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Joe thanks to '12th man'

19 May 2014

Joe Skarz talks to www.themillers.co.uk...

EVER-reliable Joe Skarz was quick to hail the Millers' faithful for being his side's 12th man during their emotionally-charged play-off victory over Preston North End last Thursday.

Steve Evans' men came out on top following an enthralling Roses battle to book a Wembley date with Leyton Orient with the chance to ply their trade in England's second tier at stake.

Speaking exclusively to www.themillers.co.uk, Skarz revealed the passionate NYS crowd inspired his side to victory, especially after the Lancashire side took the initiative by grabbing an early goal.

"The fans were brilliant even when we went one-nil down and they spurred the lads on," he enthused.

"There's no better fans in the country than ours when the ground is full as the stadium creates such a fantastic atmosphere."

Despite Paul Gallagher's fortuitous opening goal, the visitors' joy proved short-lived as Bournemouth loanee Wes Thomas levelled matters with a clever header before the tie was turned on its head when midfield maestro Lee Frecklington put the home side in charge with another well-placed header.

Following the restart, Rotherham gave themselves a two-goal cushion thanks to Kieran Agard's 26th goal of the season and despite a few late scares, the Millers' held on as the NYS witnessed scenes of unbridled joy, reminiscent of the memorable League Two promotion clincher against Aldershot last campaign.

With emotions still high well after the final whistle, Skarz admitted the game will live long in the memory and rank amongst his career highlights to date. 

"It was certainly an evening to remember," Skarz added.

"We didn't start too well and when they scored, I thought it was going to be a long evening but the lads showed tremendous character and we showed our spirit and togetherness.

"I thought we played well all night and Prings (Ben Pringle) and Tavs (James Tavernier) put some great deliveries into the box while Kieran (Agard) was outstanding and Revs (Alex Revell) and Wes (Thomas) were almost unplayable at times.

"I can’t really sum it all up but we still have a massive job to do. 

"The gaffer, backroom staff and chairman deserve enormous credit for what we've done at this club but we can't celebrate anything as we've still got one game to go."

Russell Slade's high-flying Leyton Orient stand in the way of the Millers' realising their Championship dream.

With honours even with the Londoners during the regular season as each side notched victories on their home patch, the ex-Bury and Huddersfield defender admits the Wembley showpiece will be a close one to call.

"Leyton Orient are a fantastic team and they are not in the final for nothing." he warned. 

"They outplayed Peterborough and we know their frontmen are a threat as they have scored a lot of goals but there will be two good teams out there.

"We know we're going to have an even bigger battle against Orient and the prize is the Championship, which all the lads here desperately want."

After putting pen to paper on a permanent deal with the Millers last summer following a successful loan stint, Skarz has been a key component in the Millers meteoric rise up the football pyramid with his consistent displays at full-back adding defensive steel to the Rotherham backline and solving one of his manager's conundrums last season.

With his fairytale Millers career all set to continue on the hallowed turf of Wembley, Skarz revealed he hasn't been surprised by the rapid progress of his side on and off the pitch, as he felt the club was always a Championship club in the making as he made the switch over the Pennines. 

Despite the dream only being 90 minutes away, Skarz is quick to fire a cautionary note to fans and players alike. 

"I said when I came here, this was a club destined for big things and since I have been here, it has been success after success," he remarked.

"I can't really believe I'll be playing at Wembley. When you grow up, that's what you want to achieve and I bet my phone is buzzing with text after text already asking for tickets. 

"We know we've just got one final hurdle to go and we know we will only enjoy the day if we are victorious. 

"We've not won anything yet and the lads will have to go again if we are to go where we all want to be."

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