in the second half.”
Lightning has now struck three times because Wednesday also won, 3-2, at New York deep into stoppage time in March 2015.
Smith came close again soon after the restart, just failing to connect right in front of goal with Crooks’ vicious, low centre from the right.
Iversen rescued the Millers' in the 56th minute, spreading himself to deny Nuhiu, then Rotherham watched in trepidation as Wednesday hit the post in a goalmouth scramble only for the offside flag to go up.
Watching no longer by then was wobbling, bare-chested Owls fan Tango, led out of the stadium by stewards who had the stomach to eject the hulking figure from the South Stand.
Wednesday had brought on heavyweight talent with their substitute artillery and the game was suddenly being played more in the Millers' half.
One of the replacements, Kadeem Harris, whipped in an 81st-minute cross that Morgan Fox headed just wide while another, Fernando Forestieri, fired over with the clock ticking down.
“I'd be lying if I said when Harris, Bannan and Forestieri came on I wasn't thinking 'Oh, here we go',” Warne added.
“On the whole, I thought we defended really well. I don't know what I've done in a previous life, but the footballing gods certainly don't smile on me in the last minute against Wednesday.
“I thought our play at times merited a goal. I thought we controlled the game in the first half really well.”
Iversen held on to David Bates' shot in time added and then came Nuhiu's spirit-sapping intervention.
The Millers move on. They gave a decent account of themselves and Saturday's league fixture against Tranmere Rovers matters much, much more.
But the last minute. Again.
Empty seats. Empty feeling.
Goals: Nuhiu 90+6 (Wednesday).
Rotherham (4-3-3): Daniel Iversen; Matt Olosunde, Michael Ihiekwe, Richard Wood, Clark Robertson; Ben Wiles, Dan Barlaser (Shaun MacDonald 67), Matt Crooks (Jamie Lindsay 61); Michael Smith (Jamie Proctor 74), Kyle Vassell, Freddie Ladapo. Subs not used: Lewis Price, Adam Thompson, Jake Cooper, Joe Mattock.
Wednesday (4-2-1-3): Cameron Dawson; Dominic Iorfa, David Bates, Jordan Thorniley, Morgan Fox; Joey Pelupessy (Fernando Forestieri 76), Massimo Luongo; Sam Winnall (Kadeem Harris H-T); Jacob Murphy (Barry Bannan 66), Jordan Rhodes, Atdhe Nuhiu. Subs not used: Paul Jones, Tom Lees, Ash Baker, Conor Grant.
Referee: Charles Breakspear (Surrey).
Attendance: 8,679 (2,601).
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