If Terry Venables could find a striker with the Wembley touch of Nigel Jemson, England's odds for Euro 96 would be cut in half overnight. Jemson scored Nottingham Forest's winner in the 1990 Littlewoods Cup final, and while his two for Rotherham in the Auto Windscreens final will not secure his side a Uefa Cup place, you would not have known it from the delight with which more than 20,000 fans greeted the final whistle.
In a combined history which runs to 222 years, neither of yesterday's finalists had previously made the trip to Wembley and, for the first 15 minutes, it showed. Shrewsbury in particular were slow to adapt, both to the problems and possibilities which come with the wide open spaces. Only Rotherham's Shaun Goater made serious use of the extra width, and while neither attack exactly exuded menace, the alliance of Goater's strength on the ball and Jemson's striking instincts soon looked the more likely to bear fruit.
So it proved after 19 minutes, as Goater juggled the ball past John Kay on the left of the box, before pulling it back for Jemson, 12 yards out and unmarked, to finish without a second thought. Only now did Shrewsbury begin to play with any freedom, allowing Mark Taylor, their captain and playmaker, to begin to find Ian Stevens, a nimble and intelligent striker. Not until the half-hour, however, when Taylor's cross almost found Stevens on the six-yard line, did an equaliser appear likely.
Jemson should have made it two shortly afterwards, when his shot from Goater's knock-down was a couple of inches wide, but he made amends 13 minutes after the break. Dave Walton's weak header towards Paul Edwards gave his keeper only a 50-50 chance of beating Jemson to the ball, and it was the striker who got lucky. He stuck out a toe, and a fortunate ricochet then allowed him to walk it into the net.
Shrewsbury seemed resigned to defeat before Taylor's reply on 80 minutes brought some hope, but despite constant late pressure, a second was always going to elude them. The final act, appropriately, was Jemson's long dribble and shot which almost secured his hat-trick. With luck, someone will send Alan Shearer the video.
Goals: Jemson (20) 1-0; Jemson (58) 2-0; Taylor (81) 2-1.
Rotherham United (4-4-2): Clarke; Hurst, Breckin, Richardson, Blades; Roscoe, Goodwin, Garner, Berry; Jemson, Goater. Substitutes not used: Bowyer, Hayward, McGlashan.
Shrewsbury Town (4-4-2): Edwards; Withe, Walton, Whiston, Kay; Taylor, Scott, Robinson (Lynch, 75), Berkley; Stevens, Spink (Anthrobus, h-t). Substitute not used: Clarke (gk).
Referee: D Allison (Lancaster).
Bookings: Rotherham: Breckin; Shrewsbury: Withe, Scott.
Man of the match: Jemson.
Attendance: 35,235.Reuse content