Rotherham United could be first northern team to do EFL double after Papa John’s Trophy victory


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Rotherham United are close to becoming the first northern team to win an EFL double after they beat Sutton United 4-2 in the Papa John’s Trophy final.

The Millers were 2-1 down against the League Two outfit until the 96th minute when Jordi Osei-Tutu scored to send the final to extra time. Paul Warne’s side soon showed too much for Sutton and went on to score twice in the extra 30 minutes to win the EFL Trophy for the second time in their history.

Should they now go on to win the League One title they will be only the fifth team to win the cup and win their respective domestic league for that season, and the first northern side in the English football league to do so.
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Rotherham break Sutton hearts in the 96th minute

Rotherham went into Sunday’s final at Wembley Stadium as the favourites to lift the trophy, with Sutton competing in their first ever season in the EFL. Despite the latter performing very well so far in League Two, the Millers currently occupy the top spot in League One and are close to returning to the Championship.

However, it was the Us who struck first. Will Randall was able to win possession when Rotherham striker Michael Smith failed to clear a cross from David Ajiboye. He soon laid it into the path of Donovan Wilson who had far too much time and space on the edge of the area, and fired home into the bottom right corner.

With half-time approaching, the Millers were able to respond through Ben Wiles. Joshua Kayode did well to bring the ball down and feed it to his teammate, with the midfielder proceeding to take two touches and fire it into the roof of the net from range.

The EFL newcomers refused to give up though and they took the lead once again shortly after the break. Captain Craig Eastmond showed great patience as his first attempt on goal was blocked by Michael Ihiekwe, but he was able to convert on the rebound.

Sutton held on for the majority of the second half, with Rotherham struggling to find an equaliser. However in the sixth minute of added time substitute Osei-Tutu saw his shot on goal deflect into the top right corner, sparking jubilant scenes from the South Yorkshire faithful.

Extra time was required, and Rotherham scored in the 96th minute once again to take the lead for the first time all day. Chiedozie Ogbene lined up a shot in space from outside the box and fired a superb effort past Sutton goalkeeper Dean Bouzanis.

Ihiekwe then made it game, set and match eight minutes from time as he headed in from a Shane Ferguson corner, with referee Seb Stockbridge blowing the whistle for full time around ten minutes later. Rotherham had overcome their sub-par performance in the 90 minutes to win their second EFL trophy thanks to their efforts in extra time.

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Seven games left to secure the double

With the Millers currently at the top of the League One table, there is a chance that they could secure an EFL double come the end of the campaign. Although second placed Wigan Athletic have a game in hand and will overtake them with just a point, Rotherham could achieve something only four sides have been able to do.

Warne’s side could be the fifth team to win the EFL Trophy in the same season they have won their respective league. Such an achievement would also make them the first northern side to achieve such a feat.

The first EFL outfit to secure such a double were Wolverhampton Wanderers back in the 87/88 campaign, the EFL Trophy’s fifth season in existence. They won the League Two title after beating Burnley in the cup final. Next were Birmingham City who were Champions of League One, and victorious against Carlisle United in the EFL Trophy final in the 94/95 season.

MK Dons were also able to complete the double in the 07/08 campaign, beating Grimsby Town in the final and being crowned League Two Champions. Finally, Bristol City’s 14/15 season saw them finish first in League One and lift the cup after victory against Walsall.

Rotherham could therefore join an exclusive club by the end of April, with an instant return to the Championship looking very likely. However, if you look at how Birmingham and Bristol City fared in the following seasons, the Millers may not have the best of campaigns next year.

After winning the the double in 1995, the Blues finished 15th in the second division of English football. The Robins also suffered a similar fate as they secured an 18th placed finish in 2016. Although neither side were relegated, should Rotherham win the league, it is unlikely they will experience the same level of success this season in the next campaign.

When compared to Wolves and MK Dons, it is clear that the step up from League One to the Championship is bigger than that from League Two to the division above; Wolves sealed a back-to-back promotion and the Dons finished third in their following season, missing out on the Championship via the play-off semi-finals against Scunthorpe United.

The Millers have seven games to complete a superb season, with the South Yorkshire outfit already having the taste of success after their win against Sutton.

If they are able to fend off the challenge from the Latics and be crowned Champions of the third division for the third time in their history, Rotherham will join a small group of EFL double winners and be the first northern team to do so.

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