Sheffield Wednesday’s defeat at Rotherham brought to mind their ignominious 2-0 exit at Port Vale in the League Cup four years ago when Brian Laws was manager, writes Paul Thompson.
The difference is that half the side was changed at Vale Park, whereas Dave Jones made only three changes, two of them forced, for Tuesday’s tie.
The fact that the Owls fielded such a strong side was a compliment to the Millers and to their performance, which deserved the victory and not only because Ben Pringle and Lee Frecklington scored outstanding goals.
Wednesday’s pace aces Michail Antonio, Jacques Maghoma and Jeremy Helan were quickly closed down and rarely found much time or space on the ball.
Atdhe Nuhiu found it hard going in the air and on the deck against Karl Arnason, and all in all the Owls failed to make one clear-cut chance, before or after making three substitutions, with Jermaine Johnson, Gary Madine and Chris Maguire sent on.
Rhys McCabe’s long-range free kick was the Wednesday highlight by a long way, and Jones criticised the defending that preceded the two Rotherham goals
Rotherham showed urgency from the start and were already moving towards victory before Jermaine Johnson inexcusably got himself sent off in the 77th minute for aiming a head-butt at Pringle, and before Michail Antonio was booked for diving instead of being awarded a penalty for an 88th minute tackle by Arnason - another sore point for Jones.
It would not be much consolation, either, for the Owls that on the same night Brighton and Middlesbrough lost at home to Newport and Accrington respectively, Wolves went out at Morecambe, United lost at home to Burton and Ipswich were ko’d at Stevenage.
After the team’s encouraging display at QPR, Rafa Floro and McCabe came into the Owls side for Joe Mattock (knee) and Giles Coke (muscle soreness) while Maghoma ousted JJ from the starting line-up.
MILLERS (4-4-2): Shearer; Bradley, Arnason, Morgan, Skarz; Agard (Noble 90), O’Connor, Frecklington (Tidser 72), Pringle; Tubbs (Worrall 80), Revell. Unused subs: Brindley, Davis, Milsom, Collin.
OWLS (4-4-2): Kirkland; Palmer, Zayatte, Gardner, Floro (Maguire 70); Antonio, Prutton, McCabe, Helan; Nuhiu (Madine 52), Maghoma (J Johnson 58). Unused subs: Llera, Taylor, Semedo, Davies.