THE sun was out, metaphorically speaking at least last night, but for Rotherham United and not Darko Milanic.
Ahead of the game, the Whites’ Slovenian head coach, without a win in his three games in charge, stated that his first victory would be akin to seeing the sun again. Truth is, the nights are drawing in.
Rotherham’s home clashes with Leeds tend to be dramatic and this was no exception with Steve Evans’s side producing a powerhouse second-half display which floored Leeds.
This after Leeds dominated much of the first half in which Mirco Antenucci fired them ahead on the half hour.
Alex Revell’s first goal of the season and first since his magnificent Wembley equaliser in the League Two play-off final against Leyton Orient plus a maiden Millers strike from record signing Jonson-Clarke Harris – just under two minutes after coming on and with his first telling touch – earned another joyous victory for the Millers.
While the Millers rode their luck to triumph on the previous league meeting between the clubs almost a decade ago, this was not a factor last night.
BBC Sports’ recent Price of Football Survey may have identified Rotherham as the most expensive match-day experience in Yorkshire, but it was cheap at half the price for home supporters last night.
For Leeds, who suffered televised derby misery earlier this term at Bradford City, there was again the pain of going ahead but ultimately being swept away.
The main saving grace was the late cameo of Adryan, bizarrely named in the line-up and then appearing on the bench on the official teamsheet.
Evans labelled the game as the biggest league occasion in the history of the Millers’ £20m stadium since its opening in July 2012. And the hosts followed up their victory over another former champion in Blackburn Rovers in their previous home game to draw level on points with Leeds.
It left Milanic still awaiting the sensation of victory as head coach and while upward trajectory was provided in the first half, it was the Millers who ultimately had the answers.
The pre-match mystery surrounded Adryan not starting, with Lewis Cook instead deployed in an advanced attacking role and the teenager was at the hub of a controlled opening half-hour from the visitors. The display was crowned by a sweetly-taken opener when Antenucci latched onto Souleymane’s Doukara’s slide-rule pass before coolly steering the ball home.
While many had been expecting an aggressive opening from the hosts, it was Leeds who set about the Millers, swarming all over them in midfield. Antenucci fired just wide from close in after good work by Alex Mowatt and it proved an early warning.
Enjoying plenty of possession, Leeds enjoyed a semblance of relative calm they probably had not envisaged with a rare moment of home threat coming when Matt Derbyshire saw his low shot held by Silvestri.
A polished Leeds opener then arrived with the Millers provided with more to ponder after a half when things rarely clicked.
Leeds did survive one moment of alarm before the interval when Ben Pringle’s cross was latched onto by Revell, whose precision header was clawed away by Silvestri.
The energetic Rudy Austin then blasted wide before gloss was almost put on a vibrant Leeds half with only last-ditch defending from Joe Skarz denying Doukara.
Leeds’s half it was with Milanic’s tactics working well, and the Millers will have been grateful they were staring at just a one-goal deficit at the interval.
Evans played his first hand at half-time, sending on Paul Taylor for the quiet Hall and it helped provide some badly-needed impetus.
Taylor saw a free-kick beaten away by Silvestri before Revell headed over with the visitors forced to dig in.
Mowatt shot at Collin when well-placed, but soon after the Millers, suddenly resembling their old selves, restored parity on 58 minutes.
Boyhood Leeds fan Frecklington saw his angled shot turned away by Silvestri with Revell converting the rebound.
Scenting hesistancy in the Leeds ranks, the Millers went for the jugular and the increasingly nervy visitors wilted seven minutes later when Clarke-Harris produced his magic moment out of nothing with a fierce long-range shot.
The call then came for Adryan, with the Brazilian soon going close with a low shot which was turned away onto a post by Collin before Clarke-Harris headed at Silvestri.
Adyran hit another effort wide before Revell almost sealed it with a late third. But it was Rotherham’s night. Again.
Rotherham United: Collin; Richardson, Morgan, Arnason, Skarz; Hall (P Taylor 45), Frecklington, Green, Pringle (Smallwood 81); Derbyshire (Clarke-Harris 63), Revell. Unused substitutes: Loach, Broadfoot, Bowery, Swift.
Leeds United: Silvestri; Berardi, Bellusci, Pearce, Warnock; Austin, Bianchi (Morison 88); Mowatt, Cook (Adryan 63), Doukara (Sharp 76); Antenucci. Unused substitutes: S Taylor, Byram, Cooper, Sloth.
Referee: K Stroud (Dorset).