Rotherham United boss Paul Warne says he is pleased that the hard-fought point at Southend United keeps his team in the Play-off hunt whilst praising the character of the patched up side that was fielded on Saturday afternoon in Essex.
With illness and injuries rife in the Millers’ camp and midfielder Matt Crooks missing through suspension, many of Warne’s tactical decisions were made for him ahead of the trip to Roots Hall, where his team battled back from behind to earn a precious point in Sky Bet League One.
Speaking following the draw at Southend, Warne admitted the conditions made it difficult for both sides but praised the Millers for their desire to get back into the game.
"We knew that it was going to be a difficult game. It was windy, bobbly and we're carrying some illness and injuries,” he explained.
"With the way we played today, we had to play with a narrow four in midfield and they've probably only got 100 league games between them but I thought the young men - after the initial 15 minutes - did okay.
"On another day we might have nicked it but it wasn't to be.
"We said to them at half time, just keep playing the way you do and we should be okay. They obviously they came out second half, we gave away a needless free kick which was hugely disappointing and went 2-1 down.
"I thought there was really good character from the lads. They've had back-to-back defeats but I thought we really took the game to them then and normally, I like to make my three subs but nobody was playing particularly badly. I threw Carlton on for Smudge at the end thinking he has some real power in the box and he might have got us a goal.”
After Rob Kiernan had turned the ball into his own goal to give Warne’s men the advantage, a Jason Demetriou penalty restored parity before a quickfire second followed from Sam Mantom to edge the hosts ahead.
However, a late onslaught from the Millers saw Freddie Ladapo notch his 11th goal of the season, before the visitors continued to apply pressure to Nathan Bishop’s goal but to no avail.
"We got a goal back and in the end, Freddie could have had a couple, which he created himself.,” Warne continued.
"I thought he was a real nuisance all day, as was Chieo. I thought Jake grew into the game and he was a real threat. In fairness to Wilesy and Dan in the middle they were playing against three.
"Overall, I thought a draw might have pleased them more than me. We were trying to get the win but to come away from home to places like this and get a point to keep us in the Play-off mix is good.
"I hope the fans aren't disappointed. We watched them [Southend] play Bristol Rovers and for the first 45 minutes they battered them. They were 2-0 up and it could have been five. In the end, Bristol Rovers got a goal at home and got the fans behind them. We didn't have that luxury today away from home and the lads' character helped us get back in the game and we should have won it.
"If you asked me before the game, would I have taken a point the answer would be not really. I came here for three, but at 2-1 down better teams than us would collapse but we didn't.
"Win lose or draw, we go in Monday, try and right what is wrong so to speak and try and prepare them for a few home games."