Rotherham United manager Steve Evans secured Sky Bet Championship football for his side next season with a 2-1 win over Reading at AESSEAL New York Stadium.
Goals from Matt Derbyshire and Lee Frecklington ensured the Millers will compete in the second tier next term, despite a late fightback which saw Oliver Norwood net for the visitors.
Speaking in the wake of his side’s Championship survival a proud Millers boss praised his side’s spirited performance:
“We had to show resolve, character and spirit and we have done that,” Evans exclaimed.
“We should have beaten Fulham last week and Norwich on Saturday, but we’ve got over the line tonight.
“I have to say, if people ever question the integrity of the game you only have to look at the last 15 minutes of that Reading performance. Under Steve Clarke their integrity was at the top end of the scale, but if it had been anything other than a Rotherham win tonight it would have been a travesty.”
The Millers went into the clash with the Royals knowing that a win would see them stave off the challenge of relegation threatened Millwall and ensure they didn’t have to travel to Leeds searching for points on the final day, meaning the Millers boss can now enjoy his trip to West Yorkshire:
“I describe today as going down the 17th and having two holes to win it. I didn’t want to go down the 18th, to Elland Road if I’m honest having to win.
“I look forward to going to Leeds and seeing Redders [Neil Redfearn] and I look forward to going to Elland Road which is a place ive always wanted to take a team as a manager and I get the honour of doing on Saturday.”
Evans also took time to reflect on the bigger picture of his side’s Championship survival, expressing his emotions in the immediate aftermath of the 2-1 win:
“I’m very proud of the football club. It’s been hard work and we haven’t got everything right, especially early in the season.
"We’ve had to work tooth and nail to stay in this league because they just are some wonderful football clubs at this level. Who have very talented guys, whether that be managers, coaching staff or players. It’s a real tough test and everyone who comes into it will find that.”
The Millers are no strangers to big occasions having triumphed in the Play-off final in the capital last summer and once again showed their resolve on a colossal night at AESSEAL New York Stadium:
“In terms of the importance of winning a football match, this was bigger than Wembley. When we went to play Leyton Orient at Wembley we had the opportunity of being in the Championship, now we’ve had it for a season and we want to be part of it going forward.
“We’re very proud of what we have achieved, but we’ll be better next year."