The majority of the discussion prior to this game was centred around Steve Evans’ first return to the New York Stadium since he left Rotherham United earlier on this season.
He earned his ‘heroes status’ during his tenure with the Millers, by guiding them to two consecutive promotions to send Rotherham back to the Championship. Evans was deservedly given a standing ovation by all of the home crowd prior to the game getting underway. Evans was looking for a win to relieve some of the pressure on his shoulders after rumours circling about his potential departure in the Summer.
While his counterpart, Neil Warnock, was looking for a win to consolidate Rotherham’s position above the relegation places. What we saw was a dramatic encounter, which will go down in the history books as a classic Yorkshire Derby.
The majority of the first half saw Leeds boss possession, playing some good football around their opponents penalty area. But they struggled to find the correct final ball to finish off some good build-up play and this ended up being their Achilles heel, especially at the end of the game.
Rotherham meanwhile, managed to soak up the pressure applied by Leeds well, through their newly found strong defensive structure, which has been hard to break down for all their opponents in recent weeks.
Rotherham had the better of the chances in the first half and they made the most of this by taking the lead after 27 minutes. The ball fell to Rotherham left-back, Joe Mattock, on the left wing. He swung in a brilliant cross which fell nicely to Lee Frecklington, who kept up his good form by getting to the ball before Leeds defender, Charlie Taylor, to finish well past keeper Marco Silvestri.
The first bit of drama of the game came in the 61st minute. Rotherham striker, Matt Derbyshire, was in my eyes, harshly sent off as the referee felt the striker had elbowed Leeds full-back, Gaetano Berardi.
When you look at the replays, it looks like Derbyshire accidentally caught Berardi with his shoulder, while challenging the defender in the air. This dismissal left Rotherham with half an hour to defend their lead.
From this point, Leeds upped their game and searched for an equaliser. They came close through an effort from Mirco Antenucci, but his attempt was well saved by Rotherham keeper, Lee Camp.
Their (Leeds) equaliser did come in the 79th minute. Luke Murphy’s shot from outside of the area, wrong-footed Camp, after the effort took a clear deflection on the way through off of Kirk Broadfoot.
For the next ten minutes, Rotherham defended defiantly to deny Leeds a late winner. Then, a Rotherham counter-attack meant the ball fell to Danny Ward, who looked to find Frecklington at the far post.
His cross should have been intercepted by Leeds centre-back, Giuseppe Bellusci, but his attempted overhead kick clearance fell nicely to Frecklington, who was brought down by Silvestri in the area, which gave the referee no other option but to award Rotherham a penalty and to send Silvestri off.
Leeds had made all of their subs, which meant Bellusci was forced replace Silvestri as the goalkeeper for the final moments of the game.
The penalty was taken by no other than Greg Halford, who has been a Rotherham outcast for much of the season prior to the arrival of Neil Warnock.
He finished calmly into the bottom corner to win the game for Rotherham United, which sent the New York Stadium into delirium.
Leeds United manager, Steve Evans, was disappointed with the defending of his defender Giuseppe Bellusci, after his poor clearance cost his side a point:
Steve Evans says a "cardinal sin" cost Leeds the game, referring to Bellusic's slapdash defending. #rufc
— Jonathan Veal (@jonathandveal83) April 2, 2016
Rotherham United manager, Neil Warnock, was delighted with his side’s last-gasp winner which extended their unbeaten run to six games:
When we were down to ten men and it was one each, the fans were brilliant. The atmosphere kept our lads going and they were willing us on, and it is amazing what a bunch of genuine lads can do.
It is amazing run we are on. It has been down to the fans, they really do not know how important they are to us.
Steve Evans will be looking to put this disappointing result behind him when Leeds host QPR tomorrow night. This is a must win fixture for Evans who is looking to put a good run together to secure his job for next season.
Meanwhile, Rotherham United go into a huge week full of confidence. Tomorrow night, they travel to Bristol City and on Saturday they come up against relegation rivals Mk Dons at the Stadium MK. If Neil Warnock continues to work his magic to guide Rotherham to a couple good results this week, it will go a long way to secure their Championship status this season and if he manages to do so, it would be a magnificent achievement for all involved at Rotherham United.