Wood's brace sends Millers up......
MILLERS skipper Richard Wood led from the front with a well-taken double to send his Rotherham United into the Championship, at the first time of asking, at the expense of Paul Hurst’s Shrewsbury Town.
The Millers dominated the Wembley affair for large spells and despite David Ball having an early spot kick saved by Dean Henderson, Wood put the Millers ahead at the interval with a close range header.
Alex Rodman put the game in the balance with an equaliser to send the game into extra time before Wood proved Rotherham’s hero, by bundling the ball home from point-blank range for the decisive winner.
The Millers went into the showpiece occasion with Semi Ajayi returning at the heart of the Rotherham rearguard, alongside Wood, while Jon Taylor was given an opportunity to impress against his former employers, as Ryan Williams and Matt Palmer had to settle for substitutes berths.
With Millers boss Warne reverting to a 4-4-2 formation, Ball was asked to ply his trade in the number ten position, in support of frontman Michael Smith.
There were a couple of familiar faces in the Shrews line-up with former Miller Mat Sadler skippering Paul Hurst’s men while one-time loanee Carlton Morris spearheaded their attack.
In front of a vociferous travelling contingent of over 14,000 fans, the Millers were led out at Wembley by long-term injury victim Jamie Proctor before Wood conducted the pre-match formalities, prior to kick-off.
The Millers had the first sight of goal when Richie Towell’s defence splitting pass put Ball in the clear and the diminutive forward slid a dangerous centre across the face of goal, evading the Millers runners.
Moments later, Aristote Nsiala was lucky to escape sanction for a wild tackle on Ball but Taylor failed to make it count from the resultant free-kick when it flew harmlessly over the Shrews bar.
In the Shrews first foray of note, Joe Mattock was penalised for a foul on Alex Rodman, near the touchline, and Shaun Whalley curled a tantalising centre which Marek Rodak was forced to parry clear before Smith’s flick on paved the way for Ball to dig out a cross, which gave Joe Newell, a glimpse of goal but his stabbed effort was deflected behind by Nsiala.
Newell floated the resultant corner to the far post where Wood tumbled under the challenge of Omar Beckles and the referee had no hesitation in pointing to the spot.
However, Ball failed to punish the Shrews for their indiscretion with the resultant spot kick when Henderson correctly guessed his intentions to palm his rising effort to safety before the Shrews scrambled the ball clear.
At the other end, Shrewsbury caught the Millers napping from a quickly taken corner and Rodman fired a low effort which was blocked by Will Vaulks en-route to goal before Vaulks turned provider with a slide-rule pass which saw saw Ball weave his magic to ghost into the box but his cross was snuffed out at the near post.
A clever short corner presented Newell with the chance to whip in a dangerous centre which fell kindly for Smith, but his snap effort was blocked at the far post before Wood was inches away from meeting Newell’s corner, in the Millers next attack.
Minutes later, Ball fired a snap shot which was deflected behind by Ben Godfrey before Henderson had a stroke of luck to gather Taylor’s resultant corner, at the second attempt before Whalley became the first to see yellow for a clumsy foul on Mattock.
Just past the half hour mark, Jon Nolan got the better of Ajayi to curl a delightful centre which saw Carlton Morris get in front of his marker to glance a header which had Rodak nervously scurrying across goal, as it flew narrowly wide of the target.
However, Rotherham were rewarded for their first-half superiority on 32 minutes when Newell floated a delicious corner into the danger area and Wood shrugged off the attentions of Beckles to power a downward header from point-blank range into the heart of the Shrews goal giving Henderson no chance.
Shrewsbury frustration boiled over when James Bolton saw yellow for a scything tackle on Newell before Vaulks’ exocet throw caused havoc in the Shrews box forcing Bolton to head clear, at the far post.
With half-time approaching, Shrewsbury failed to clear their lines and Towell fired a dipping half-volley from distance which had Henderson nervously looking over his shoulder, as it narrowly cleared the Shrews bar.
