Rotherham 2-1 Shrewsbury (AET): Richard Wood double fires Millers to promotion
By Simeon Gholam at Wembley
Last Updated: 28/05/18 9:13am
Richard Wood scored twice to steer Rotherham back into the Sky Bet Championship as they beat Shrewsbury 2-1 after extra-time at Wembley.
The Millers captain struck the winner in the 103rd minute to hand his side the victory in the League One play-off final, after his initial goal in the first half had been cancelled out by Alex Rodman.
For Rotherham, it's an immediate return to the second tier following their dismal relegation last season, while Shrewsbury have now lost all five of their games at Wembley, and also a second for Paul Hurst's side this season having been beaten by Lincoln in the Checkatrade Trophy final last month.
Semi Ajayi, David Ball and Jon Taylor came in for Rotherham, while Shrewsbury were unchanged.
Rotherham had a glorious opportunity to take the lead from the penalty spot inside the opening 10 minutes when Omar Beckles hauled down Wood in the box following a corner. David Ball was the man who stepped up to take out, but his effort was beaten away by Manchester United loanee Dean Henderson.
The Millers found the opener after 33 minutes, however. Another corner was swung in from Joe Newell, and this time Wood got way from his marker Beckles to power a header past Henderson in the Shrewsbury goal.
Shrewsbury improved dramatically after half-time and equalised after 58 minutes thanks to a fantastic free-kick routine right off the training ground. Shaun Whalley was stood over the ball on the edge of the area, but rather than shoot he played the ball into Mat Sadler, whose wonderful first-time flick found Rodman in the six-yard box to poke home, leaving Rotherham dumbstruck.
Rotherham continued to dominate a visibly tiring Shrews side and they had a glorious chance to steal the win with virtually the last kick of normal time. Ryan Williams, on as a substitute with his fresh legs, tricked down the right before unleashing a fierce drive that seemed destined for the top corner, but Henderson was there with another fine save to tip the ball wide.
Rotherham: Rodak (7), Emmanuel (7), Ajayi (7), Wood (9), Mattock (7), Ball (5), Taylor (6), Vaulks (6), Newell (8), Towell (6), Smith (6)
Subs: Forde (6), Williams (6), Lavery (5)
Shrewsbury: Henderson (9), Bolton (6), Nsiala (6), Sadler (6), Beckles (5), Whalley (6), B Morris (5), Godfrey (6), Rodman (7), Nolan (6), C Morris (6)
Subs: Riley (6), John-Lewis (6), Payne (6)
Man of the match: Richard Wood
Another set-piece did the damage again for Rotherham after 103 minutes as they restored their lead. Joe Newell's fine free-kick travelled all the way to Wood at the far post, who slid in to steer the ball off the post and in. It was a first-career double for him in 467 senior appearances.
It was a well-deserved win for Rotherham on the day, but Shrewsbury will be devastated having spent so much of the season in the race for automatic promotion. They've been without second-tier football since 1989 and that wait will go on for at least another year.
- This is the first time since 2006-07 that three relegated teams from one league have been promoted the next season in the Football League - Hartlepool, Swindon and Walsall were relegated from League One in 2005-06 and promoted from League Two in 2006-07.
- Shrewsbury have played five matches at Wembley and lost all five (including the Football League Trophy final this season); the joint-most among teams to have lost 100% of their games there, along with Brentford (5/5).
- This game was the first League One play-off final to go to extra-time since 2014, when today's winners Rotherham beat Leyton Orient 4-3 on penalties.
- The Shrews won 87 points in the 2017-18 league campaign; the most by a third-tier side who failed to win promotion since Sheffield United in 2011/12 (90).
- Richard Wood's header was his seventh league goal of the season for Rotherham (inc. playoffs) - the only current Miller players to net more this term were Joe Newell and David Ball (eight each).
Man of the match - Richard Wood
Captain, leader... Wood! What a time to get your first career double. The Millers skipper was imperious at the back and lethal in attack. Winning the early penalty that Ball missed before taking advantage of two brilliant Newell set-pieces to fire Rotherham to glory.
Paul Warne: "I'm blessed to work with my best friends. It's been a good day at the office, but I'll have more sleepless nights thinking about playing teams like Aston Villa and others like that.
"I thought the lads were excellent, fairly play to Hursty and Shrewsbury today, it was a right good game and we were toe-to-toe. I'm really proud of the lads and the backroom staff and everyone at the club. It was a horrendous 12 months last year for everyone so for all the fans that made the effort to come down today, it has been worth it."
Paul Hurst: "We had a good spell after we'd equalised but the game became a farce because of the heat and people were cramping for both teams. I'm not just saying it because we've lost, but you play 48 games and also cup games in a season. I know what the rules are but it wasn't a good ending to the game, you should get more subs.
"Maybe it adds to the drama for the neutral watching but you can't really play how'd you'd like. Congratulations to Warney, though, and everyone at Rotherham United for returning at the first attempt."