Rotherham United 2-1 Shrewsbury Town (AET)

Rotherham United 2-1 Shrewsbury Town (AET)
Rotherham’s match-winner Richard Wood (left) lifts the play-off winners trophy with boss Paul Warne (right)

Rotherham United defender Richard Wood scored both goals at Wembley as they beat Shrewsbury in extra time to win promotion back to the Championship.

After David Ball’s missed first-half penalty, given for a foul by Omar Beckles, Wood headed Rotherham in front in the League One play-off final.

Alex Rodman levelled with a well-worked second-half equaliser for Shrewsbury.

But Wood stole in unmarked to meet another Joe Newell cross and steer home a 103rd-minute winner off the post.

Rotherham, relegated from the Championship just 13 months ago, had the better of the chances and were worthy winners.

And it was only a fantastic stop from Town’s on-loan Manchester United keeper Dean Henderson to deny Ryan Williams, on top of his first-half penalty save, that took the game to an extra half-hour.

Shrewsbury have now been to Wembley five times – and lost on each occasion.

Beckles struggles at set-pieces

Before Rotherham scored, Shrewsbury already had one big escape when defender Beckles wrapped his arms round Wood’s neck and gave away a ninth-minute penalty.

Henderson dived to his right, a couple of yards off his line, to parry Ball’s spot-kick.

But, having got away with a similar set-piece offence on Wood, Beckles was then found wanting again.

The Town defender allowed his man a run on Newell’s right-wing corner, and the Millers skipper got there first, headed down and the ball flew up into the top left corner, beyond the despairing Henderson.

Shrewsbury tried to respond and from Jon Nolan’s left-wing cross, a flicked header flew just wide from Carlton Morris, who then flashed a dangerous low right-wing delivery across the face at the start of the second half.

The signs of hope finally materialised into an equaliser on 58 minutes when Town levelled with a glorious training ground routine.

Shaun Whalley played a low free-kick into Mat Sadler, who zigzagged a first-time pass back across to Rodman – and the big winger got enough on the ball to bundle it over the line for his ninth goal of the season.

Rotherham still looked the more likely winners as Caolan Lavery twice got in behind, only to waste both openings, Michael Smith was too clumsy trying to dance round Henderson and the Town keeper brilliantly turned aside the dribbling Williams’ right-foot curler.

In extra time, Paul Warne’s side were the stronger and Wood, who had also scored in the semi-final win over Scunthorpe, stole in at the back unattended to turn in his seventh and most important goal of the season.

Rotherham captain Richard Wood (right) watches his second goal go in off the post

Low crowd at Wembley

One big disappointment was the size of the crowd at Wembley.

The 26,218 crowd made it comfortably the lowest third-tier final attendance since the first one was held between Tranmere and Notts County in 1990, when there were 29,252 at the old national stadium.

In the 27 finals that followed, none had ever previously dipped below an attendance of 30,000.

Just seven weeks on from losing in the EFL Trophy final to League Two side Lincoln City, in front of fewer travelling fans, Shrewsbury’s supporters can be forgiven for feeling a sense of disillusionment.

And it was a bitter-sweet experience for Town boss Paul Hurst, who won here with Rotherham against Shrewsbury in the 1996 Football League Trophy final – and is still good friends with Millers manager Warne, his former team-mate.

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