Rotherham United: ‘Play like we did against Aston Villa and we’re in with a chance’
Rotherham manager Paul Warne hopes a repeat of his side's first-half performance against Aston Villa on Wednesday would keep his side up.
The Millers had the division's in-form side on the ropes and led at half-time, only to see the 10 men of Villa come back to a 2-1 win after the break.
The level of that performance in the opening 45 minutes, though, was as good as it has got for Warne's side this season as Villa did not know how to cope.
The defeat leaves them two points adrift of safety with five games to go, but Warne is buoyed.
“The first-half performance was excellent, if we can perform at that level for five games, whether that will be enough I don't know,” Warne said.
“But what the lads give me on a weekly basis I have nothing but pride and I am not just saying that to put a glossy spin on a defeat.
“Two years ago in the Championship we'd have lost 2-1 to Aston Villa I might have left the stadium thinking the lads gave a good account of themselves, whereas two years on we lost to Villa and it feels like a missed opportunity.
“The lads are disappointed and that is how far we have come. It leaves us five more cup finals.
“This one tonight on paper was one of the hardest, but this was one that was so close yet so far.
“I think it shows how far we have come that Villa don't come here and under-estimate us. For them to celebrate the way they did at the final whistle shows how far we have come possibly.
“But that is very bittersweet for me, a point would have been a good point the way the results have gone. So there will be five heart attacks waiting to happen.”
The first of those comes at Stoke on Saturday where the Millers will be targeting just a second away win of the season.
The Potters are in patchy form, winning just one of their last six, and Warne is ready to pick his men up.
“We came through injury free, we didn't get anyone sent off, which I thought was sure to happen, we'll pick them up and go again,” the boss added.
“They have to brush themselves down, that's all we can do. We will try and get them ready for Stoke, they don't come much easier!”
“I am being sarcastic before someone quotes me. Going to Stoke away and then Swansea away is going to be a right laugh.”