IT was a night to remember at the New York Stadium as Rotherham United dumped local rivals Sheffield Wednesday out of the Capital One Cup thanks to goals from Ben Pringle and Lee Frecklington.
Following their last-gasp draw at Crewe Alexandra at the weekend, Steve Evans rang the changes with Mark Bradley being drafted in at right-back at the expense of Richard Brindley, who dropped to the bench.
Kieran Agard was introduced into the Millers’ starting line-up on the right-hand side of midfield as Icelandic international Kari Arnason reverted to a central defensive position in front of Claude Davis while the New York faithful had their first look at Matt Tubbs, who was handed his first start for the Millers following his cameo role at Gresty Road.
With the kick-off delayed by fifteen minutes because of crowd congestion, the Owls had the first sight of goal when Michail Antonio cut inside before firing a rasping effort which was deflected harmlessly wide of the target.
In their first foray of note, the Millers came within a whisker of the opener when Scott Shearer’s long punt upfield was flicked on by Alex Revell into the path of Tubbs, whose toe-poked effort was blocked at point-blank range by the advancing Chris Kirkland.
However, the home side stunned the visitors by breaking the deadlock in the next phase of play when Wednesday failed to clear decisively from an Arnason long-throw and the ball fell invitingly into the path of Pringle, who unleashed a fearsome left-footed effort from the edge of the box which whistled into the top corner of the visitors goal beating the outstretched hand of Kirkland.
The home side were buoyed by the breakthrough and Frecklington fired over moments later before Craig Morgan rose highest from Arnason’s bullet throw but his header was comfortably gathered by Kirkland.
Moments later, Rafael Floro was penalised for handball and from the resultant free-kick, Pringle delivered a tantalising centre which was met by the head of Arnason, but he couldn’t control his header as it looped over the bar.
Despite the Millers controlling the proceedings they were pegged back on 22 minutes when the Owls equalised against the run of play.
After Agard was penalised for shrugging off David Prutton in an inviting position, the home side were punished from the resultant free-kick when Rhys McCabe fired a fierce effort from distance which skimmed off the surface to beat the desperate dive of Shearer before finding the bottom corner of the goal.
Just past the half-hour mark, Michael O’Connor dragged a shot wide of the target following Tubbs’ clever lay-off before Joe Skarz’s hanging cross looked destined for the head of Revell, but he failed to connect with the goal gaping.
Moments later, Bradley drilled an effort which was blocked by a retreating defender before the Millers regained the lead eight minutes before the interval.
The visitors once again failed to deal with another Arnason throw in the danger area and the ball fell invitingly into the path of Frecklington, who controlled smartly and with the Owls failing to close him down, he unleashed a rasping effort from over 20 yards which flew past a ruck of bodies in the box before arrowing into the far corner of the goal.
With half-time approaching, Skarz saw yellow for hauling down Antonio in full flow before Shearer had to be alert to snuff out the danger as Antonio looked to latch onto an inviting throughball moments later.
In the last action of the half, Pringle delivered a tantalising inswinger which saw Arnason rise highest at the far post but his point-blank header was blocked by Kirkland at his near post.
Half-time:- Rotherham United 2 Sheffield Wednesday 1
Following the interval, Jacques Maghoma was lucky to escape punishment as he tumbled in the home box even though Skarz withdrew his challenge.
Minutes later, Jeremy Helan was booked for tripping Agard as he looked to launch a home counter-attack before Tubbs agonisingly failed to connect with a volley as the ball looped invitingly into his path from a towering flick-on from Revell.
The home side had an escape when Morgan’s sliding challenge saw Antonio felled just outside the box but McCabe failed to repeat his trick when he blazed his free-kick over the bar.
Minutes later, Floro blazed a speculative effort from distance high over the bar before Gary Madine dragged a left-footed effort harmlessly wide of the target.
With tensions rising, Revell was yellow-carded for the home side before Owls’ hopes of a comeback were dented with fifteen minutes to go when sub Jermaine Johnson was sent for an early bath as he seemingly lashed out at Pringle with his head near the touchline and after the referee Darren Drysdale had consulted with the fourth official, Wednesday were down to ten men.
The visitors almost had a stroke of luck when Revell’s lashed clearance struck sub Chris Maguire inavertedly and the ball ricocheted towards the home goal but Shearer was on-hand to parry the ball to safety.
With time running out, Antonio saw yellow for diving in the home box before Madine blazed over the crossbar when he really should have done better.
Full-time:- Rotherham United 2 Sheffield Wednesday 1
Teams:- Rotherham- Shearer, Bradley, Morgan, Arnason, Skarz, Agard (Noble 90+1), O’Connor, Frecklington (Tidser 72), Pringle, Revell, Tubbs (Worrall 81). Unused:- Collin, Brindley, Davis, Milsom.
Sheffield Wednesday:- Kirkland, Palmer, Gardner, Zayatte, McCabe, Prutton, Antonio, Helan, Maghoma (Johnson 59), Nuhiu (Madine 52), Floro (Maguire 70). Unused:- Davies, Llera, Taylor, Semedo.
Referee:- Darren Drysdale
Attendance:- 11433 (2516)
Man of the Match:- Michael O’Connor