Date: 12th August 2008 at 11:49pm
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An understrength Wednesday side slumped out of the Carling Cup at the first step after League Two neighbours Rotherham bagged a place in the hat for the next round with victory on penalties.

Wednesday did more than enough to bag the win before the start of extra time as they controlled large parts of the clash and hit the woodwork four times – but couldn’t find the cutting edge which saw them bag four against Burnley at the weekend.

Owls boss Brian Laws made a number of changes to the side, despite wanting to continue the momentum from Saturday, and paid the price.

Jermaine Johnson, the main attacking threat behind Akpo Sodje at the weekend, was rested, as was Marcus Tudgay and Richard Hinds, while Luke Boden and Rocky Lekaj both got their chance in the Owls squad.

Jimmy Smith got a first start on the wing, while Steve Watson also continued his return to full fitness in the centre of the Owls midfield.

It was the Millers who threatened first through Ryan Taylor as he blasted just wide of Lee Grant’s goal in the opening exchanges.

But Wednesday began to show their dominance from then on with Deon Burton going close, despite the jeers of his former fans in the Leppings Lane end, while Leon Clarke also saw a goal chalked off for offside minutes later.

Wednesday’s early dominance continued with some good approach play, resulting in Steve Watson’s superb chip coming back off Andy Warrington’s crossbar and to safety.

But the game exploded in to life with two goals in as many minutes, first Etienne Esajas, impressive throughout, left his marker to smash a superb effort by Warrington to give Wednesday the advantage.

But with the majority of the 16,000-plus crowd still celebrating, the Millers went straight down the other end as Alex Rhodes got on the end of a long ball to slide the ball by Lee Grant and get Mark Robins’ men back on level terms.

Chances were few and far between before the break, but Esajas was enjoying an impressive first start of the season down the left, causing the Millers defence all kinds of problems.

And it was his looping free-kick that saw Wednesday hit the woodwork for the second time with Warrington well beaten, to see the sides going in to the break on level terms.

Half-Time: Wednesday 1-1 Rotherham

Wednesday fans will have been disappointed with the scoreline at the break, but the Owls had shown enough promise to show they were all set to win the game, Esajas in particular giving boss Laws plenty of food for thought for the more important clash at Wolves at the weekend.

Steve Watson was also showing impressive signs in the centre of midfield as he stepped up his return from full fitness, although Jimmy Smith failed to get in to the game much in the opening 45 minutes.

And it was Esajas who was powering Wednesday forward at the start of the second half as his superb turn gave him an effort on goal, only for the Millers stopper to thwart the Dutchman with a fine save.

The Owls’ attacking flair seemed to drop after Burton was brought off for McAllister, with the uninspiring Leon Clarke failing to impress in a two-man attack, let alone up front on his own.

Wednesday managed to get a lot of the ball with their new five-man midfield, but much like last season struggled to do much with it in terms of creativity when they got in to the final third of the pitch.

Wednesday were being restricted to long range efforts, with Smith seeing the third Wednesday effort coming back off the bar, while captain Richard Wood also saw a hopeful ball go flying over the bar.

Wednesday went in to extra time bossing affairs, but again failing to create anything in the way of clear cut chances, with Clarke looking lacklustre in attack.

The breakthrough came with just minutes remaining of the second half as Marc Joseph saw red for bringing down Clarke when through on goal.

Esajas stepped up to complete his impressive return by curling the ball in to the back of Warrington’s goal and seemingly put the Owls in to the next round of the cup.

But, as in normal time, Wednesday couldn’t hold on to their lead for long, as panic in the defence resulted in Reuben Reid blasting the ball home after Mark Hudson had seen his effort come back off the woodwork.

The penalty shoot-out was in front of the Kop, but that couldn’t inspire the Owls as Esajas, the Owls man-of-the-match, unfortunately saw his effort clip the edge of the post, allowing the Millers through to the second round.

Full-Time: Wednesday 2-2 Rotherham (Rotherham win 5-3 on pens).

Wednesday: Grant, Gilbert, Spurr, Beevers, Wood (c), Smith (Rocky Lekaj 88), O’Connor, Watson (Boden 77), Esajas, Clarke, Burton (McAllister 63). Unused substitutes: O’Donnell, McMenamin, Lunt.

Rotherham: Warrington, Lynch, Harrison, Mills (c), Sharps, Fenton (Todd 113), Hudson, Joseph, Rhodes (Green 89), Taylor (Yates 89), Reid. Unused substitutes: Cann, Tonge, Cummins, Holmes.