"We've got a habit of doing this here": Lee Bullen on Sheffield Wednesday's Carabao Cup win over Rotherham United
A last-gasp winner at the New York Stadium is nothing new for Sheffield Wednesday, a fact that was not lost on delighted caretaker boss Lee Bullen after their 1-0 derby win over Rotherham United.
The Scot presented a wry smile as he commented on the nature of the win, which was far from a classic but set the Owls up for a third round clash at home to Premier league Everton.
It was the club’s third injury time winner or equaliser in five years against Rotherham and supporters were heard singing “It’s happened again” as they filed out into the Rotherham concourses. Bullen admitted his side were far from their best.
He said: “Did we deserve to nick it? Probably not over the full 90 minutes, maybe based on the last 30 minutes of the game when we kept knocking on the door but we couldn’t get going at all.
“It had penalties written all over it from my point of view but we’ve got a hell of a horrible habit from Paul’s [Warne] point of view of scoring such late goals at this ground.”
Wednesday made nine changes and handed full debuts to new recruits Massimo Luongo and David Bates. Rotherham, fresh off a gameless 11 days after postponements against Bury and Portsmouth, set about the Championship side and were the better side for much of the match.
Bullen said: “It was down to Rotherham’s tempo and high press, but we knew that when we saw Rotherham’s team.
“They knew exactly what they were doing and we took a bit of a risk making nine changes but I took that as a ‘bigger picture’ decision and one making sure that some lads that needed gametime got it.
“Hindsight is great. If you lose it’s a bad decision but luckily we won the game and nobody remembers what happened once you’re through to the next round.”
While on the whole the impetus shown on the pitch was not quite befitting of a south Yorkshire derby, Bullen said he was delighted with the win and despite the fact the Millers are in the division below, counts this as a key victory in his third tenure as interim manager.
“Forget the division below stuff,” he said, “This is a local derby and we know the opposition want to beat us as much as we want to beat them, so forget what league they play in. They’ve caused us major problems over the past few seasons.
“Their press and tempo was very, very high but that eventually takes its toll and we had some quality to come in off the bench and I think that is probably what told in the end.
“When there’s 35 minutes left and you’re able to bring on [Barry] Bannan you start to get control of the game.”
That introduction of Bannan into the middle of midfield did seem to pay some dividends as his eye for a pass began to open up options out wide for Wednesday and in an otherwise uninspiring performance, his efforts allowed the Owls to have the better of the final quarter.
But it wasn’t only the midfielder, omitted by Scotland in their latest international squad, that Bullen reserved praise for.
He said: “I thought Massimo Luongo was excellent, David Bates in there had to stand up to a lot defensively but as the game went on started to show his qualities on the ball, young Jordan Thorniley was great.
“I’m so proud of the players, they showed different sides to themselves tonight and they did great.”