The story of the Remembrance Day comeback never to forget: Rotherham United 2 Swansea City 1

By Paul Davis | 04/11/2018

The story of the Remembrance Day comeback never to forget: Rotherham United 2 Swansea City 1
Victory joy at New York Stadium

Away fans taunted home supporters about AESSEAL New York Stadium sounding like a library.

Rotherham United followers had little to cheer. Their team were being outclassed by the best side to visit New York this season.

The Millers were a goal down. There seemed no way back. This was a Remembrance Day clash to forget and Paul Warne's men were heading into the Championship drop zone.

The flags lowered during the pre-match minute's silence and the Last Post seemed a metaphor for Rotherham's fortunes, with Swansea City controlling proceedings as the clock ticked towards full-time.

Then something happened. Something mad, crazy and special happened. The Millers simply refused to accept defeat.

From spirit came defiance, from defiance came two penalties. The library of New York was a cauldron of noise and fever-pitched encouragement.

From two penalties came two goals, from two goals came three points. Suddenly, one of the most thrilling, unexpected comebacks New York has ever witnessed was complete.

No-one could quite believe it, least of all Rotherham boss Paul Warne who came into his press conference apologising to anyone from South Wales.

But he made no apology for the courage of his men.

"For us to eventually come out with a win says more about our character than our performance," he said. "It sums up the togetherness I have got in the dressing room.

Penalty hero Ryan Manning

"It means a lot to the players. They don't give up. Whatever criticism you might have of my team it isn't that they don't try. They definitely tried against a very good team."

Rotherham United 2 Swansea City 1 and the Millers up to 18th in the table.

How those flags are flying now.

THE MATCH

A commemorative coin, etched with a profound statement of gratitude, was used for the pre-match toss. "To all who served, sacrificed and changed the world, thank you," it said.

Swansea took the initiative from the off. They were slick, sharp and fast and Daniel James was a darting left-wing menace that Zak Vyner couldn't handle. James crossed and Oli McBurnie, a striker Warne once tried to sign, was on hand to give the Swans a deserved 25th-minute lead.

Marek Rodak had saved from Bersant Celina before the break and he kept the Millers in the game in the second half with saves from Leroy Fer and Celina again while Vyner foiled James with the tackle of the match.

Warne, having brought Ryan Manning on at half-time, added Joe Newell and Jamie Proctor to the fray. "I went 4-4-2," he said.  "It felt like it was a 20-minute game then. We threw the kitchen sink at them."

Proctor was pulled back by goalkeeper Kristoffer Nordfeldt as the pair challenged for a high, bouncing ball in the 79th minute and Manning despatched a perfect spot-kick.

All the silence was in the away end now as three sides of New York frothed and foamed.

For a minute after the equaliser, the teams went toe to toe. In a battle of wills, tackles flew in and tempers flared. Swansea wilted, Rotherham didn't.

Within seven minutes of his first goal, Manning repeated the trick, sending the ball flying into the right of the net again after Fer had handballed Will Vaulks' mishit shot from a free-kick won and taken by Newell.

Ryan Williams raced back 60 yards to dispossess James in Swansea's last moment of danger. Michael Smith, twice sent racing clear, could have made it 3-1 in time added on.

The Millers had served, sacrificed and changed the game.

Game won

"I've just looked at the league table," Warne said. "If you took three points off us, we'd be second bottom. My team don't deserve that. I still think we should have five or six more points on the board than we have.

"Today was a lesson in how difficult this league is. For us to have a successful season, home points are essential. Our performance wasn't great, our togetherness was. We'll take it."

The boss didn't quite dance off into the night. The circumstances of the fightback had drained him.

"I was tempted to go to the ice hockey, but I don't think I will now," he said. "I just want to lay down and have a cup of tea while my missus is watching Strictly."

THE PENALTIES

TV replays suggested referee Tony Harrington made the right calls.

Warne, without the benefit of checking the footage, said: "I thought the first one was a little bit weak. If we had conceded a penalty like that, I would have been disappointed.

"The second one - and I'm not trying to be too much of a comedian here - no-one is expecting Will to hit it so badly. It was going out for a throw-in.

"If Fer's hands are in front of his face, it's definitely a pen. He has to be brave and take one in the face. I have no sympathy."

Those mocking Swansea fans trooped disconsolately away. They had seen the big poppies on the front of the Rotherham players' shirts. What they weren't to know was the size of the hearts under them.

"Is this a library?" they'd sung. Maybe they should have read the ending first.

Rotherham (4-1-4-1): Marek Rodak; Zak Vyner, Semi Ajayi, Clark Robertson, Joe Mattock; Jon Taylor, Richie Towell, Will Vaulks, Kyle Vassell; Ryan Williams; Michael Smith.

Subs: Ryan Manning for Vassell (H-T), Joe Newell for Taylor (62 minutes), Jamie Proctor for Towell (74). Not used: Lewis Price, Richard Wood, Anthony Forde, Ben Wiles.

Swansea (4-4-1-1 ): Kristoffer Nordfeldt; Kyle Naughton, Mike van der Hoorn, Joe Rodon, Matt Grimes; Connor Roberts, Jay Fulton, Leroy Fer, Daniel James; Bersant Celina; Oli McBurnie.

Subs: Courtney Baker-Richardson for Fulton (90), Barrie McKay for Naughton (90). Not used: Erwin Mulder, Martin Olsson, Joel Asoro, Cameron Carter-Vickers, Yan Dhanda.

Goals: Manning pen 79, pen 86 (Rotherham); McBurnie 25 (Swansea).

Referee: Tony Harrington (Cleveland).

Attendance: 9.006 (778).


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