Rotherham United: Happy memory Millers take to Wembley

editorial image
Have your say

It was described at the time as the loudest explosion of single-moment sound at the New York Stadium. Of course, a repeat at Wembley would certainly top it.

That moment was Alex Revell’s winner right at the end of stoppage time when Rotherham United met Leyton Orient on February 1.

The response inside the ground at the split-second Revell’s 20 yarder found the bottom corner was one of instantaneous joy and delight mixed with relief. Happy bedlam!

It was certainly one of those moments, across a long and successful season, which gets seared into the memory bank. Yes, joy greets all winners, particularly late ones, but the response to this one was greater than usual.

At the time, Orient were on an exceptional run. They’d lost only once away from home and until that shot by their former player - they sold Revell to Rotherham in August 2011 - had been in the top two all season and most of it in top spot.

As the countdown continues towards these two sides meeting in the League One Play-off final on Sunday, there are those who reckon it is too close to call; that there really is very little indeed between the two teams.

They did finish on the same points, Orient taking third spot on goal difference just to emphasise how evenly matched they are. Checking on the teams from that February meeting, I re-read the report, too. Steve Evans, with no slight to his side, said Orient were the hardest-working side in the division. It was enthralling with never a dull moment, I wrote. And went on... “it wasn’t the prettiest of games but when you’ve teams grafting so hard and scrapping for every bit of ground all over the place, there’s no easy passage for a bit of nice, passing football.”

Orient’s ability to close down and press quickly was noted and, out of possession, I reckoned they were the best in the division.

Noted, too, was Rotherham’s relentless pressure late on which culminated in the winner.

Orient’s organisation under Russell Slade has been key to their success this season. In the game at Brisbane Road in October, Orient dominated the first half but then seemed to fall back and defend their 1-0 lead for the entire second half as if putting their trust in their defensive worthiness.

Rightly, Millers fans will point to their side’s performances at home to Brentford and the second leg against Preston. They know if their side touches those impressive heights they would be good enough to tilt Sunday’s game their way and win it.

In October, the points gap between them was 15. After the February 1 game it was nine. Finishing level denotes Rotherham’s better final months. Encouraging but it looks so close.