CAPTAIN Craig Morgan last night insisted the never-say-die spirit that has brought Rotherham United 15 points from last-minute goals this season could be the deciding factor in Sunday’s League One play-off final.
Around 18,000 Millers fans are set to descend on Wembley hoping their heroes can beat Leyton Orient and clinch a return to the Championship.
The two meetings in the regular season between the clubs ended in a victory apiece, with United triumphing at the New York Stadium in February courtesy of a stoppage-time winner from Alex Revell.
It was one of nine games in which Rotherham have either rescued a draw or claimed all three points thanks to scoring at the death and Morgan, ahead of his first appearance at Wembley, believes that indomitable spirit can carry Steve Evans’s men to victory.
The United captain said: “It was the front end of the season when I first thought we had something special in terms of spirit. A few things happened and what I noticed when we lost a game was that no one got too downhearted.
“We went straight into the next game and rarely lost two on the bounce. Maybe Swindon and Milton Keynes (in October). But even then we kicked on.
“To keep churning out late goals like we did after Christmas, some might call it fortunate but I think it was down to mental attitude.
“We’ve gained an extra 15 points through late goals this season. Teams can sometimes gain three or maybe five points. But not 15. It is not luck when you do something like that.”
United are bidding to win back-to-back promotions after finishing as League Two runners-up a year ago following a storming end to the season.
A measure of how well Evans’s men have done this term is that Gillingham, Port Vale and Bradford City all finished in mid-table having also left the basement division a year ago.
United’s tally of 86 points would also have been enough to clinch the title in 2012-13 when Doncaster Rovers finished top.
Morgan said: “Back-to-back promotions would be magnificent. I have done it before with Peterborough (between 2007 and 2009) and it was fantastic. But this would make it probably the proudest moment of my career.
“To captain a side to that sort of success would be fantastic. I would say it would be better than what we did at Peterborough.
“I have also been fortunate enough to play for my country. That was massive. But this will be at least equal to those moments.
“After the first year down there, it was sort of expected of us to go on and win promotion again. I wouldn’t say that has been the case with us this season.
“There was a hope it would happen but the expectation, if you can call it that, was maybe a push for the play-offs.
“Having said that, that was not how we felt inside the dressing room. We always felt we were better suited to League One than League Two. We felt before a ball was kicked that we would be able to give anyone a game.
“After the first 10 games and with the teams we played, we had a realisation that we would be serious contenders.”
With both Orient and the Millers finishing level on 86 points, the Londoners’ superior goal difference seeing Russell Slade’s men finish third, and both clubs having won one of the two meetings this term, there is clearly very little between the clubs going into Sunday’s final.
Morgan said: “We want the game to be today. We have prepared well and I am proud and excited as captain.
“It is going to be a day that I could only have dreamed about when starting out my career.
“Winning promotion last year was massive for this group. That experience will hold a small advantage because we went through something similar to this last year. It isn’t just me, either.
“There are five or six who have been there who can help. As for me, thoughts (about lifting the Cup) do wander into your head, but not too much. The two games against Leyton Orient were both very close this season and they have some good players.
“They are a very, very good side and this is going to be a massively exciting, edge-of-the-seats sort of game.”