Rotherham United beat Sheffield Wednesday two goalscorers to nil

Rotherham United won the South Yorkshire derby by two goalscorers to nil.

Sheffield Wednesday were the better team all game at Hillsborough, but football is about goals, not passes or possession.

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When collector's item chances fell to Freddie Ladapo and Michael Smith, they took them. The much more regular flow of opportunities at the other end tended to end up being hit straight at Josh Vickers.

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BATTLE: Callum Paterson shields the ball from Rotherham United captain Richard WoodBATTLE: Callum Paterson shields the ball from Rotherham United captain Richard Wood
BATTLE: Callum Paterson shields the ball from Rotherham United captain Richard Wood

You have to do better than that to beat the team top of League One, now seven matches unbeaten. The six that have come in the league have all featured clean sheets.

A 2-0 defeat was harsh on an Owls team who might well have won had either Lee Gregory or Josh Windass been fit but they were not. Rotherham were without an injured goal-getter of their own in Will Grigg.

They surprisingly brought in Ladapo for only a second league start since his misjudged transfer request came to light in early January. His selection ahead of Josh Kayode may well have had a lt to do with the fact Ladapo wrote himself into Hillsborough folklore with a dramatic stoppage-time winning goal on the famous old ground 11 months ago.

Now Ladapo knows what it is like to score a derby goal in front of a packed and passionate away end, rather than in a sterile, behind-closed-door encounter.

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Smith, though, is Rotherham's goalscoring talisman and as the Owls kept you doubting about the outcome of this match by keeping up the pressure on Vickers's goal, he ended all questions with a wonderfully-precise 84th-minute goal.

That is why they are top of the league, and why it is getting harder by the week to imagine them being knocked off their perch.

It burst the balloon Wednesday had been blowing up lately with four straight wins backed up by clean sheets. They ought to be able to make the play-offs but there are no guarantees.

Their chances will be much better the quicker Gregory and Windass are back on the pitch.

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The match was played in difficult conditions with the rain that had been falling all weekend making the main stand wing of the pitch squelchy but it was obvious immediately this would be a full-blooded affair after last season's behind-closed-doors meetings.

The game was just three minutes old when Barry Bannan sprinted over the mud as Wednesday got the ball clear from a corner, roared on by the majority of a 26,418 crowd. When Jamie Lindsay - who looked a better option in the conditions than Ollie Rathbone but made way for him at half-time - kept pace and won the ball, the away fans cheered their approval too.

Rotherham had been quicker out of the blocks, but their hosts quickly took control of the game.

They were at their most effective when they moved the ball quickly from one end of the field to another, Massimo Luongo releasing Jack Hunt with an excellent long pass. The wing-back won a corner Sam Hutchinson headed wide.

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Nathaniel Mendez-Laing was a constant threat in a hybrid position somewhere between Callum Paterson's strike partner and right winger. He came in from there in the 13th minute to hit a shot at Josh Vickers, and did the same when picked out by Patterson.

When Liam Palmer released Paterson with a good ball, the striker turned the ball inside for Bannan, playing in the hole, to run onto and shoot wide.

Even the Owls defenders were looking for a piece of the attacking action, Hunt coming inside to shoot at the goalkeeper, and Palmer striking a solid shot at him having got a taste of it with a deflected effort. The only problem for the Owls was that even in the wet conditions, they were not making life difficult enough for the visiting goalkeeper.

The Millers, though, were too passive, offering little after Ben Wiles glanced a cross from Chiedozie Ogbene wide in the sixth minute.

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Wednesday felt hard done by in conceding a 60th-minute corner but it was their own fault they conceded from it, leaving Ben Wiles to run from deep onto Dan Barlaser's delivery and touch it on for Ladapo to put in like a proper centre-forward.

The Owls kept plugging away. Bannan forced a good save from a free-kick two minutes later and Shane Ferguson had to defend brilliantly when Marvin Johnson put in a wonderful cross.

That corner was well worked too, but Hunt ballooned his shot from the back of the penalty area.

Generally, though, Rotherham were not made to work hard enough. Mendez-Laing went through one-on-one in the 74th minute but made it too easy for Vickers.

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You wondered if the Owls would get just one finish right but instead the Millers produced another out-of-the-blue finish when a free-kick found its way to Smith, with little room to work a shot in. There was enough, though, curling a brilliant finish which left Bailey Peacock-Farrell no chance.

In aspects of the game, the Owls were the better side. In the one that matters, the Millers were.

Sheffield Wednesday: Peacock-Farrell; Storey, Hutchinson, Palmer; Hunt (Sow 78), Byers, Luongo, Johnson; Bannan (Brown 87); Paterson, Mendez-Laing (Kamberi 84).

Unused substitutes: Berahino, Waldock, Wildsmith, Brennan.

Rotherham United: Vickers; Ihiekwe, Wood, Harding; Barlaser; Ogbene, Lindsay (Rathbone 46), Wiles, Ferguson (Osei-Tutu, 78); Smith, Ladapo (Mattock 87).

Unused substitutes: Johansson, Kayode, MacDonald, Odoffin.

Referee: D Drysdale (Lincolnshire)

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