Sheffield United 0 Rotherham United 1: Millers rise to derby-day occasion to beat off-colour Blades

Sheffield United 0RWhen a Rotherham United side with more injuries than points from the last five games came to a Sheffield United team looking to go top of the table having impressively beaten the present occupants days earlier, there seemed only one possible winner.

The Millers had not won down the road since 1980.

Until, that is, you remember this is the Championship, where scorelines do as they please.

It was also a derby, where you have to leave logic and the door.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

And it was Rotherham, a side who almost always have as much spirit on show as an off licence stocked up for Christmas.

They needed all of it and a sprinkling of late luck, but the way they kept the Blades at bay in a second-half that was always going to be one-way was utterly deserving of their 1-0 win.

They won the midfield battle and defended stoutly to make sure that for all the hosts saw of the ball, Viktor Johansson was far from overworked.

To have been facing the prospect of ending part one of their season with a seven-match winless streak at Luton Town on Saturday would have been terrible but for the Millers but now they can take huge encouragement from their performance against two of the Championship's in-form forwards.

KILLER BLOW. Ben Wiles of Rotherham United scores the game's only goal past Wes FoderinghamKILLER BLOW. Ben Wiles of Rotherham United scores the game's only goal past Wes Foderingham
KILLER BLOW. Ben Wiles of Rotherham United scores the game's only goal past Wes Foderingham
Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Iliman Ndiaye had a very quiet night, Oli McBurnie a hugely frustrating one that ended with him hobbling around injured.

Sheffield United will demand to know from one another why they were not better, why they are still outside the automatic promotion places with only days before the division goes on hold for the World Cup.

But it is so difficult to continually go to the well in the Championship –especially when injuries have a tight grip on your squad – which is what makes it such an absorbing and unpredictable competition.

Rotherham managed to be patched up – six injuries to a squad of their size is the equivalent of the double figures the Blades have been battling against for most of the campaign – yet very sturdy.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

In choosing to leave Tom Eaves on the bench they built a yellow wall across the middle of the pitch, Ben Wiles dropping back from the hole to help out Peter Kioso, Jamie Lindsay, Dan Barlaser, Ollie Rathbone and Wes Harding when they needed it, but crucially keen to support Chiedoze Ogbene whenever he could too.

Not helped by stoppages which saw an interminable delay whilst one of the linesmen got his communication equipment working and an early injury for the Blades' John Fleck, the game was very slow to get going after the fireworks of Saturday, but that only made the Millers merrier.

Wes Foderingham fumbled an early Kioso cross, but it was scrambled clear so we had to wait until the 21st minute for the first shot of the game, McBurnie putting it weakly at Viktor Johansson.

Foderingham had to make a save minutes later, Cohen Bramall getting to the byline and Kioso heading into the turf to force a tip-over.As Ahmed Ahmedhodzic started to gallop forward from centre-back and Fleck's replacement James McAtee tried to find an opening in the wall rather than just clear it, Sheffield United looked to be getting to grips with the task in front of them.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Johansson had to claw a goalbound Oliver Norwood corner away, Lee Peltier blocked a McBurnie shot and Cameron Humphreys helped volley from an Ahmedhodizc cross that was just behind McBurnie to loop over.

Then came another defensive brainstorm from the Blades, with Jack Robinson at fault again, losing out to Ogbene in the scrap for a throw-in. The centre-forward picked Wiles out in a huge amount of space and he slotted home.

The Millers finished the half with strong penalty claims after Enda Stevens got clumsily tangled up behind Wiles but the referee ruled against them, and got an earful at half-time.

The Blades started the second half as they had on Saturday with one crucial difference, Johansson saving John Egan's volley.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

A rare chance at the other end ought to have been snaffled but Dan Barlaser's free-kick flew just in front of Ogbene.

Johansson saved low from McBurnie but generally the Blades had possession without punch.

They changed to 4-3-1-2 to find a way through and Billy Sharp instantly made a mark but only on Peltier as the frustration of the scoreline and Rathbone's clip got to him.

The save Johnasson had to make from substitute midfielder Basham's header was none too taxing either.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Fortune smiled on the Millers late on, Johnasson coming for and missing a corner but bailed out by his team-mates, and Sharp glancing a good headed chance wide before the ball went dead.

For only five minutes to be added on – although treatment for the injured McBurnie stretched it to seven – looked generous too.

But Rotherham deserved every last bit of it as they went 14th in the Championship.

Sheffield United: Foderingham; Ahmedhodzic (Basham 68), Egan, Robinson; Baldock, Osborn, Norwood, Fleck (McAtee 20 (Khadra 80)), Stevens (Sharp 68); Ndiaye, McBurnie. Unused substitutes: Davies, Clark, Arblaster.Rotherham United: Johansson; Peltier, Humphreys, Harding; Kioso (Norton-Cuffy 77), Lindsay (Eaves 89), Barlaser, Rathbone (Odoffin 89), Bramall; Wiles; Ogbene. Unused substitutes: Vickers, Wood, High, Douglas.Referee: K Stroud (Hampshire).