KIERAN Lee broke Millers hearts as his late strike earned Sheffield Wednesday South Yorkshire bragging rights after the Owls pegged the home side back twice to snatch victory following a pulsating second-half.
The Owls had ‘keeper Keiren Westwood to thank for keeping the scores level at the interval after he twice denied Matt Derbyshire before Ben Pringle deservedly gave the home side the lead before sub Caolan Lavery equalised for the visitors.
However, Bowery struck from a tight angle to give the Millers the lead for a second time before Atdhe Nuhiu powered home a header to level matters once again.
With the last kick of the game, Lee waltzed through a static home defence before calmly slotting home to leave the Millers empty-handed.
Following back-to-back defeats at the hands of Wigan and Nottingham Forest respectively, the Millers reshuffled their pack by making three changes to their starting line-up for the visit of their near-neighbours.
Arsenal goalkeeper Emi Martinez and Charlton loanee Lawrie Wilson were thrown immediately into the fray to make their Millers debuts after putting pen to paper on loan deals just 24 hours previously as Adam Collin had to content with a substitutes berth while Icelandic international Kari Arnason was unavailable due to suspension.
Club skipper Craig Morgan also returned at the heart of the Millers rearguard at the expense of Farrend Rawson while Jack Hunt shrugged off a hip injury sustained at the City Ground to take his place in the right back berth.
With the kick-off delayed by 15 minutes, the Millers almost took the game by the scruff of the neck in the early minutes when Claude Dielna’s mistake was pounced upon by Conor Sammon, who attacked with menace towards the visitors box and after releasing Matt Derbyshire, the ex-Olympiakos striker cut inside Dielna, who looked to atone for his mistake, before bearing down on goal but Keiren Westwood stood up tall to block his goalbound effort.
In the Owls first foray of note, Lewis McGugan fought hard to win possession before jinking past the attentions of Kirk Broadfoot to waltz into the box before firing an effort with the inside of his foot which was arrowing towards the bottom corner but Martinez showed good reflexes to parry the ball to safety.
Just past the quarter hour, Hunt and Wilson successfully exchanges passes enabling the former to gallop down the touchline and 11th hour replacement Joe Mattock, who came in for Kamil Zayatte prior to kick-off, cynically clipped the heels of the marauding full-back and although Wednesday were able to snuff out the danger, Mattock was shown the first yellow card of the afternoon when the play came to a halt.
Minutes later, Ben Pringle floated a delightful corner which was aimed towards Morgan and a Wednesday defender in attempting the make the clearance screwed the ball towards his own goal and with Westwood looking to punch the ball clear from his own line and with Sammon in pursuit, the ball found the back of the net but any Rotherham joy was curtailed by referee Oliver Langford, who had blown for a foul.
At the other end, Mattock got the better of Hunt on the left flank before playing an inviting centre into the path of the onrushing Lee, who looked to turn the ball goalwards but his scuffed effort was blocked en-route to goal by a retreating home defender.
Just past the half hour mark, Pringle swung a tantalising corner which narrowly evaded the attentions of Derbyshire but struck the advancing Broadfoot but the ball flashed wide of the target before the visitors were indebted to their ‘keeper Westwood for keeping the scores level in the next home attack.
With Pringle again the architect, his incisive corner to the front post saw Derbyshire ghost away from his marker to glance a header which was heading for the far corner but the Owls stopper pulled off a magnificent save to keep the ball out.
The home misery was almost compounded as Wednesday turned defence into attack in the blink of an eye from the clearance when Jeremy Helan skipped away from Hunt and his incisive pull-back saw McGugan strike goalwards but Morgan led from the front as he threw his body in the way of his goalbound shot.
With half-time approaching, Sam Hutchinson was fortunate to escape with a caution following a wild lunge at Wilson before the referee drew the half to a close.
Half-time:- Rotherham United 0 Sheffield Wednesday 0
Following a slow start to the half by both sides, Hunt injected life into the proceedings with back-to-back incisive runs down the right flank before Rotherham brought the AESSEAL New York Stadium to its feet by breaking the deadlock on 57 minutes.
After Frecklington was tackled on halfway, a long punt upfield was only half cleared by the retreating Owls defence and the ball fell invitingly for Pringle on the edge of the box and the Millers playmaker swung a sweet left-footed effort which Owls skipper Tom Lees attempted to clear but he could only deflect the ball into the bottom corner, wrongfooting Westwood in the process, who vainly attempted to keep the ball out of the net.
The Millers were lifted by the strike and there looked little danger when Hunt picked up possession on the right hand side but he showed the Owls defence a clean pair of heels as he jetted away and after bulldozing his way through some half-hearted tackling from the visitors, he struck a fierce left-footed effort which grazed the visitors bar.
In a rare attack by the visitors, Helan worked a yard of space on the left flank to float a centre which saw sub Caolan Lavery rise highest at the far stick but his header lacked power as it fell into the grateful hands of Martinez.
With 20 minutes to go, Hunt was again the provider as his deep cross found Derbyshire, who controlled smartly before firing an instinctive volley which whistled past the upright with Westwood a helpless bystander.
There was a moment of controversy when Morgan was harshly adjudged to have hauled over Lavery on the edge of the box, which saw the home skipper booked in the process, but Wednesday squandered the opportunity from the resultant free-kick when Dielna fired into the home wall.
Minutes later, Sammon screwed an effort into the side netting before sub Stevie May almost came to haunt his former suitors with a low drive which flew narrowly wide at the other end.
With time running out for the visitors, McGugan got the better of Derbyshire near the touchline before clipping a centre which bisected the home defence and Lavery nipped in to power a header into the home goal.
However, the Millers bounced back immediately to regain the lead from their next attack when a long ball found Bowery, who had beat the offside trap and the ex-Villa striker kept his cool to cut inside Dielna, before firing an effort which Westwood seemed to get a hand to but it dribbled into the bottom corner to send the home fans wild.
With seven minutes of injury time declared, the Owls broke Millers’ hearts when Hunt gave away a needless free-kick near the touchline and Stuart Gray’s men made them pay when McGugan swung a fantastic free-kick into the danger area and Atdhe Nuhiu ghosted in to power a header into the roof of the home net.
With the full time whistle approaching, the Owls snatched victory when Nuhiu’s clever flick on saw Lee control smartly before racing away from the home rearguard and with just Martinez to beat, he kept his nerve to calmly slide the ball past the advancing 'keeper.
Full-time:- Rotherham United 2 Sheffield Wednesday 3
Teams:- Rotherham- Martinez, Lafferty, Broadfoot, Frecklington, Pringle, Morgan, Sammon (Bowery 84), Wilson, Derbyshire (Milsom 90), Hunt, Smallwood. Unused:- Collin, Brindley, Green, Newton, Yates.
Sheffield Wednesday- Westwood, Hutchinson (Maguire 74), Nuhiu, Lees, Helan (May 73), Mattock, Lee, Isgrove (Lavery 58), Dielna, Vermijl, McGugan. Unused:- Kirkland, Buxton, Melo.
Referee:- Oliver Langford
Attendance:- 11707 (1210).