The game was into its seventh added minute with a minimum six having been tagged on when Freddie Ladapo’s terrific finish won it for the Millers, down to 10 men after Smith’s red card.
Whether the fact the Owls played such good football in Darren Moore’s first game in charge made it better or worse was debatable. There were certainly reasons for encouragement for the new manager but they need to learn a thing or two about being clinical from the spirited visitors, who are three points from Championship safety with two games in hand.
They will, though, be without the suspended Smith for the next three games after a straight red card. Until his sending off on 67 minutes it looked like he would be the match-winner. From then until Ladapo’s strike it seemed he might cost his side two points, maybe three.
Rotherham’s first goal was uncomplicated and beautiful.
Lewis Wing won the ball high up the pitch and fed it out to Florian Jozefzoon, whose excellent cross was met by a leaping Smith, guiding it inside the far post.
Wing’s midfield tenacity ought to have made a second goal five minutes before half-time when he combined it with a lovely turn and a shot thudded against the base of the post, with Joe Wildsmith beaten.
Wednesday lined up in Moore’s favourite formation, 4-2-3-1 with Barry Bannan in the hole, centre-forward Callum Paterson dropping off the front to link up the play and the full-backs high, which would be key to their goal.
Sam Hutchinson had a header saved from an early corner and Paterson shot wide from the next. It would be typical of the hosts’ nearly moments in the first 80 minutes. Bannan skied a shot from Liam Shaw’s pull-back from the left.
Angus MacDonald and Smith dealt well with curling deliveries from Liam Palmer and Paterson.
But it was when they went more direct that Wednesday had their best chance of the first half, Julian Borner picking Paterson out, but the striker shooting wide as Viktor Johansson stumbled.
Wes Harding blocked a shot from Josh Windass, selected on the left wing.
For all that, Rotherham showed how dangerous they were, Ryan Giles forcing Wildsmith to save after Smith did well to shield Tom Lees away from the pass. The break did nothing to hurt Wednesday’s momentum; they were actually more dominant after the break even at 11 v 11.
Paterson shot wide after spinning Harding, Adam Reach and Windass shooting over from one another’s passes.
Moore likes his goalkeepers to play but Wildsmith nearly overdid it under pressure from Smith.
Smith’s challenge on Borner seemed to change the game completely.
Darren Bond was perfectly placed, and quick to bring out his red card, Smith pushing his head into Borner’s chest.
Smith had been isolated enough as the centre-forward, his replacement from the bench Ladapo was even more so as Paul Warne was forced to go with a 4-4-1 but they defended doggedly, as they had to.
Goalkeeper Johansson made up for parrying Elias Kachunga’s save into Paterson’s pass with an excellent save from the Scot, and at that point you wondered if it was going to be one of those nights from Wednesday, particularly when the goalkeeper turned the excellent Liam Shaw’s effort around the post a minute later. That was not the half of it.
With seven minutes to go, Shaw played the ball to Matt Penney, who looked comfortably offside.
Johansson rushed off his line and the ball richocheted in off Olosunde. Suddenly the game looked like Wednesday’s for the winning and Moore responded by piling on attacking players.
But Paterson headed a Penney cross over and in the sixth added minute Olosunde made a brilliant tackle to stop Paterson going through one-on-one.
Rotherham broke from the corner and improbably Ladapo completed a Championship double for Rotherham over their near neighbours.
Sheffield Wednesday: Wildsmith; Palmer, Lees, Borner, Penney; Hutchinson, Shaw; Reach (Harris 74), Bannan, Windass (Kachunga 74); Paterson. Unused substitutes: Pelupessy, Marriott, Urhoghide, Rhodes, Dunkley, Brown, Jackson.
Rotherham United: Johansson; Olosunde, Harding, A MacDonald, Wiles; Jozefzoon (Ladapo 70), Wing, Barlaser, Giles (Clarke 76); Crooks; Smith. Unused substitutes: Blackman, S McDonald, Hirst, Sadlier, Blackman.
Referee: D Bond (Lancashire).
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