SHOULD Rotherham United require any extra inspiration ahead of today’s big relegation ‘six-pointer’ at Reading, they will find it in events from the corresponding weekend of last year.
February 24, 2018 will be long recalled by Millers supporters, who saw their side score two stoppage-time goals to break the hearts of neighbours Doncaster Rovers, who had led 1-0 down after 90 minutes of their South Yorkshire derby.
It was a reminder of the values of unquenchable spirit, resolve and a never-say-die attitude and was widely cited as a key moment in the Millers’ promotion campaign.
Twelve months on and the present-day Millers will need plenty of those qualities to make this season a similar success and secure their cherished Championship status for 2019-20.
That afternoon against Rovers may have been an occasion when the hosts were not at their best, but their sheer will and force of personality eventually enabled them to triumph in a famous 2-1 victory, which served as a reminder of the importance of holding your nerve.
While everyone connected with the Millers was left rather more sore by the similarly late developments in a home derby last weekend, when Sheffield Wednesday secured a dramatic point deep into stoppage-time, there should also be the acknowledgement that Paul Warne’s troops have cast aside plenty of adversity in the past.
I do have a group of lads who are together. We try and keep the messages consistent, we motivate them and, over the course of the season, I think we have been really good. I am really pleased with what we are doing.Paul Warne
Coming back from two goals to earn what could prove to be a priceless point in their last Championship away outing at Hull City is a case in point.
That character and mettle is also likely to be needed in today’s encounter against a Royals side who are one place above them in the table and lead them on goal difference alone.
Warne, who scored a late winner against Reading at Millmoor in the 2004-05 season – a campaign which saw the Millers win just three league games on home soil – commented: “I do have a group of lads who are together.
“We try and keep the messages consistent, we motivate them and, over the course of the season, I think we have been really good. I am really pleased with what we are doing.
“I thought we were good away at Millwall. We were excellent in parts at home to Wigan and I thought we were fantastic all game on Saturday.
“I understand the disappointment at conceding in the last second, but we cannot be disappointed with the performance, effort and commitment of the lads. We caused them no end of problems, which is something to build on.”
History is not exactly on Rotherham’s side today, with Reading being a far from happy hunting ground for the Millers, who have never won at the Royals’ Madejski Stadium home.
They head south on the back of a run of 16 games without a win in Reading, with their last success coming 3-0 at the old Elm Park in May, 1977, courtesy of a Trevor Phillips hat-trick.
How the Millers could do with a latter-day hero in this quarter of Berkshire today.