Rotherham United 2 Doncaster Rovers 1: A Disney ending for Paul Warne - but nothing Mickey Mouse in it

'I was thinking if it goes in then this is like Walt Disney stuff.'

Sunday, 25th February 2018, 6:52 pm
Updated Sunday, 25th February 2018, 6:55 pm
Ben Whiteman covers his face after Rovers lost to a last minute penalty

Paul Warne stood on the sidelines waiting for Joe Newell to write the fairytale ending for Rotherham United.

A few yards away stood Darren Ferguson, dreading the likely conclusion to a story which for so long was so happy but destined to end in gut-wrenching disappointment.

Joe Newell celebrates with a fan after his last minute penalty secured victory

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The highs and lows of a South Yorkshire derby. A fairytale for one. A nightmare for the other.

In pure entertainment purposes, Disney would have a flop on their hands if they had served this up to the wider public.

But with the thrills and spills of a blood and thunder derby, they would have a rollercoaster ride worthy of one of their theme parks.

Either way, this was a memorable spectacle played out over the best part of two hours.

Star man Richie Towell

It looked as if the plucky underdogs of Doncaster Rovers would have their day.

But the unstoppable force of Rotherham United ensured a dramatic denouement.

There was a feeling of deja vu at the death as the Millers had the last laugh - just as they had in November’s prequel.

Over 200 combined minutes from two games played, Rovers led for 189 of them. Yet they finished with just a single point from six available.

Joe Newell celebrates with a fan after his last minute penalty secured victory

These two sides entered the League One stage this season coming from opposite directions.

On the strength of Saturday’s meeting, only one looks like it may exit the division at the earliest possible opportunity.

Despite their cruel, late disappointment, Doncaster showed more than enough for the vast majority of the 103 minutes played to suggest crossing the survival line should be little problem.

They stuck to a successful game plan, one written with Ferguson foregoing his usual footballing principles in order to get the job done.

Star man Richie Towell

Rovers played Rotherham at their own game, deploying sheer relentlessness to unsettle their hosts. And it worked.

And it looked like they had done enough to take the win, courtesy of a fine strike from John Marquis which came after the striker had forced an error from Semi Ajayi.

Battle as Doncaster did and picking up the handful of wins they need to remain in the division is well within reach.

That they did not manage to add one of those wins on Saturday came down to their own errors in added time plus the impenetrable power of a Rotherham side more suited to Disney’s recently acquired superhero arm than their fairytale tradition.

The Millers look almost certain to make the play-offs and you would not back against them if they make it.

They have found a groove now where even when it seems like things are not going their way, they actually are.

There was a crushing inevitability that - even after being nowhere near as imposing a force as they had been in previous weeks - they would get something from the game once it entered 13 minutes of injury time.

Lengthy treatment spells for Rovers duo Alfie Beetin and Tom Anderson, in particularly, paved the way for the added time.

And just three minutes in Rotherham struck with a powerful header from Michael Smith.

The Millers had found their white knight, one who would only add to his reputation when he won a penalty in the final added minute.

Joe Wright’s hesitation with a clearance led to the incident but Smith spotted an opportunity, racing after a ball which goalkeeper Marko Marosi had little chance of making and tumbling under the challenge.

It set the stage for Newell to make the magic happen for the Millers and he did just that with a confident finish from the spot.

For Rotherham, it was akin to the bolt of lightning which flung the Evil Queen off the cliff just as she was about to send a bolder crashing onto the Seven Dwarfs.

For Doncaster, it was as heartbreaking as Scar flinging Mufasa of the side of the gorge to his death - and arguably as unjust.

Warne got his Disney ending.

But the best one may be yet to come.