ROTHERHAM United took a draw from the first part of their League One play-off shootout with Scunthorpe but could easily have come home with their noses in front.
Leading 2-1 going into final minutes thanks to goals from Jon Taylor and substitute Joe Newell , they were pegged back by an equaliser a minute before the end of normal time.
The 2-2 scoreline sets things up nicely for the second leg at the AESSEAL New York Stadium on Wednesday and it would take a brave man to predict the outcome. This match only confirmed how little there is between the teams.
The first half was as tight as expected, with both sides battling for openings on a narrow pitch.
The match caught fire 17 minutes in. First, Richie Towell slipped Taylor in and the winger composed himself to slot past Matt Gilks.
The celebrations in the packed away end were still going on when Scunthorpe swept upfield to equalise. Hakeem Adelakun slipped Duane Holmes through. He lofted the ball over goalkeeper Marek Rodak and Michael Ihiekwe, in attempting to clear, only succeeded in diverting it into his own net.
The leveller lifted the home side and Holmes nearly grabbed a second, clipping the crossbar.
Reverting to a little more cautious 4-5-1 at the start of play, with Towell coming back into the side for David Ball, Rotherham weathered the pressure and looked more settled in the run-up to half time.
Scunthorpe came out firing in the second half and Rory McArdle should have done better when set up by a peach of a cross from Adelakun, planting a header at Rodak from only a few yards out.
It proved costly when the Millers capitalised on 64 minutes, just after Newell had entered the fray. Josh Emmanuel did well down the right and his cross eventually fell to the sub to gleefully hammer in hard and low at the back post. It was his first touch, having been on the pitch less than a minute.
Super sub...celebrations after Joe Newell puts Rotherham back in front.
As in the first half, Scunthorpe sought a quick reply and were denied by a terrific double save by Rodak, first beating out Holmes’ effort and then Ivan Toney’s angled follow-up.
Rotherham kept their shape, as they had to. Semi Ajayi came on for Towell to stiffen the defence and the visitors looked like carrying an advantage into the second leg until they were pegged back in the 88th minute. From a long throw, the home side forced a scramble and as Rodak and Ihiekwe struggled to deal with the situation, sub Cameron McGeehan forced the ball over the line.
It was a blow but with the tie only at “half time,” there is still all to play for.
Scunthorpe: Gilks (Watson 61), Clarke, McArdle, Townsend, Wallace, Bishop, Yates, Adelakun (McGeehan 75), Holmes, Morris, Toney (Hopper 90)
Millers: Rodak; Emmanuel, Ihiekwe, Wood, Mattock; Vaulks; Taylor (Newell 62), Towell (Ajayi 71), Palmer, Williams (Forde 90); Smith
Referee: Tim Robinson