Rotherham United goal hero Danny Ward’s selfless display in the thrilling 3-3 draw with Derby County earned him a dressing-room ovation from admiring teammates.
The hard-running forward launched the Millers’ amazing comeback from 3-0 down with an 83rd-minute goal and then set up Leon Best’s equaliser in time added on at AESSEAL New York Stadium.
“I have never seen a performance like that for 90 minutes from a striker,” said manager Neil Warnock. “It was incredible, and his finish was good. He set us off on the road. They gave him a round of applause afterwards.”
After three successive Championship wins, Warnock’s side looked set for a heavy defeat as the Rams swept into a 3-0 lead just after the hour mark, but Ward’s strike plus two headers from substitute striker Leon Best stunned the visitors.
Ward produced a tireless performance for Rotherham, who remain a point away from a safety spot, to earn the man-of-the-match award.
“Derby played a ball back from the halfway line to left-back, who passed it to the centre-back who then passed it to the goalie,” Warnock recalled.
“Danny chased every everyone, sprinting to the goalie, and within a minute he was tackling the left winger at the edge of our box. You can’t put a price on that as a manager.
“I thought he epitomised everything about our performance. I would give him 15 out of 10.”
Best, scoring his first goals in Millers colours, believes Darren Wassall’s men paid the price for thinking the game was over at 3-0.
“In my opinion, Derby thought they’d won it and started to roll their foot on the ball a bit,” said the Rams old boy.
“We never stopped and once we got the one it was just a matter of getting a second. And then the third went in! I’m delighted for the whole club.
“We’ve had some great results in the last few games, but I think today showed that everyone is giving their all, everyone is in it together and everyone wants to do well here.
“I think that’s something to be really proud of as a club.”
MK Dons, after drawing at high-flying Hull City, are a point above the Millers, as are Fulham who lost at home to Bristol City to put themselves right in the relegation mix.
Best, whose last goal was during a loan spell at Sheffield Wednesday in April 2014, is no stranger to improbable fightbacks.
He was a scorer in the Newcastle United side that turned a 4-0 half-time deficit at home to Arsenal into a 4-4 Premier League draw in February 2011.
And the 29-year-old believes the Millers ability to defy the odds augurs well for the survival battle which lies ahead in the remaining nine games of the season.
“It feels like a win,” he said. “When I came on, I kind of sensed they thought they’d won it.
“I said to Wardy: ‘You’ll get one here if we keep pressing them.’
“Obviously he did, then we got the second, and then it was an unbelievable ball from him for the third. It’s games like this that you push on from.”