Sport Soccer

Monday 16 December 2019

Evans praises Rotherham's grit to secure promotion

Rotherham United manager Steve Evans celebrates with his winner's medal after the League One play-off final at Wembley
Rotherham United manager Steve Evans celebrates with his winner's medal after the League One play-off final at Wembley

Andy Sims

Steve Evans celebrated Rotherham's play-off final win with a Jose Mourinho style charge along the touchline and then hailed his players' never-say-die attitude.

The Millers boss was elated after his side came back from 2-0 down at half-time against Leyton Orient to win the League One play-off final 4-3 on penalties.

Alex Revell scored twice against his former club, the second a stunning long-range effort which sent portly Evans haring down the wing towards the Rotherham fans.

He had to adjust his trousers for the stroll back but, just like Evans' belt, Rotherham's players did not break under pressure and went on to win a nerve-jangling penalty shoot-out 4-3.

And afterwards he revealed: "If we'd been two goals clear on 90 minutes I'd have jumped in with the crowd. It was partially relief, partially celebrating a stunning goal and partially knowing we were back in the cup tie."

Those Millers supporters who had a lucky escape were soon in dreamland after Adam Collin saved from Mathieu Baudry and Chris Dagnall in the shoot-out.

Moses Odubajo had fired Orient in front after 34 minutes with a superb volley from the edge of the penalty area and the Londoners seemed in total control five minutes later when Dean Cox tapped in Odubajo's low cross.


But Evans' half-time rallying cry did the trick as Rotherham pulled one back after 54 minutes when O's 'keeper Jamie Jones missed Ben Pringle's cross and Revell pounced.

And Revell hauled his side level with a truly memorable strike on the hour mark, a cracking lob on the volley from 30 yards over the stranded Jones.

"All season, the boys have continued to fight in adversity," added Evans, whose side were also promoted from League Two last season. "At half-time my assistant manager said the players were going to need me to dig them out of the trenches and put them top of the mountain.

"I just spoke to them about what it means to them, to the mums, dads, children and when you're a granddad and what it would mean when you're looking back. You have to have the desire, fight and hunger."

Defeat was hard to take for Orient manager Russell Slade, whose side led the table for the best part of six months only to fall short on the home straight.

They not only led at half-time but also during the shoot-out as Jones saved Rotherham's second penalty from Lee Frecklington.

Chairman Barry Hearn has still promised to fly the squad to Las Vegas as a reward for reaching the play-offs, but the cocktails will not taste quite as sweet.

"It doesn't feel too good," admitted Slade. "It's one of my toughest moments as a manager and it's tough for my players who have given everything, yet again."

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