It was the stuff of dreams for Rawmarsh-born youngster Ben Wiles, as he played a starring role in leading his home town club, Rotherham United to Papa Johns Trophy glory.
The Millers were just seconds away from suffering cup heartache at Wembley Stadium as Sutton United looked set to claim a 2-1 victory but Paul Warne’s side grabbed victory from the jaws of defeat as sub Jordi Osei-Tutu ensured the game went to extra time, before goals from Chiedozie Ogbene and Michael Ihiekwe took the game away from the League Two outfit.
Speaking exclusively to www.themillers.co.uk afterwards, Wiles, who came through the club’s Academy, admitted that he played out every Rotherham fans’ dream, by donning the club’s colours, and securing silverware, in the most dramatic of circumstances, at the home of English football.
“It was a rollercoaster of emotions that game.” Wiles admitted.
“This game has got a special place in my heart. I’m really blessed just playing for this club and doing great things. Being a local lad, it just makes it extra special to play in front of the fans.”
It was far from plain sailing for Wiles, and his Rotherham side, who were second best for much of the Wembley Stadium affair as Sutton United belied their underdog status by taking the lead through Donovan Wilson.
However, Wiles made his mark on the highest stage possible, by dragging his side back on level terms, by scoring a fantastic goal with a dipping effort from distance.
The equaliser proved a false dawn for the Millers, though, as Craig Eastmond put the capital outfit back in charge, early in the second half.
The Millers were on the brink of defeat until Osei-Tutu popped up before Rotherham’s superior know-how, and more importantly, fitness, gave them the edge, in the extra half an hour, according to the local youngster.
“We were on top, we were behind and full credit to Sutton, they were something we did not expect. They should be really happy with their performance and hopefully they will do well in the league.” Wiles added.
“In the last half an hour, we knew that fitness was the cutting edge for us. We do extra stuff on fitness and this was the defining moment for us. You could just tell the game was stretching. Their players were getting cramp. We were lucky enough to get the two goals and see the game off.”
Wiles’ progress through the academy is testament to the work of the club’s staff and with another graduate Joshua Kayode also handed a Wembley starting berth, the dynamic midfielder believes that the club are reaping the rewards of the fruits of their labours on the training pitch.
“Full credit to the gaffer and management staff for having time for me. We have some good prospects coming through and hopefully they can also get in this position.” Wiles added.
The topsy-turvy nature of the showpiece final will live long in the memory for all those with a Rotherham United persuasion, but with the carrot of another Sky Bet Championship promotion being on the cards for Warne’s side, Wiles believes the joy of their Wembley heroics could give them some much needed momentum as they vie with the likes of Wigan Athletic and Milton Keynes Dons for one of those cherished automatic promotion spots.
“It was a hardworking performance from us. In the end, we got the job done and we will take the confidence into the league and that is the priority for us.” Wiles enthused.
“We want to take this momentum into the league. I know we are capable of going up and our performances this season show that.
“I don’t want to tempt fate but we want to be back in the Championship and show everyone that we can stay up at that level.”