Rotherham United orchestrate a brilliant 2nd-half comeback to defeat local rivals Sheffield United 3-1 at the New York Stadium.
This one came at the start of the 2013/14 League One season. Rotherham returned to the 3rd tier and faced Sheffield United for the first time in the league since 2005.
The Millers had made a decent start to the season under Steve Evans. They were unbeaten from their opening five league games, winning two and drawing three. This placed them fourth in League One, but this game was by far their biggest of the campaign to date.
Sheffield United meanwhile had made a slow start under David Weir. They were down in 19th place and were without a win in four games.
This run included defeats to Brentford, Bradford City and MK Dons. Their only win came in their opening game, as they beat Notts County 2-1 at Brammall Lane.
Both sides were desperate to win this one. The Blades were keen to win to start a climb up the table. While the Millers required a victory to propel themselves into the early promotion mix.
Rotherham United Starting XI
Steve Evans made three changes for this game. Kari Arnason, Mark Bradley and Michael O’Connor dropped out in place of Claude Davis, Pablo Mills and Richard Brindley.
Sheffield United’s new joint-owner, Prince Abdullah bin Mosaad, was in attendance on the day he outlined his ambitious plans for the club. It was his side who started the better and they should have been ahead after three minutes.
The Blades earned a free-kick from about 25-yards out. Tony McMahon struck it sweetly and it looked destined for the top corner but it crashed off the crossbar.
Rotherham’s only chances of the half came via Lee Frecklington and Alex Revell. But they struggled to get going as the visitors had the better of it.
Sheffield United ultimately took the lead in the 37th minute. It was all so easy for the visitors, as a simple throw-in from the right-wing let Jose Baxter in. Pablo Mills did not track his man which allowed the forward to finish nicely from a tight angle.
Evans had to change things at the break. Rotherham could not find any rhythm in this new system. The Scotsman made one switch as Craig Morgan made way for Daniel Nardiello. The Millers reverted to a 4-4-2 formation, which was a much more attacking setup.
This made a huge difference as the Millers looked like a completely different team after the break. They were fired up and they brought the game to their local rivals in the 2nd-half.
Sheff Utd did not muster anything in response to Rotherham’s onslaught and the home side grabbed a deserved equaliser just six minutes after half-time.
A long ball up field was kept alive by Revell. The ball then fell to Kieran Agard from 25-yards out. The attacker touched it out of his feat before striking it beautifully past Mark Howard in goal.
From this point on it was all Rotherham United. They were patient but in the 72nd-minute they created a huge opening to take the lead.
The Millers worked it well into the penalty area to Nardiello. The substitute turned skillfully hoping to get a shot off. But he was bundled over by Neil Collins and the referee pointed to the spot. Nardiello took it himself and he smashed it past Howard to put his side 2-1 up.
The stadium was bouncing and things got even better for the Millers three minutes later. Rotherham kept coming forward as Revell found it on the edge of the area. He laid it off to Rob Milsom who placed it perfectly into the bottom corner to all-but seal the win for Rotherham.
That was how it finished as the Millers earned a massive three points against their rivals. It was no less than Rotherham deserved after a superb second-half performance.
Evans saw that it was not working in the first half and made the right changes. The shift to a 4-4-2 made a tremendous impact as Rotherham ended the game brilliantly.
It goes without saying that Rotherham went from strength to strength after this win. The Millers enjoyed an excellent campaign which culminated in promotion to the Championship via that famous day at Wembley.
There were many great games and moments throughout the 13/14 campaign. It has rightly gone down as one of Rotherham’s greatest ever seasons.
But this win over Sheffield United kickstarted it all. After this victory, Rotherham moved to the next level and they became a real force in League One. This victory was certainly one of the key points of the season that thrust Rotherham towards making history by sealing back-to-back promotions.