Rotherham United 2 Sheffield Wednesday 1: Ten-man Owls lose out to resurgent Millers

Good things come to those who wait. And those who want it more.

Rotherham's Steve Evans celebrates

Rotherham United had failed to beat their near-neighbours Sheffield Wednesday on home soil for 37 years, a sequence spanning nine games.

All of those fixtures had taken place at Millmoor, half a mile up the road from the New York Stadium where the Millers are writing new chapters in their history.

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They began last season with a long overdue promotion from the basement division and continued banishing old memories to the scrapheap with a convincing win that made a mockery of the difference in status between the clubs.

With a performance full of purpose and poise, Rotherham dispatched Wednesday far more handsomely than the scoreline suggests. They were full value for the victory earned by wonderful strikes from Ben Pringle and Lee Frecklington.

But those first-half goals were just the tip of the iceberg of a 90-minute showing brimming with greater urgency than Wednesday could muster.

The Owls were lucky to be level for less than a quarter of the game thanks to Rhys McCabe’s free-kick. But their night was summed up when substitute Jermaine Johnson was sent off for a petulant head butt on Pringle, 18 minutes after he had been sent on to try and change the momentum of the game.

Dave Jones’s side were woeful, failing to mount sustained pressure of any sort in a cumbersome performance that leaves them still searching for a first win of the new season.

If Rotherham felt they had a point to prove about how far they have come as a club since the last time they hosted the Owls – at this stage of the League Cup six years ago – Evans said in the build-up that was not a motivation.

But chairman Tony Stewart left fans knowing exactly how he felt when he wrote in his programme notes “let’s prove that we really are the pride of South Yorkshire”.

And the team picked by Evans, including three changes from the side that draw at Crewe, certainly let no Millers fan down.

On the opposite side, trialist Rafael Floro was handed a debut after completing a one-year deal at Hillsborough before kick-off.

Kick-off was delayed 15 minutes because of crowd congestion as the fans filtered in slowly. Even with the delay, the simmering tension brought a frenetic opening, with Rotherham in particular looking the hungrier side.

Chris Kirkland knew little about the save he made on seven minutes from Matt Tubbs’s toe poke that smacked him in the face, after Alex Revell had climbed above Wednesday’s towering defence of Anthony Gardner and Kamil Zayatte.

Wednesday’s twin pillars were found wanting two minutes later when Zayatte was easily nudged out of the way by Revell from a long throw by Kari Arnason.

The ball sat up beautifully for Pringle on the corner of the area but he still had plenty to do as he lashed the ball first time beyond Kirkland and into the top corner.

Three sides of the New York Stadium erupted in delight and the jubilant Millers continued to bounce as their team poured forward, sensing the growing unease in the Wednesday ranks.

Revell was superb in the air, linking play and bringing in players all around him, a ploy Wednesday could do little about.

The visitors needed some respite, and somehow found it midway through the the opening half.

After a tidy passage, Michail Antonio was brought down by Kieran Agard 25 yards from goal, an infringement for which the Rotherham midfielder was booked.

McCabe lined up a free-kick in a central position and fired it through the wall and into Scott Shearer’s left-hand corner.

Coming when they had been so buoyant, the goal threatened to suck the air out of Rotherham’s early tempo.

And for a 10-minute spell when the Championship side began to exert a little muscle, it did.

But, before long, the hosts were back in full swing.

Eight minutes from the break, patient play on the edge of the box from Revell and Tubbs created a shooting chance for Frecklington, one the free-scoring midfielder dutifully accepted with a drilled shot through a ruck of bodies.

Kirkland then had to be alert to prevent Arnason’s back-post header beating him as Wednesday yearned for half-time.

After the break, Rotherham remained the superior side, with Pringle, Frecklington and Michael O’Connor probing, and Tubbs and Revell keeping the Owls defenders on their toes.

Jones threw on Gary Madine for Atdhe Nuhiu and Johnson for Maghoma before the hour to try and change the game.

The only thing Johnson accomplished was getting himself dismissed for a hot-headed reaction to being dispossessed by Pringle.

Referee Darren Drysdale at first missed the incident as he followed the ball upfield, but his fourth official Nigel Murphy called him back and Johnson was walking.

Any fight Wednesday had was gone, and Rotherham, looking more and more the side with better prospects for the season, saw out the game with the minimum of fuss and the maximum of celebration.

Rotherham United: Shearer, Bradley, Morgan, Arnason, Skarz; Agard (Noble 90), O’Connor, Frecklington (Tidser 72), Pringle; Revell, Tubbs (Worrall 81). Unused substitutes: Collin, Brindley, Davis, Milsom.

Sheffield Wednesday: Kirkland, Palmer, Gardner, Zayette, Floro (Maguire 70); Antonio, McCabe, Prutton, Helan; Maghoma (J Johnson 59), Nuhiu (Madine 52). Unused substitutes: Davies, Llera, Taylor, Semedo.

Referee: D Drysdale (Lincolnshire).