Rotherham United: A win at last but there’s a surprise reaction from Warne ... Millers 1 Ipswich Town 0

Millers goal joy. Pictures: Dean Atkins
Millers goal joy. Pictures: Dean Atkins
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It’s becoming a bit of a habit.

Rotherham United win and the manager and owner have dinner together.

Paul Warne’s first victory as Millers caretaker manager, back in December, came on the day of the Chairman’s Ball, when the interim boss and Tony Stewart shared a table at New York Stadium and toasted the 1-0 result against QPR.

Warne’s first triumph since taking the hot-seat permanently earlier this month coincided with Saturday’s Player of the Year Awards Night when he and Stewart savoured the braised beef and chatted about beating Ipswich Town by the same scoreline.

Maybe they should arrange events more often.

“It’s our end-of-season do tonight. I’m sitting next to the chairman,” said Warne. “The fact that we’ve won makes my life a little bit easier!

“It’s a sunny day. The crowd were pretty good. They stayed with the players. It feels nice to be part of nearly 8,000 people leaving in a good mood.

“I could feel the tension late on, but it’s the first time I’ve gone into stoppage time and not kept asking how many minutes are left. Today, I don’t know why, I just didn’t feel we were going to concede at the end.”

Everyone one had waited a painfully long time for this, and spirits matched the weather when victory for the first time since January 14 and a first clean sheet of 2017 were sealed. Relegation for the second tier’s bottom side, confirmed three weeks ago, could be forgotten, just for a little while.

The players enjoyed the standing ovation they received at the final whistle, just as supporters enjoyed giving it.

Paul Warne salutes fans

Paul Warne salutes fans

THE GAME

Danny Ward was named Player of the Year after the evening meal, but there was a starter he will want to forget.

The 12-goal captain failed to score with an early penalty, the first spot-kick Rotherham have been awarded all season, when Jon Taylor tumbled under the challenge of Josh Emmanuel.

His eight-minute effort lacked conviction and Town goalkeeper Dean Gerken dived to his left to make the save.

Danny Ward can't score from the spot

Danny Ward can't score from the spot

To make matters worse, the skipper departed at half-time with a hamstring pull likely to end his season, and the Millers were further hit by injury when centre-half Semi Ajayi limped off in the 53rd minute feeling a ‘hammy’ of his own.

Home keeper Richard O’Donnell kept out Danny Rowe’s 37th-minute shot, with Dominic Samuel’s follow-up rattling the woodwork, and foiled Brett Pitman after the break as Rotherham refused to yield.

Time for the main course. After Warne’s men had weathered a spell of Ipswich pressure, up popped loan midfielder Tom Adeyemi in the 79th minute to lash home his seventh goal in 28 matches.

The game sprang to life and, crucially, in the next three minutes, Darnell Fisher blocked Town substitute Kieffer Moore’s shot on the line and O’Donnell kept out a Samuel shot.

That left Taylor with the chance to serve up dessert, but Rotherham’s little winger was the only pudding as he marred a lively display by blazing a golden 84th-minute opportunity over the bar.

Happily, it didn’t matter, and the Millers moved on to 21 points, to avoid the Football League record low of 20 for a 46-match season set by Doncaster Rovers in 1998.

Jon Taylor on the attack

Jon Taylor on the attack

“To get to 21 is a relief,” Warne admitted. “It is a bit ‘monkey off the back’.”

QUIET MAN

Alcohol was off the menu for Warne, an early starter today as he honoured family commitments.

“Will the chairman be buying you a couple of drinks?” he was asked.

“I’ve got to get up at eight o’clock in the morning to take my son to Burton,” he replied. “He’s playing Burton away, so I don’t think I’ll have a drink.

“But the win will make my food taste nicer. I might even treat myself to to some carbs for a change as well. Go crazy!”

It was a rare flash of the manager’s usual humour. Strangely, he was less upbeat in victory than he has been after most defeats.

“I was pretty subdued at the end,” he accepted. “I just thought that my team performed well but not as well as they should have. I don’t want to talk down a win - don’t get me wrong - but they need to believe in themselves more.

“If I could give them all a self-belief pill, I would. They could have taken Ipswich to the sword a bit more. I think when Wardy missed the penalty, it killed a lot of them. I understand why, but it doesn’t make it acceptable in my eyes.”

Sometimes it happens like that. You want something so desperately, then find yourself confounded by your own muted reaction when it finally arrives.

Norfolk-born Warne had beaten Norwich City, the club he supports, in January. Now he had seen off the Canaries’ great East Anglian rivals.

Seventeen winless Millers matches had taken place in between.

“I saw the smiles on my kids faces at the end, so ... good!” he said. “All my family and friends are Norwich fans. They’ll be absolutely buzzing for me.”

At least for fans, players and those around him the three-point haul tasted sweeter than the house white.

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