Championship
CardiffCardiff City1RotherhamRotherham United1

Cardiff City 1-1 Rotherham United: Millers relegated after Marlon Pack equaliser

By Michael PearlmanBBC Sport Wales at the Cardiff City Stadium
Cardiff's Joe Ralls battles to retain possession
Cardiff's Joe Ralls battles to retain possession

Rotherham suffered late heartbreak as a Cardiff equaliser two minutes from time saw them relegated to League One.

Needing a win to stand a chance of staying up, the visitors got the perfect start when Lewis Wing volleyed in on eight minutes.

And with the scoreline between Derby and Sheffield Wednesday in their favour, the Millers looked set to extend their stay in the Championship.

But Marlon Pack's late curling effort condemned them to relegation.

Rotherham knew they had to win to give themselves a chance of survival and will rue missing several fantastic chances when the score was 1-0.

Failure to win in Wales means they continue their five-year run of either being promoted to, or relegated from, the Championship, while Cardiff finish eighth.

The scenario for the Millers was simple enough, they needed three points while also hoping Sheffield Wednesday would do them a favour, as they needed to also better Derby County's result against the Owls.

It has been a tricky season for Rotherham, who have one of the smallest budgets in the division and have also had to contend with a fixture backlog that has left them extremely stretched in recent weeks.

They have been playing catch-up after two coronavirus outbreaks at the club caused a string of postponements, meaning they played nine times in April, picking up only four points.

Cardiff certainly had less to play for than the visitors, who started with excellent intensity.

Hopes on a Wing and prayer

The only bad negative from the first half for Rotherham was their inability to turn their dominance into a bigger advantage.

The dangerous Wing shot over, Matt Crooks saw efforts blocked and off target and captain Richard Wood headed inches wide from a corner as the Millers pressed.

Still more chances came and went as Michael Smith dragged a shot just wide and Angus MacDonald probably cannot comprehend how Dillon Phillips somehow saved his effort from close range after a corner.

However, Wing's stunning strike on eight minutes was their only breakthrough as he hammered the ball home flush on the volley from 25 yards when Perry Ng's headed clearance fell nicely for him.

They did, though, enjoy a degree of good fortune with Michael Ihiekwe only booked for a late and high tackle.

Late heartache for Millers

Cardiff improved immediately after the interval, with Kieffer Moore firing over, while an end-to-end exchange saw Smith for Rotherham and Cardiff's Harry Wilson both have shots blocked at the last gasp, before Smith's shot from an acute angle almost caught out Phillips.

Crooks flicked just wide with a golden chance to make it 2-0, while Wing fired wide on an incisive counter-attack before curling a delightful effort inches past the post with Phillips unmoved.

Rotherham deserved a second but football can be a cruel game and their gruelling schedule appeared to catch up with them in the later stages, with Pack curling home through a crowded box with two minutes remaining to consign them to League One.

Cardiff defender Sol Bamba returned to action in the final seconds as he continues to recover from a cancer diagnosis.

Rotherham's players at final whistle
Rotherham's players were dejected at the final whistle

Rotherham continue to yo-yo

Relegation for Rotherham means they have now been either promoted to or relegated from the Championship in each of the past five seasons.

The Millers were promoted back to the second tier last season after League One's season was decided on a points-per-game basis because of the coronavirus pandemic.

As is usually the case for the frugal South Yorkshire side they did not invest a large amount across the summer and a season of struggle was expected at the New York Stadium.

That is how it has proved, as Paul Warne's men spent virtually the whole season in the bottom three.

A run of four wins from six through late January and into February gave them real hope but they followed that with a run of five straight defeats, all by a single goal.

Two Covid-19 outbreaks meant they always had games in hand on the teams above them but also forced them to have to play four games in nine days in April.

They picked up four points from the first two but then lost the second two to relegation rivals Coventry and Birmingham to leave themselves with a massive task.

Ultimately Warne will be left to reflect on their inability to eke out draws from tight games. Of their 26 league defeats this season, 19 were by a single-goal margin, the most of any team in the EFL.

He will now hope he can lead the team straight back up, as he has done on the previous two occasions they have been relegated to League One.

Cardiff City manager Mick McCarthy:

"It was a hard-earned point. Rotherham had real intent and were more aggressive, more forceful and better than we were.

"I was annoyed at half-time, it was as meek and mild as we have been, and in the second half I thought we responded.

