Rotherham United came from two goals down to win promotion to the Championship in dramatic circumstances on Sunday, defeating Leyton Orient following a penalty shootout at Wembley.
After the game had finished 2-2 following 120 minutes of tense, attrition-style football, Rotherham goalkeeper Adam Collin saved successive spot-kicks from Mathieu Baudry and Chris Dagnall to see Steve Evans’ side win 4-3 on penalties.
Prior to that, Adam Revell had scored twice to cancel out first-half strikes for Orient from Moses Odubajo and Dean Cox, with Rotherham holding on somewhat over the closing stages as the game headed for a shootout.
There they again fell behind, as Orient keeper Jamie Jones saved from Lee Frecklington, but Collin produced two smart saves at the death to finally decide the contest.
“We were dead and buried at half-time, but these guys rallied,” Evans told Sky Sports. “It’s incredible. We’ve had the belief from the start of the season, and we’ve beaten a magnificent side in Leyton Orient.
“[Collin] has come in the team from nowhere, and he’s been a magnificent, magnificent signing. We believed in Adam.”
|How the Penalty Shootout Was Won|
|Kieran Agard - scored||Lloyd James - scored|
|Lee Frecklington - SAVED||John Lundstram - scored|
|Ben Pringle - scored||Nathan Clarke - scored|
|James Tavernier - scored||Mathieu Baudry - SAVED|
|Richard Smallwood - scored||Chris Dagnall - SAVED|
|Rotherham won toss and went first|
It had been a meeting full of twists and turns. Rotherham started the game the brighter, yet it was Leyton Orient who went into the break emboldened, thanks to two goals in the space of five minutes.
Odubajo was the architect of both of them. The winger scored the first, showing brilliant touch and technique on the edge of the box to control the ball before thumping a powerful volley beyond the stationary Adam Collin.
At the time, few would have predicted the game would go on to produce a goal to rival it for ability.
Rotherham appeared understandably rocked by Odubajo’s strike, and soon after, he was left to make another crucial intervention. This time he was the provider, dragging out to the right before delivering an inviting low cross that left Dean Cox with the simplest of tap-ins at the far post.
Suddenly it was Leyton Orient in control, but Rotherham returned for the second half with a renewed conviction and were back on terms thanks to their own quick-fire burst around the hour-mark.
Revell, the former Leyton Orient striker, was the goalscorer on both occasions. His first was relatively straightforward, turning home from inside the box after running onto James Tavernier’s cross.
His second, five minutes later, was breathtaking by comparison; hitting a first-time potshot from 35 yards that soared over Jamie Jones and into the net, restoring parity in a game that seemed to be abiding by no discernible script.
“The important thing was not to concede a third goal when they were in the ascendancy, and we didn’t,” Evans added. “Then we scored a fortuitous goal and we were back in it.”
Unfortunately, but perhaps inevitably, the game could not continue at such a pace, with no further goals over the next 60 minutes. That included extra-time, with Rotherham generally on the back foot, as they seemed content to hold on for the deciding factor of penalties.
Rotherham won the toss and elected to shoot first, a decision that appeared to backfire when Lee Frecklington, one of the club’s best players all season, saw a weak effort palmed away by Jones.
The next four penalties were all scored, leaving the score at 3-3 as defender Baudry stepped up for Orient’s penultimate penalty. The Frenchman looked nervous and Collin guessed correctly, easily stopping the tentative effort low to his right.
Suddenly, the momentum had swung conclusively back to the Millers. Richard Smallwood then thumped home his side’s final kick, putting all the pressure on Dagnall.
Again Collin guessed correctly—this time going to his right to send Rotherham back into the second tier of English football for the first time in 10 years.
“It’s great,” Collin said afterwards. “I did my bit in the shootout, you can’t put it into words. Over the moon.”
Revell added: “Two goals in front of this crowd is unbelievable. We’re in the Championship, what an amazing feeling.”
All quotes taken from Sky Sports' live broadcast.