Rotherham United v Sheffield Wednesday derby verdict: Millers 1 Owls 2

Lucas Joao places the ball into an empty goal for Wednesday
Lucas Joao places the ball into an empty goal for Wednesday
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It was never going to live up to the last derby, when the result changed four times in 11 crazy minutes at the end to break Rotherham hearts and send Wednesday back to S6 with pride, points and bragging rights

But that won’t bother the Owls at all as they struck twice in four decisive minutes at the start of the second half to win at the home of the Millers.

Fernando Forestieri wheels away after scoring Wednersday's second goal

Fernando Forestieri wheels away after scoring Wednersday's second goal

Again.

It’s now 39 years and 10 league matches since Rotherham beat their rivals on their own turf; 1976. A time when Jimmy McGuigan was manager, match-winner Dick Habbin was in his scoring pomp and Millers’ fans could celebrate with beer at 32p a pint.

This had nothing like the drama of events back in March, when Wednesday fought back in time added on to win 3-2.

But goals from Lucas Joao and Fernando Forestieri kept the Owls’ play-off push very much on course.

Rotherham boss Neil Redfearn in a sombre mood

Rotherham boss Neil Redfearn in a sombre mood

Joao tapped in 33 seconds after the interval when Forestieri won the ball from Tom Thorpe and his shot came off Millers goalkeeper Lee Camp, and then Forestieri did likewise in the 50th minute after Daniel Pudil’s header back from a corner.

Rotherham battled valiantly after the double setback but the Owls combated anything they could throw at them and deserved their victory.

Tom Thorpe’s goal for the Millers in the last of four added minutes was too late to matter.

Until then, a Matt Derbyshire header wide after 62 minutes and sub Jordan Bowery, shooting just wide on the turn were as close as the they came.

Wednesday were able to sit back and hit on the break and twice the impish Barry Bannan could have added to the score. His first shot was over the bar and then he steered the ball wide of Camp’s right-hand post.

The Championship showdown was sold out and the atmosphere inside the AESSEAL New York Stadium, with Wednesday allocated the full away end this time, absolutely electric. Chris Maguire shared in the Owls delirium last time, famously putting his fingers to his lips in a taunting gesture to the home crowd after Kieran Lee’s 98th-minute winner.

Nowadays, he plays for the fans he once mocked and came on as 48th-minute substitute but was unable to affect the game as Rotherham failed to hit the heights of their performance three days earlier against Reading.

Millers boss Neil Redfearn kept faith with the side that drew 1-1 with the Royals.

Owls head coach Carlos Carvalhal made six changes to the team that earned a 0-0 draw at QPR on Tuesday.

He paid Rotherham the compliment of reverting to his strongest line-up, opting for the starting 11 which had drawn 1-1 against Hull City last Saturday, with Glenn Loovens coming in for injured centre-half Michael Turner the only switch.

Both bosses went into the match claiming their side weren’t favourite, Rotherham had slightly the better of the early exchanges, but the Owls came back into the game and it was a tight first 45 minutes which opened up only as the half-time whistle approached..

Jonson Clarke-Harris’ 14th-minute 35-yarder, held at the second attempt by keeper Keiren Westwood, was the only real attempt of note until the 41st minute.

Paul Green failed to get his shot away for the home side from a good position on the left and a slick Wednesday break finished with Bannan lifting the ball into the penalty area, waiting for it to drop and heading an inviting chance just over.

Another fast break by the Owls saw Lee fire over from Joao’s feed , moments after Tony Andreu had needlessly given away possession in midfield.

In the 81st minute, there was sustained applause, organised by teenager Sam Mullins for his grandad, Eric Mullins, the tribute marking the age at which the long-time Millers fan lost his battle with cancer last week and putting matters on the pitch, important as they may be, in perspective.

To their credit, the visiting supporters played a full part.

There are similarities between Carvalhal and Redfearn who spoke during the build-up of his admiration for the job his counterpart at Hillsborough is doing.

Both are proper football men, with tactical nous, new to their roles, and charged with taking their teams to another level.

For the Owls, that’s the Premier League, while second-tier security would do nicely for the Millers, with the ultimate dream of a place at the top table something to work towards.

There are encouraging signs in both camps, although Carvalhal, in place since the start of the season, is clearly further down the line in his quest than Redfearn, in only his third match in charge of the Millers.

Wednesday are now unbeaten in their last eight outings, with a Capital One Cup clash with Arsenal next week to relish, and can really boast the thing Redfearn hopes to build.

Momentum.

Rotherham: Camp; Buxton, Rawson, Collins, Toffolo; G Ward, Thorpe, Green (Bowery 62), Andreu (Maguire 48); Derbyshire, Clarke-Harris. Subs not used: Collin, Broadfoot, White, Richardson, Smallwood.

Wednesday: Westwood; Hunt, Loovens, Lees, Pudil; Wallace, Lee, Hutchinson (Semedo 90+1), Bannan; Forestieri (Bus 90+2), Joao (Nuhiu 74). Subs not used: Wildsmith, McGugan, Helan, Sasso.

Referee: Mike Jones (Chester).

Attendance: 11,658 (2,587).