"There is a big difference between running for your lives and running for your dinner and Rotherham were, they were fighting for their lives and I thought their performance reflected that.

"It's sad for Rotherham, but I didn't want to get beaten."

Rotherham United manager Paul Warne:

"I feel a bit hollow and devastated for the group. I wanted greatness for them. I wanted them to leave the stage like heroes.

"I asked them to play like warriors and they did. We have so much energy and heart, but haven't finished them off.

"If we had come here and lost 3-0, we could have accepted that maybe we are just not good enough at this level.

"But this feels worse. As I've said before, it's the hope that kills you.

"After 88 minutes, I was urging them forward again and I could see the pain on their faces. Their faces were saying, 'gaffer, we've got nothing left to give'.

"It leaves you feeling empty. It's a sad day, but also a proud day."

Line-ups

Cardiff

Formation 3-4-2-1

  • 1Phillips
  • 21Pack
  • 5Flint
  • 16Nelson
  • 38Ng
  • 7BacunaSubstituted forWilliamsat 59'minutes
  • 8RallsBooked at 52mins
  • 30Brown
  • 40ColwillSubstituted forM Harrisat 45'minutes
  • 23WilsonSubstituted forOjoat 77'minutes
  • 10MooreSubstituted forMurphyat 59'minutesSubstituted forBambaat 90+5'minutes

Substitutes

  • 11Murphy
  • 12Smithies
  • 15Williams
  • 17Tomlin
  • 22Bamba
  • 27Ojo
  • 29M Harris
  • 35Evans
  • 41Bowen

Rotherham

Formation 3-4-2-1

  • 27Blackman
  • 20IhiekweBooked at 39minsSubstituted forLadapoat 90+1'minutes
  • 6Wood
  • 21MacDonald
  • 19Harding
  • 5WingSubstituted forOgbeneat 90+1'minutes
  • 8WilesBooked at 70minsSubstituted forMattockat 87'minutes
  • 30Giles
  • 28JozefzoonSubstituted forLindsayat 62'minutes
  • 25Crooks
  • 24Smith

Substitutes

  • 1Johansson
  • 3Mattock
  • 4MacDonald
  • 10Ladapo
  • 11Ogbene
  • 16Lindsay
  • 17Sadlier
  • 22Olosunde
  • 26Barlaser
Referee:
Graham Scott

Match Stats

Home TeamCardiffAway TeamRotherham
Possession
Home62%
Away38%
Shots
Home9
Away17
Shots on Target
Home3
Away4
Corners
Home6
Away4
Fouls
Home12
Away15

Live Text

  1. Post update

    Match ends, Cardiff City 1, Rotherham United 1.

  2. Full Time

    Second Half ends, Cardiff City 1, Rotherham United 1.

  3. Substitution

    Substitution, Cardiff City. Sol Bamba replaces Josh Murphy.

  4. Post update

    Josh Murphy (Cardiff City) wins a free kick on the left wing.

  5. Post update

    Foul by Matt Crooks (Rotherham United).

  6. Post update

    Josh Murphy (Cardiff City) wins a free kick on the left wing.

  7. Post update

    Foul by Wes Harding (Rotherham United).

  8. Post update

    Marlon Pack (Cardiff City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  9. Post update

    Foul by Matt Crooks (Rotherham United).

  10. Substitution

    Substitution, Rotherham United. Chiedozie Ogbene replaces Lewis Wing.

  11. Substitution

    Substitution, Rotherham United. Freddie Ladapo replaces Michael Ihiekwe.

  12. Post update

    Mark Harris (Cardiff City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  13. Post update

    Foul by Richard Wood (Rotherham United).

  14. Post update

    Aden Flint (Cardiff City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  15. Post update

    Foul by Matt Crooks (Rotherham United).

  16. Goal!

    Goal! Cardiff City 1, Rotherham United 1. Marlon Pack (Cardiff City) right footed shot from outside the box to the bottom left corner. Assisted by Mark Harris.

  17. Substitution

    Substitution, Rotherham United. Joe Mattock replaces Ben Wiles because of an injury.

  18. Post update

    Foul by Ciaron Brown (Cardiff City).

  19. Post update

    Jamie Lindsay (Rotherham United) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  20. Post update

    Attempt missed. Lewis Wing (Rotherham United) right footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses to the right.

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