YORKSHIRE’S proud boast of having contested a play-off final in all but one of the last 16 years is intact thanks to Rotherham United.
The Millers, flying the White Rose flag solo this term in the end-of-season promotion deciders, booked their trip to Wembley via a goal either side of half-time from Richard Wood and Will Vaulks.
Shrewsbury Town await in the May 27 final but Paul Warne’s men will fancy their chances of claiming an instant return to the Championship following the impressive manner in which Scunthorpe United were dispatched over two legs.
Having been the better side at Glanford Park last Saturday only to be undone by two poor defensive errors, Rotherham last night ensured there was to be no second chance for an Iron side that ended the game down to 10 men following the dismissal of captain Rory McArdle.
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Sure, the Lincolnshire outfit started brightly and then created a flurry of chances midway through the second half.
But a typically resilient effort from the home side ensured that storm of Iron pressure was ridden out.
Captain Wood typified that never-say-die spirit but he was far from alone in being a hero with everyone in a red shirt playing their part.
As did the man in day-glo orange, goalkeeper Marek Rodak twice denying Duane Holmes as Scunthorpe threw everything at the hosts in the hope of finding a way back into the tie.
A year ago, Rotherham, slid out of the second tier in ignominious fashion with a series of unwanted records to their name. It felt like the club would take years to recover.Richard Sutcliffe
All in all, therefore, a hugely satisfying night for Warne, who deserves the utmost praise for the huge turnaround in fortunes at the New York Stadium over the past 12 months.
A year ago, Rotherham, slid out of the second tier in ignominious fashion with a series of unwanted records to their name.
It felt like the club would take years to recover. But, under the club’s former fitness coach, the transformation has been nothing short of remarkable. Warne fully deserved the adoration of the supporters who chanted his name after pouring on to the field at the final whistle.
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His task now is ensure Rotherham finish the job at Wembley in what will be a re-run of the 1996 Football League Trophy final.
The Millers triumphed 2-1 under the Twin Towers that day and their third trip to the re-built national stadium in eight years was as good as sealed shortly after the hour mark last night.
Wood made the all-important breakthrough two minutes into first-half stoppage time. It was a simple affair but one that also owed much to Wood’s tenacity as he leapt above Ivan Toney to head Vaulks’s long throw beyond Rory Watson.
It capped a storming finish to the first half by the hosts that had seen Joe Mattock head wide when well placed and Richie Towell denied by a wonderful save from Watson.
Michael Ihiekwe had also come close to finding the net with the second of two efforts in quick succession that was diverted behind by Murray Wallace.
Rotherham doubled their advantage just after the hour, as a neat passing move saw Josh Emanuel released down the right flank. His drilled cross was half cleared to Vaulks, who did the rest with a shot beyond Watson. The first chants of ‘que sera sera…’ could be heard moments later.
Not since 2006-07 had the play-off finals gone ahead without at least one Yorkshire club involved and the job was almost done.
There was, though, still that late onslaught from Scunthorpe to contend with before the celebrations could begin.
First, Toney saw an effort brilliantly blocked by Wood after Josh Morris had found the former Barnsley loanee with a drilled cross.
His chance came just 60 seconds after Vaulks had opened up a two-goal advantage and it kick-started a siege of the home goal.
Mattock was the next to rescue the home side with a brave block that again led to an exasperated Toney throwing his arms up in the air.
Rodak, making his one mistake of the night, then rashly raced from his line but, again, Toney could not take advantage as Wood pulled off another fine block.
Homes’s turn to be frustrated came next, Rodak this time doing the honours, just a couple of minutes after Cameron McGeehan had wastefully headed wide for the visitors.
It proved to be the last hurrah for a Scunthorpe side who were reduced to 10 men when former Bradford City defender McArdle clattered into Joe Newell to earn a second yellow card.
Thirteen minutes remained but the party could finally begin.
Rotherham United: Rodak; Emmanuel, Wood, Ihiekwe (Ajayi 52), Mattock; Vaulks; Williams (Taylor 68), Towell, Palmer, Newell (Forde 89); Smith. Unused substitutes: Price, Ball, Purrington, Lavery.
Scunthorpe United: Watson; Vermijl, Wallace, McArdle, Townsend; Holmes, Ojo, Yates (Hopper 83), Morris; Adelakun (McGeehan. 62), Toney (Novak 80). Unused substitutes: Kelsey, Bishop, Burgess, Sutton.
Referee: S Duncan (Northumberland).