Match Analysis: How Rotherham exposed and exploited one of Sheffield United's biggest weaknesses during a pulsating South Yorkshire derby despite Dean Henderson's heroicsÂ
Paul Warne spent Saturday night watching Bring Me the Horizon play an arena gig in Leeds. Forty-miles south, while his opposite number was busy crowd surfing, Chris Wilder could be found locked away at home plotting a Sunday morning training session at the Steelphalt Academy.
Two different scenes, two markedly different schedules, which told you everything about their respective team's performances during this pulsating match.
For Rotherham, it provided further evidence of their ability to both compete in the Championship and refusal to be intimidated by reputations, stature or league position. United, who were indebted to goalkeeper Dean Henderson for ensuring Warne's side only took a point, will use events inside New York Stadium as a reminder even the slightest lapse can have painful consequences. Let alone one as big as the comedy of errors which presented Jamie Proctor with his 92nd minute equaliser.
"Maybe we thought it was going to be easier," said Henderson, laying the blame for United's failure to win the fixture squarely at their own door. "It's decided in our changing room. If we turn up, we win the game because we're the better team. I can assure you of that."
If Henderson was correct and complacency played a part in United's failure to secure the win which would have seen them briefly seize control of the race for Premier League football, it explains Wilder's demeanor afterwards. The visitors' manager, who had earlier twice watched his side surrender the lead, cut a dispirited figure as he contrasted their carelessness with the opposition's refusal to deviate from the game plan Warne had devised.
It was a theme Henderson was also happy to run with after being required to make a series of memorable saves.
"When we played (Sheffield) Wednesday in the derby a couple of weeks ago, we terrorised them," he said. "No one can get near us when we play like that. It could have been 6-0, seriously.
Then we come to Rotherham, who have just been promoted from League One, and we don't turn up which is frustrating."
"It's an honest changing room and we know what we've got to improve on," Henderson continued. "We've got to learn how to see games out and, as good as we are, we're not doing that."
There could be no such complaints about Rotherham's performance as they salvaged a draw with only seconds to spare. Having fallen behind when Mark Duffy produced a moment of individual brilliance, Jon Taylor dragged them back on level terms before Chris Basham restored United's advantage.
But in the second minute of added time, as Warne's men appeared destined for their first home defeat since August, Proctor pounced following some shambolic defending in front of Henderson. The goal was a gift but one Rotherham certainly deserved.
"To be brutally honest, what others say doesn't bother us," the former Fleetwood Town centre-forward said, revealing what is fuelling his team mate's survival bid. "We can sort of understand where people are coming from if they do say it.
"Okay, it could be seen as a little bit disrespectful. But, to those outside our club, they simply look at the budgets and attendances. They automatically see us a weaker side and that we should get relegated. "But, as has been proved over the years,that is not true at all. The group we have and the staff we have, we never roll over for anyone."
In truth, United's refusal to depart from the methods which have served them so well over the past two-and-a-half seasons contributed to their problems every bit as much as their neighbours' tenacity and sense of purpose. Duffy's finish, as he stepped past Clark Robertson before beating Marek Rodak, was exquisite and Basham's far post intervention, from Billy Sharp's cross, expertly crafted.
But while United seemed intent on scoring the perfect effort, Rotherham reminded any goal would do. Taylor's shot deflected past Henderson but, after an aerial bombardment had brought the best out of the youngster, a string of poor decisions left him horribly exposed. Two chances to clear the ball were missed before Proctor pounced.
"To be fair to Rotherham, they made it hard for us," Henderson, who denied Semi Ajayi, Robertson and Taylor with excellent blocks, said. "All of our lads tried their best but they turned it into a basketball match and we got dragged in. We've just got to tidy things up."
Henderson's synopsis was a perfect as his performance. And so was the one delivered by Proctor.
"The game deserved a finish like that," he said. "We definitely deserved the minimum of a point. Maybe all three on another day. Their '˜keeper was brilliant.Â Â
'Even if we had lost, the display was a real one. We stuck to our gameplan and teams are now starting to realise what we are good at."
Rotherham United: Rodak, Vyner (Vassell 86), Mattock, Vaulks, Ajayi, Taylor, Towell, Robertson, Manning (Newell 63), Williams (Proctor 86), Smith. Not used: Price, Wood, Palmer, Proctor, Vassell, Wiles.Sheffield United: Henderson, Basham, Egan, O'Connell, Stevens, Freeman, Norwood, Fleck, Duffy (Stearman 86), McGoldrick (Clarke 63), Sharp (Johnson 89). Not used: Moore, Baldock, Coutts, Washington.Referee: P BankesAttendance: 11,607