Verdict: Taylor and Newell combine to offer Wembley hope for Rotherham United

Rotherham United's Jon Taylor, left, celebrates scoring his side's first goal of the game in the  League One play-off semi-final first leg at Scunthorpe (Picture: Anthony Devlin/PA Wire).
Rotherham United's Jon Taylor, left, celebrates scoring his side's first goal of the game in the League One play-off semi-final first leg at Scunthorpe (Picture: Anthony Devlin/PA Wire).
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IT REMAINS to be seen for whom the bell tolls on Wednesday evening in Rotherham.

For Rotherham United winger Jon Taylor and his bookish room mate and fellow goalscorer Joe Newell, the devout hope is that there is another chapter or two to write yet in the Millers’ readable tome of 2017-18 and that it is a case of all’s well that ends well.

Given Saturday’s events, the two big friends are doing their level best to ensure that occurs. But a late twist in the tale applied by Scunthorpe’s loanee from Barnsley in Cameron McGeehan penned a fresh page in the story

Expect more compelling developments later this week.

READ MORE - Player Ratings: How the Millers’ players performed at Glanford Park

Just 42 miles separate these two old rivals and the margins between both promotion hopefuls are slight too.

Both had their moments to take the ascendancy on Saturday and while the Millers’ away draw should have guaranteed a touch more satisfaction, the narrative was changed by McGeehan’s late intervention.

It proved a day for the substitutes, with McGeehan’s bundled 88th-minute leveller registering his first goal in Scunthorpe colours following his loan move from Oakwell in January.

Previously, a dramatic introduction from another replacement in Newell, who found the net with his first touch just 58 seconds after entering the fray, put the Millers in the driving seat for the second time.

But Scunthorpe would not be denied and while succour was provided for both sides, the realisation that Wednesday could potentially be a long and nervy night for both clubs was inescapable.

Rotherham United's Joe Newell, centre, scores his side's second goal at Scunthorpe (Picture: Anthony Devlin/PA Wire).

Rotherham United's Joe Newell, centre, scores his side's second goal at Scunthorpe (Picture: Anthony Devlin/PA Wire).

Earlier, the Millers had luxuriated in the glow of a first-half lead for all of 28 seconds, given to them by Jon Taylor’s strike before Michael Ihiekwe’s ill-timed moment restored parity.

Taylor, whose 17th-minute strike justified his starting call before exiting the fray for fellow scorer Newell in the second period, said: “We took the lead twice, so we are a bit disappointed that we conceded. But we would have taken the result before the game.

“If you had said at the start of the season, you have got one game to win to get to Wembley, everyone would have taken that.

“I was pleased for Joe. I said to him that it counts as an assist from me, coming off and he comes on first time and scores,

I was pleased for Joe. I said to him that it counts as an assist from me, coming off and he comes on first time and scores,

Jon Taylor

“He is my best mate, so I was over the moon for him. What more do you want than come on and score with a first touch in front of our fans. It is unbelievable that feeling he must have got.

“We are room mates and I don’t get any sleep as he snores and reads books until one o’clock in the morning to get to sleep. He has the light on and it gets hot and sweaty and I have earplugs. I don’t really like sharing with him...

“We did not stay over on Friday night and travelled in on Saturday morning. So luckily enough, I did not have to stay with him.”

Offering his take on developments, Newell added: “With them scoring late on, the momentum is kind of with them. But we would have taken the draw before the game and I cannot lie and say we are underdogs. But I think they will be confident as well.”

The fuse was lit on a see-saw day by Taylor’s opener, with the winger catching Murray Wallace unawares following Richie Towell’s ball over the top before steering the ball low past Matt Gilks.

Considerable celebrations ensued in the away section, with the remnants of a red smoke bomb still lingering when Scunthorpe drew level almost immediately.

Hakeeb Adelakun’s dancing feet were too much for Joe Mattock and his cutting pass sent Duane Holmes clear and after lifting a delicate shot over the advancing Marek Rodak, Ihiekwe – in a moment of blind panic – could only divert an effort that looked like it was going narrowly wide into his own net. For perhaps the only time, the Millers were in danger of creaking with only the woodwork denying Rory McArdle a from close range.

McArdle was then thwarted by a point-blank save early in the second half, with the poise and elegance of Newell providing the next significant development as he fired past replacement goalkeeper Rory Watson, whose first duty was to pick the ball out of the net after replacing the injured Gilks.

Towell’s acrobatic attempt from Josh Emmanuel’s centre failed to deliver, but it did provide an unwitting assist with the ball finding Newell, whose drilled finish was emphatic and true.

Aside from a rebound from Ivan Toney which hit the outside of the post, the Millers were comfortable enough, only for a sloppy moment at the death to place the tie back into the melting pot.

A long throw was not dealt with and amid the commotion, McGeehan bundled in at the second attempt. All roads lead back to Rotherham for Paul Warne and ex-Millers team-mate Nick Daws.

Warne said: “If you had have given me a draw before the game, I’d have been happy with that. It was an edgy game. To come away 2-1 up would have been a great result, but I cannot be greedy.

“It was funny. I said to Dawsy on 90 minutes: ‘Would you take a 2-2 now?’ He went: ‘Yeah’, and I said: ‘Cor, would I!”