SECOND-HALF strikes from skipper Johnny Mullins and Lee Frecklington saw Rotherham United seal automatic promotion to League One following a 2-0 victory over relegated Aldershot.
In front of a sell-out crowd at the New York Stadium, the Millers’ sealed promotion to the next tier with their fifth win on the bounce at the end of a memorable campaign.
Steve Evans made just one change to the starting line-up following their impressive run of form of late with has seen the Millers’ notch four straight wins in the promotion run-in.
David Noble returned at the heart of Rotherham’s midfield as Icelandic international Kari Arnason reverted back to a central defensive position at the expense of Craig Morgan, who was ruled out due to a virus.
The Millers were quick out of the blocks and Arnason’s long throw saw Jamie Young half-heartedly punch to the edge of the box where Ben Pringle blasted over with the goal unguarded.
Minutes later, Michael O’Connor fired a speculative effort from distance which had Young nervously scrambling across goal before the ex-Scunthorpe midfielder turned provider moments later but Kieran Agard’s goalbound effort was blocked by a retreating defender.
The home side were looking to most likely and fine work from Pringle saw Frecklington strike goalwards but Oliver Lancashire bravely put his body on the line before Noble’s arrowed pass put Alex Revell in the clear seconds later but his toe-poked effort rolled tantalisingly wide of the target.
However, the Millers’ were given a scare when Joe Skarz’s backpass saw Scott Shearer dally in possession and with Asa Hall in pursuit, his clearance almost ricocheted off Hall into the home net.
At the other end, a fine flowing move saw Pringle thread a ball into the advancing run of Revell, who skimmed a low effort from the edge of the box which was smothered by Young.
With half an hour gone, Revell was flattened by Sonny Bradley and from the resultant free-kick, Pringle curled an inswinger which almost saw Mullins sneak in unmarked but Young snuffed out the danger.
Moments later, Agard almost got on the end of a long punt from Skarz before Hall headed over at the other end as he climbed highest from Peter Vincenti’s corner.
With seconds remaining, Danny Rose fizzed an effort across the box which had home hearts’ fluttering but Michael Rankine was unable to turn the ball goalwards.
Half-time:- Rotherham United 0 Aldershot Town 0
Following the restart, Aldershot had the first of goal when Anthony Tonkin’s long throw had the home side at sixes and sevens but Adam Mekki was unable to turn the ball goalwards.
Moments later, Revell’s looping header from an innocuous ball forward had Young backtracking nervously but he recovered his ground to snuff out the danger.
Revell was in the thick of the action and after Pringle worked a shooting position on the edge of the box, the ex-Orient frontman fired a snap shot which stung the palms of Young.
Just past the hour mark, Vincenti fired a fierce free-kick from distance which forced Shearer into a smart save.
Shots’ skipper Ben Herd then saw yellow for a lash out at sub Daniel Nardiello and the Millers’ made the visitors’ pay with the vital breakthrough from the resultant free-kick.
O’Connor flighted a centre which was spilled under pressure by Young and firstly, Revell attempted to divert the ball goalwards and the ball fell invitingly into the path of Mullins, who had the simple task of tapping home into the empty net.
The Millers were buoyed by the breakthrough and a lightning counter-attack led by O’Connor paved the way for Pringle to advance menacingly towards goal but his low drive was diverted to safety by the legs of Young rather fortuitously.
The home side were looking to seal the deal and Revell’s volley was arrowing towards the bottom corner until Young’s intervention.
With seconds running out, Aldershot had a late rally and following a period of pressure, Mekki’s header saw Shearer parry the ball onto the upright before Arnason cleared the danger off the line with the visitors’ appealing the ball had crossed the whitewash.
However, the Millers sealed the victory and promotion in fine style deep in stoppage time when Pringle surged clear from the heart of midfield and his sweeping pass released Frecklington, who weighed up his options before calmly slotting the ball past Young into the corner of the goal.
The goal sparked a pitch invasion which forced the referee to halt the proceedings sparking huge scenes of joy among the home faithful.
Full-time:- Roitherham United 2 Aldershot Town 0
Teams:- Rotherham- Shearer, Mullins, Arnason, Davis, Skarz, Noble (Rose 90), O’Connor, Agard (Nardiello 54), Pringle, Frecklington, Revell (Odejayi 82). Unused:- Warrington, Tonge, Ainsworth, Ridehalgh.
Aldershot:- Young, Herd, Tonkin, Lancashire, Rankine, Vincenti (Reid 46), Mekki, Stanley, Bradley, Hall, D Rose. Unused:- Worner, Risser, McCallum, Bergqvist, Goulding, Cadogan.
Referee:- M Russell
Attendance:- 11,300 (308)
Man of the Match:- Johnny Mullins