Only penalties separated two play-off rivals

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JUST like this Sunday, the margins between Rotherham United and Leyton Orient were wafer-thin when they lined up at Millmoor on May 19, 1999.

The regular season in 1998-99 saw the pair separated by one place and one point, with the Millers having home advantage for the second leg of their Division Three play-off semi-final after finishing one place above the O’s in fifth spot.

After a 0-0 draw in the first leg in London three days earlier, fans who attended the biggest game at Millmoor in over a decade witnessed another tense occasion.

It was a game of few opportunities with defender Paul Hurst spurning a chance to make himself a hero before the end of normal time before an even more painful moment in the lottery of penalties in front of a crowd of 9,529.

The Millers drew first blood in the shoot-out with experienced midfielder Steve Thompson firing home down the middle of Scott Barrett’s goal before O’s defender Dean Smith did exactly the same.

Andy Roscoe, with his last kick for the club, was then denied by Barrett, with Martin Ling firing home to give the O’s a 2-1 lead.

Hurst failed to atone for his late miss with Barrett saving, and David Morrison then making it 3-1.

Substitute Mark Williams pulled one back for the Millers before Matt Lockwood sent Mike Pollitt the wrong way to book a trip to Wembley for Tommy Taylor’s side.