Tom Eaves tells the story behind his Rotherham United penalty dispute with Jordan Hugill against Cardiff City

Tom Eaves converts the penalty for Rotherham United against Cardiff City. Picture: Jim BrailsfordTom Eaves converts the penalty for Rotherham United against Cardiff City. Picture: Jim Brailsford
Tom Eaves converts the penalty for Rotherham United against Cardiff City. Picture: Jim Brailsford
TOM Eaves has revealed why there was only ever going to be one winner in the battle of wills that ended in him scoring from the spot for Rotherham United on the final day of the season.

The Millers were awarded a penalty in the second half of their 5-2 Championship triumph over Cardiff City at AESSEAL New York Stadium and an argument ensued between the striker and teammate Jordan Hugill over who was going to take it.

Eaves had suffered in the past in similar situations when he was at other clubs and had vowed to never come off second best again.

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“Do you know what, it actually goes back to something else,” the 32-year-old told the Advertiser.

“In my head, I should have done it a long time ago. There have been moments in my career where people have taken a penalty off me.”

The incident he was most referring to came in August 2019 when he was only five matches into his spell with Hull City and still seeking his first goal in Tigers colours.

“It happened to me in a game against Blackburn Rovers,” the frontman recalled. “(Jarrod) Bowen took it and missed and we lost 1-0.

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“I wish I had just pulled rank and taken it. It could have been a turning point for me. I just thought: ‘I'm never letting that happen to me again.’”

After the 57th-minute spat with Hugill in front of the North Stand, Eaves coolly beat Cardiff shot-stopper Ethan Horvath to register his second goal of the contest and put the Millers 3-2 in front.

It was the first time the Liverpudlian has stepped up from 12 yards since he moved to New York two years ago and the strike made him the club's top scorer, on a tally of six, in their relegation campaign.

The man who has previously scored with spot-kicks in League One for Gillingham is planning to be the Millers taker in the third tier next term.

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“I'm a number 9, a striker,” he said. “Penalties are oxygen to me. They keep me ticking over. It gives you confidence.”

Hugill looked annoyed at the time but everything turned out well in the end as he, too, finished with a brace.

The centre-forward set Rotherham on their way to victory in the 25th minute and then, in the 70th, put the seal on the emphatic triumph, with a little help from a certain someone.

Eaves said: “I said to him afterwards: ‘Look, sorry, Jord.’ I flicked one on to him when he scored his second goal, to be fair, so I said: ‘That's us even!’”

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