Half-time- Rotherham United 1 Shrewsbury Town 0
Following the break, Shrewsbury started in a positive vein and Carlton Morris tormented Mattock before fizzing a tantalising centre across the Rotherham goalmouth
Moments later, Ajayi was penalised for felling Sadler on the edge of the box and Shrewsbury punished the Millers to the full with a training ground move when Whalley caught Rotherham napping, by drilling the ball into the path of Sadler, who had ghosted away on the edge of the box, and his slide-rule pass was perfect for the on-rushing run of Rodman, who kept his nerve to bundle the ball past Rodak to level matters.
The Millers were struggling to recreate their first-half rhythm until Vaulks’ tame effort from the edge of the box was parried by Henderson, but agonisingly for Warne’s men, the ball ran away from the on-rushing Smith, who was unable to get his shot away.
Moments later, Newell latched onto a loose ball to drive hard at the Shrewsbury defence before drilling a low effort from distance which was smartly smothered by Henderson.
The Millers missed a gilt-edged chance to regain their grip on the game when Vaulks’ floated ball over the top caught the Shrewsbury defence square and sub Caolan Lavery showed them a clean pair of heels to advance on goal but with Henderson narrowing his angle, the Sheffield United loanee curled his shot wide from a promising position.
Moments later, Vaulks volleyed wide from long range before Lavery stung the palms of Henderson with a curling effort from the edge of the box.
With the game in the balance, Ajayi’s tame clearance fell kindly for sub Lenell John-Lewis but he dragged his shot wide of the target before Wood’s superb defensive splitting pass paved the way for Smith to round Henderson, but from an acute angle, the tall frontman got the ball tangled up in his feet – with Henderson able to snuff out the danger.
A fine flowing move from the Millers involving Newell and Smith gave sub Ryan Williams, an opportunity to cut inside with menace but he released the pressure on the Shrews with a tame cross which was plucked out of the sky by Henderson.
In a rare foray from the Shrews, Whalley fired a low effort from distance which had Rodak at full stretch to keep the ball out before Vaulks had a late chance for the Millers, but he fluffed his lines with a wayward effort which failed to trouble Henderson.
Deep in stoppage time, Ajayi’s eye-of-a-needle pass presented Williams with the chance to race into the box before the Australian fired an effort which was arrowing into the far corner of the net until Henderson’s acrobatic intervention.
Full-time:- Rotherham United 1 Shrewsbury Town 1
In the first period of extra time, Godfrey embarked on a powerful run which left Vaulks in his wake, but Josh Emmanuel was on his toes to prevent the Shrews midfielder putting the ball into the danger area before Whalley was, arguably, fortuitous when he felled Williams in full flow, but escaped a second yellow card from the referee.
Following a period of Millers pressure, Towell dragged a long range shot harmlessly wide of the target before Sadler was cautioned for cynically hauling back Williams – in a moment which proved crucial.
Newell floated the resultant free-kick into the box and Wood escaped his marker, at the far post, to latch onto the cross and despite being off-balance, the Millers skipper ushered the ball towards goal and with Henderson flat-footed, the ball found the Shrews net via the inside of the post.
After extra time:- Rotherham United 2 Shrewsbury Town 1
Rotherham United 2
Shrewsbury Town 1
Teams:- Rotherham- Rodak, Emmanuel, Mattock, Vaulks, Ajayi, Wood, Ball (Lavery 71), Taylor (Williams 75), Towell, Newell (Forde 110), Smith. Unused- Price, Palmer, Purrington, Cummings.
Shrewsbury- Henderson, Godfrey, Sadler, Beckles, Whalley, C Morris (John-Lewis 66), Bolton (Riley 73), B Morris (Payne 56), Nolan, Nsiala, Rodman. Unused- MacGillivray, Lowe, Brown, Jones.
Referee- R Jones