Rotherham United: How Millers set the tone v PNE

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No-one knows what it’ll be but there may well be a pivotal moment at some stage of Rotherham United’s League One Play-off Final with Leyton Orient next Sunday. A moment, not necessarily a goal, which could be decisive to the outcome.

Perhaps the lucky escape Adam Collin had against Preston North End in the semi-final when that shot slipped through his hands and, somehow, looped wide right on half-time at 2-1 up was pivotal last Thursday.

It’s also likely there could be moment that seems to set the tone, perhaps putting down a marker denoting the mood amongst the team.

These often come early and there seemed to be one such moment in the opening couple of minutes of Rotherham’s second leg against Preston.

It was down near Rotherham’s left corner flag. A loose ball and Ben Pringle rattled into a challenge, conceding a throw-in. Inside 30 seconds, still in the same area, he threw himself with fierce determination into a similar tackle and again a throw in resulted.

It seemed almost insignificant in the context of the bigger picture and with 87 minutes to go but Pringle - not quite ready yet to take over Norman Hunter’s nickname - had sent a message, picked up by Millers fans, that he was ready to do battle, with or without the ball. To use fans’ parlance, he was ‘up for it’.

There’ll be those who’ll say ‘why wouldn’t you be in such a big game?’. But sometimes it takes someone to go that extra yard, perhaps take their own level up a notch.

Take skipper Craig Morgan, typically setting an example as he bashed his way to some early headers. This isn’t to suggest Preston’s commitment wasn’t up there, but as Rotherham pressed and dogged them all over the place it did seem to eventually sap the spirit of one or two in white.

It reminded Millers fans of the stunning display against Brentford. There were those who reckoned if Rotherham could reprise that level of performance they’d win. They were right.

They’ll look to do the same at Wembley and it would be more than a match for any League One team, although Orient, well organised and hard-working, may be made of sterner stuff than Preston.

When they met earlier this season at Orient - with Steve Evans suggesting these were the two hardest-working sides in the division - the home side won 1-0. They outplayed Rotherham first half and spent virtually the entire second half defending and holding on.

There was little in it at NYS which was decided by Alex Revell’s stoppage-time winner against his former club.

Tight? It’s likely to be. A pivotal moment? A tone-setter? Well see.