Rotherham United not throwing the Towell in despite being denied by Sheffield Wednesday...yet again

Stolen moment: Dominic Iorfa can scarcely believe it as he applauds the Wednesday fans following his equaliser deep into injury time. (Picture: Steve Ellis)
Stolen moment: Dominic Iorfa can scarcely believe it as he applauds the Wednesday fans following his equaliser deep into injury time. (Picture: Steve Ellis)
0
Have your say

DEATH, taxes and Rotherham United being left frustrated in their efforts to beat Sheffield Wednesday in league combat on home soil.

These, it seems, are three certainties in life after the Millers’ latest hopes of getting one over their neighbours were dashed in the most dramatic of fashions.

Dominic Iorfa’s equaliser in the tenth minute of stoppage-time means Wednesday’s 43-year unbeaten league run at both Millmoor and the New York Stadium remains intact.

Nine of those dozen trips have ended in victory for the Owls, a remarkable record in a derby so keenly fought on the part of United that new manager Steve Bruce warned his players beforehand that the locals would be treating the game like “their cup final”.

Those comments riled Millers fans during the build-up, but not half as much as the late, late leveller from Iorfa on debut that rescued an undeserved draw for the visitors.

Fuelling this annoyance was the knowledge that manager Paul Warne’s men had dominated an entertaining derby contest only for the familiar failing of not being able to see out a game to come back and haunt their team.

Rotherham's Richie Towell celebrates after putting the Millers 2-1 up at New York Stadium against Wednesday (Picture: Dean Atkins).

Rotherham's Richie Towell celebrates after putting the Millers 2-1 up at New York Stadium against Wednesday (Picture: Dean Atkins).

This was the sixth time Rotherham had dropped points by conceding in the final five minutes of a game this season. Nine points have been lost as a result, a tally only partly offset by the two draws and a victory the Millers have rescued with late goals of their own.

Should Rotherham’s fight for survival be lost come May it will be difficult not to point the finger at afternoons such as the one that allowed Wednesday to preserve their unbeaten league run in the town.

For now, though, Richie Towell is adamant that the Millers can avoid an instant return to League One. “We felt sick,” said the Brighton & Hove Albion loanee. “We definitely deserved three points, no doubt about it.

“But we can take positives because Sheffield Wednesday have some good players and a good manager. We have shown what we can do against them and we must take those positives into our next game.

What we play football for is to score in the last minute and celebrate with your supporters. Why didn’t the ref send off the other 10 who were jumping in the crowd as well?

Steve Bruce

“The gaffer always tries to look on the bright side. We were all down afterwards in the dressing room, but he came in and told us that if we play like that every week and continue to work for each other we will be fine. There is no doubt in my mind that if we play like that we will stay in the Championship.”

Iorfa’s debut goal for Wednesday sparked scenes of jubilation among the 2,625 travelling fans that were so wild that Fernando Forestieri could not help but be dragged into the melee.

Most of his team-mates were also mobbed by supporters, but referee Darren England picked out the Argentinian and showed him a second yellow card to leave Owls manager Bruce incandescent with fury.

“What we play football for is to score in the last minute and celebrate with your supporters,” he said. “Why didn’t the ref send off the other 10 who were jumping in the crowd as well? It didn’t make sense, especially when someone (Michael Ihiekwe) has tried to break Forestieri in half on the halfway line.”

Sheffield Wednesday's last-ditch goal hero Dominic Iorfa (Picture: Steve Ellis)

Sheffield Wednesday's last-ditch goal hero Dominic Iorfa (Picture: Steve Ellis)

Ihiekwe’s cynical scything down of Forestieri as he threatened to scamper clear came just after the hour. A booking seemed the right call in this instance, not least because the foul had come 50 yards from goal and there were a couple in red sufficiently handily placed to at least get across and cover.

What the yellow card did do is leave Ihiekwe walking the same disciplinary tightrope as not only both Millers full-backs Joe Mattock and Billy Jones, but also defensive midfielder Semi Ajayi.

For Rotherham to overcome such a potential handicap to resume the control they had enjoyed for much of the first half was to their credit. It should also have been enough to win the game.

That it was not could be put down to profligacy on the part of the hosts. Michael Smith set the tone in the first half by side-footing wide from 12 yards. But Anthony Forde should also have done better when through one-on-one with Keiren Westwood.

Wednesday punished these misses when Forestieri opened the scoring on 36 minutes, the Argentinian set up by Adam Reach just moments after the winger had hit a post.

Rotherham replied within 86 seconds, Smith turning creator with a cross that Jon Taylor gleefully volleyed into the net.

But the clinical edge required to kill off the below-par Owls was again absent for much of the second half as Smith once more failed to hit the target when found by Ryan Williams.

Ajayi was unfortunate to see Reach clear his header off the line, but Towell was another who should have done better after being set up by a surging 50-yard run from Will Vaulks.

Towell did make amends 16 minutes from time when he swept Joe Newell’s deflected cross beyond Westwood and into the net off a post, but Iorfa had the last laugh by displaying sufficient determination to reach Morgan Fox’s downward header.

“My debut could not have been any better,” said the 23-year-old defender, only brought on in the 90th minute after Jordan Thorniley had been left dazed by a clash of heads.

“Emotions were running high with a few fans running on the pitch. It was relief. We had not been at our best. I don’t know why. Rotherham play a lot of long balls and make it a bit of a scrap.

“We never got our own game going. We played their kind of game, which suited them, but the positive we take is we did not lose.”