Derby County man makes big claim on how Rams ‘would have’ beaten Sheffield Wednesday in the play-offs and bemoans 'dubious' penalty
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That’s the belief of crestfallen Rams boss Paul Warne, who in an honest post-match interview made the claim and made clear how proud he was of his players despite a narrow Wednesday win having ended their quest for play-off qualification on the very last day.
Whoever finished sixth would have done battle with the Owls at the play-off semi-final stage and Warne – known for honest, heart-on-the-sleeve press engagements – said his side would have won out against the Hillsborough outfit.
Warne told Rams TV: “We’d got ourselves in a position we could make the play-offs and I honestly feel that if we’d played this lot [Wednesday] over two legs home and away, that we’d go through.
“Then you get to Wembley and it’s the flick of a coin but as you’ve seen over the last few months, our big players in big games have been excellent. The club has come a long way but it is heartbreaking.”
The result meant that Derby failed to score against Wednesday in two tight league outings. A first half sending off for Curtis Davies delivered a cold slap of double jeopardy in that Michael Smith scored the winner from the resultant spot kick.
Davies was adjudged to have brought down Marvin Johnson in an obvious goal scoring position – a decision the Rams found to be harsh.
“The lads gave everything they could,” Warne said. “I think we were the better side up until the dubious sending-off.
“I asked at half-time about what character we had and in the second half the 10 men ran their blood to stone and gave everything. We still managed to create good opportunities against a very good team who went full-strength.
“My overall feeling is one of disappointment, obviously. We’ve given some great moments to a great fan base this season but were just short. If I’m really honest at times as good as we were that showed.
“Guts and character and all that? We’re not [short of them], but we are just missing a little bit.”