Paul Warne happy Rotherham go into last game with promotion in their hands



Posted Wednesday, April 27, 2022 by PA

Paul Warne happy Rotherham go into last game with promotion in their hands

Rotherham manager Paul Warne watched his side concede a dramatic own goal but insisted he would have settled for going into the final game of the season needing a win to guarantee automatic promotion if he had been offered it last August.

Rotherham head to Gillingham on Saturday knowing a victory will guarantee them a top-two finish and secure an immediate return to the Championship following their relegation last season.

Their position might have been slightly more secure had they won at Sunderland, but Michael Ihiekwe cancelled out his own first-half header as he powered home a headed own goal in the 88th minute of his side’s 1-1 draw.

The defensive error was a major frustration, but Warne claims the bigger picture is that Rotherham remain well placed heading into the final weekend.

The Rotherham boss said: “I would have taken it. Definitely. The problem is that the elephant in the room, which isn’t really an elephant, it’s a herd, is that eight weeks ago we were in an unbelievable position.

“I’ve said on numerous occasions though that we’d won games we probably didn’t deserve to win and weren’t amazing, but we just went through a spell of having a lot of luck.

“Obviously tonight, we’ve used our luck up, but I obviously would have taken this position at the start of the season.

“We had the Papa John’s (Trophy) journey as well, so for us to be one game away from promotion is great. However, I sit here and the worrying you do in your brain as a manager is a joke.

“I go into this weekend full of confidence, but there’s always the worst-case scenario, and that is why I have no hair and no sleep. I obviously would have taken it at the start of the season – I don’t want to sound greedy – but I would have liked it to have been finished tonight, that is for certain.”

Sunderland head to Morecambe for their final game, and Ihiekwe’s late own goal means Alex Neil’s side know they will be guaranteed a play-off place if they win at the weekend.

Neil said: “That’s the key thing, that it’s still in our hands. We’d have loved to have won the game, but I always thought it was going to be a cagey game. Being in our hands is the perfect situation going into the last match.

“I always thought we could do it. When I came in, I wouldn’t have taken the job if I didn’t think we could make the play-offs. Did I think it would have taken as many wins, and as much of a good run as we’ve had to put together to get there? Definitely not. Because at that point, I don’t really think anybody was on particularly good runs.

“So, what we’ve had to do to get to this point has surprised me. But did I think we could get to the play-offs? Definitely, yes.

“It’s an incredible ending. For the fans it’s great. Or at least some parts are great, others maybe not so great. In terms of excitement for the neutrals watching, it must be really exciting because you literally could not write a script like it.

“The same goal difference, points, they’re playing them to stay up. It’s incredible. We’ve just got to take care of what we’ve got to take care of. We’ve done extremely well and put ourselves in a very good position and as with every game, it’s down to us.”

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