Millers book their place in the Play-off final.
ROTHERHAM United booked a Wembley showpiece with Shrewsbury Town for the right to return to the Championship, at the first time of asking after goals either side of the interval from skipper Richard Wood and Will Vaulks ended Scunthorpe United’s play-off challenge.
In a raucous AESSEAL New York Stadium atmosphere, Paul Warne’s men came out on top thanks to Wood’s point-blank header, on the stroke of half time before Vaulks eased home nerves with a well-taken effort after the break.
Following the enthralling 2-2 draw at Glanford Park on Saturday, Millers boss Paul Warne made just one change to his starting line-up for the winner-takes-all clash.
Joe Newell was rewarded for his goal scoring cameo with a starting berth, at the expense of Jon Taylor, who had to settle for a place on the bench.
The Iron had the first sight of goal when Conor Townsend raced down the left flank but a backtracking Ryan Williams cut out the danger before Newell bravely blocked Townsend’s snap shot, from the resultant corner.
In the Millers first foray of note, Ryan Williams tumbled under the challenge of Ryan Yates and Newell curled a delightful free-kick into the box but in the aftermath of the move, Wood released the pressure on the visitors, when he failed to get the ball under his spell.
The Millers fans had their hearts in their mouths when Josh Morris played a slide-rule ball which bisected the home rearguard and Duane Holmes took the ball in his stride before calmly stroking the ball past Marek Rodak – but any Iron joy was short-lived as the assistant referee had already flagged for offside.
The visitors were in the ascendancy and a quick counter left the Millers short of cover and Funso Ojo’s fizzed pass presented Hakeeb Adelakun with the chance to cut inside before unleashing a fierce effort from distance which skimmed off the immaculate AESSEAL New York Stadium surface but Rodak got his body behind his shot.
At the other end, the Millers had strong appeals for a spot-kick when Williams was felled by Yates in the box but the referee waved away home protests before Wood’s clever knockdown gave his fellow centre-half Michael Ihiekwe, a glimpse of goal but the ex-Tranmere defender blazed his long range effort into the visiting faithful behind the goal.
Just before the half hour mark, Newell’s hanging corner found the head of Vaulks, who planted the ball into the danger area and Ihiekwe had two bites of the cherry, narrowly heading wide with his second effort.
Minutes later, Richie Towell picked up the pieces on the edge of the box to curl an effort which was arrowing into the far corner of the net until Rory Watson’s superb finger-tip intervention, which parried the ball to safety.
In the next Millers attack, Matt Palmer floated a corner which paved the way for Michael Smith, to shrug off the attentions of his marker, but the tall frontman was unable to control his header, which ballooned over the bar.
With half-time approaching, fine interplay in and around the box saw Vaulks float a cross into the box and Joe Mattock got in between two defenders, to power a header across the face of goal but agonisingly for the Millers, the ball fizzed past the upright before Smith made something out of nothing to enable Palmer to take aim with a stinging drive – which Watson made a hash of before a retreating defender hacked clear.
On the stroke of half time, Rotherham continued to press and they broke the deadlock when Vaulks launched an exocet throw into the danger area and a determined Wood, got the run on his marker to head home from point-blank range giving a stationary Watson no chance.
Half-time- Rotherham United 1 Scunthorpe United 0
Following the break, Scunthorpe squandered an opportunity when Ihiekwe’s error gave Ivan Toney the chance to put Holmes, in the clear, and despite leaving Palmer in his wake, a heavy first touch from the lively Iron midfielder gave Rodak the opportunity to smother the danger.
Minutes later, Toney received the first yellow card of the evening for clipping Wood, as the home skipper attempted to clear down the touchline before McArdle soon joined him in the book for a reckless challenge on Williams, on halfway.
Just past the hour mark, Rotherham took a firm grip on the game when fine work by Smith paved the way for Williams, to release a rampaging Emmanuel, who raced into the box, to fire a cross which was only half-cleared into the path of Vaulks, who latched onto the loose ball to dribble an effort into the far corner of the goal.
The Iron came within a whisker of reducing the arrears almost immediately when Morris got around the back to fizz a centre, which evaded the attentions of Rodak, but Toney was unable to turn the ball home at the far post with Wood bravely putting his body on the line to keep the ball out.
Toney was in the thick of the action and after Wood failed to take charge, the Newcastle loanee waltzed into the box to bare down on goal but Mattock produced a superb block before Rodak had a rush of blood which saw Morris put the ball back into the danger area, but the home side managed to scramble the ball to safety.
The Iron were refusing to throw in the towel and Morris got to the by-line to fire a tantalising centre which looked inch-perfect for Cameron McGeehan, at the far post, but the Iron substitute failed to hit the target from point-blank range.
The Iron missed a gilt-edged chance to reduce the arrears when Morris’ defensive splitting pass saw Holmes advance on goal but he elected to shoot rather than opt for pass to McGeehan and Toney, who would have had a tap-in and Rodak was able to divert the ball to safety with his legs.
The sting was effectively taken out of the Iron when they were reduced to ten men when McArdle received a second yellow card for a clumsy foul on Newell and the referee had no hesitation in sending the one-time Millers target for an early bath.
The Millers almost killed off Scunthorpe hopes when Newell’s cross saw Wood knockdown into the path of Taylor but Watson stood up tall to block his goalbound effort before Ajayi headed over, in the next phase of play.
Moments later, Newell fired into the side netting from an acute angle before Rodak showed his agility with an acrobatic save to deny Holmes.
With time running out for the Iron, Newell embarked on a mazy run which ended when he fired narrowly over before Morris had Scunthorpe’s last chance of note when he fired a free-kick into the grateful hands of Rodak.
Full-time- Rotherham United 2 Scunthorpe United 0
Teams:- Rotherham- Rodak, Emmanuel, Mattock, Vaulks, Wood, Palmer, Towell, Ihiekwe (Ajayi 52), Newell (Forde 89), Williams (Taylor 67), Smith. Unused- Price, Ball, Purrington, Lavery.
Scunthorpe- Watson, Townsend, Wallace, Ojo, Toney (Novak 80), Morris, Adelakun (McGeehan 62), Vermijl, Holmes, McArdle, Yates (Hopper 83). Unused- Kelsey, Bishop, Burgess, Sutton.
Referee- S Duncan
Attendance- 11061 (1202)