Join us as we take a look at some classic Rotherham United matches from yesteryear. We start with the 2013/14 League 1 Play-Off Final: The Millers vs Leyton Orient.
This was the culmination of a long and successful season for Leyton Orient and Rotherham United. Each side finished the normal season level on 86 points in 3rd and 4th respectively.
Next up was the Play-Off Semi-Finals. Orient overcame Peterborough United to advance. They beat the Posh 2-1 at home in the 2nd-leg to sneak through 3-2 on aggregate.
Rotherham had a tough challenge to reach the final as they faced Preston in their semi-final. The tie was at a stalemate after the first leg, and everything was up for grabs at the New York Stadium.
Steve Evans’ side rose to the occasion on a famous night at the new ground. Goals from Wes Thomas, Lee Frecklington and Kieran Agard secured a 4-2 aggregate win and a place for the Millers in the final.
Then came the big game at Wembley. The nervous energy and excitement was palpable around the stadium as kick-off approached.
Rotherham United Starting XI
There was a tense opening to the game, but Orient struck first. Just after the half-hour mark, Simon Cox sent the ball into the area from a free-kick. The Millers could not clear as the ball fell to Moses Odubajo on the edge.
Odubajo got the ball out of his feet before hitting a sweet strike with his left foot. The ball flew past everyone in the crowded penalty area as well as Adam Collin in goal as the O’s went 1-0 up.
Rotherham were in disarray in the aftermath of the goal, and matters were made even worse for them just five minutes later.
Orient worked the ball to the edge of the penalty area and all James Tavernier could do was head it away to the right flank. It fell into Odubajo’s path who put it on a plate for Cox at the back post. The winger tapped home to put his side well into the ascendency as we approached the break.
The first-half was over in a flash and it looked like Leyton Orient were already on the brink of promotion. The Rotherham fans were left silent at the break. They could not believe that their play-off final had started so poorly.
But if you know anything about the Millers, you know they do not lie down without a fight. Throughout the season, they came back from the cusp of defeat to earn vital points.
Everyone in attendance knew that the Millers might not come back and win. But they would at least give their all in hope of a comeback.
The spirited Millers came out firing after the break. It took just short of ten minutes for them to claw themselves back into the game.
As was the case for much of the season, Tavernier’s quality opened the door on goal. His ball into the box from a wide free-kick brought Orient’s ‘keeper Jamie Jones flying out.
Jones did not get clean contact on his punch, as the ball fell straight to Alex Revell. The fan-favourite tapped the ball into an empty net to throw the game wide open.
Then five minutes later, the Millers scored again. It has become one of the most rewatchable goals in the Millers’ history and it is a moment that will never be forgotten by Rotherham fans.
Ben Pringle won the ball back inside Rotherham’s half, and he sent a lofted ball towards Agard. Peter Clarke got his head on the ball, but it went straight to Revell.
The striker controlled the ball and hit it on the half volley from 30-plus yards out. Revell could not have hit it any sweeter as the ball looped over the ‘keeper and nestled in the goal.
From nowhere, the Millers were back on terms with the score 2-2. With half an hour left of normal time, nothing could separate the sides.
Each team exchanged chances with the best falling to Agard. He was through on goal but headed wide with just seconds remaining.
Both teams were exhausted during extra-time. During the extra half-hour, there were only one or two chances. It was clear we were heading for penalties. The final whistle blew as the stadium now awaited the final’s tense conclusion.
The shootout got going with two calm penalties from Agard and Lloyd James. Rotherham captain Frecklington was next up. You would have put your house on him scoring. But his spot-kick was clawed away by Jones to put Orient well in control once again.
John Lundstram, Pringle, and Clarke were next and they all scored fine penalties. This made it 3-2 to Orient with two attempts each left to go.
Tavernier showed his class as he fired into the top corner to make it 3-3. Matteo Baudry was next, and his kick was saved brilliantly by Colin to make it all square again.
Richie Smallwood smashed his penalty into the net and it was now all-on Orient’s Chris Dagnall to keep the game alive. He could not keep his nerve as Colin saved once again to win it for the Millers…
‘The sweetest feeling for Rotherham United…’
One half of the stadium was in euphoria. The Millers did it. They pulled off the most dramatic of comebacks to earn promotion. Returning to the Championship for the first time in 10 years.
A well-deserved promotion after a fantastic season for Rotherham United. It has gone down as one of the biggest days in the club’s history and it will live forever in the memory for everyone there that day.