Millers boss Paul Warne revealed that his side’s last-gasp victory over Accrington Stanley, thanks to Ben Wiles’ stoppage time header, was one of his most satisfying at the Rotherham helm.
The Millers looked set to be knocked off the summit of the Sky Bet League One standings with the game at the Wham Stadium drifting to a draw but Wiles, on as a substitute, sent the large travelling Millers hordes back over the Pennines, in jubilant mood, when he nodded Dan Barlaser’s cross into the far corner of the net, to give Warne’s side their fourth victory in five games.
Speaking to the assembled media afterwards, Warne struggled to contain his delight at the manner of his side’s victory, which maintained their push for automatic promotion.
“It felt like one of the most satisfying wins I’ve had as a manager.” Warne enthused.
“It’s always the same away from home when you shoot to your fans and there were a lot of them here today, which I thank them for. For that goal to go in so late on, I was praying we would hang on. It was a nervy five minutes and I was really pleased.”
In difficult conditions, there was a little to separate the sides’ for much of a tight Roses clash – with chances at a premium. Following a lacklustre first 45 minutes, Rotherham were rewarded for a much better second half performance when substitute Freddie Ladapo notched his 15th goal of the season, just minutes after coming off the bench, but Millers’ joy proved short-lived, as Jordan Clark equalised for the home side almost immediately.
With the game heading for a draw, Wiles came off the bench to turn the game in the Millers favour – although there was further drama when Offrande Zanzala headed over, in the dying seconds, before Matt Crooks almost put gloss on the scoreline when he struck the woodwork, in the game’s last act.
“Overall, I was disappointed with the first half performance.” Warne added.
“They caused us problems and they should have gone a goal up at the break. Our second half performance was better and justified the win for us. We weren’t as good at set pieces today, whether that was the wind, but we did enough to win and to score, so late on feels like a big win for us.
“There were lot of breaks and fouls in the game and there was not a flow to it. We did not put enough decent crosses in, especially in the first-half. It wasn’t good conditions but it was the same for both teams.”
In a finely poised affair, Warne was delighted with the impact of his three substitutes with Wiles and Ladapo finding the scoresheet while Josh Koroma injected much-needed attacking impetus, near the end.
“We wanted to change it as sometimes it’s not your day.” Warne added.
“I thought Freddie would cause them different problems. I put Vass out wide and it was a game for athletes. Wilsey has a lot of pace and people do not appreciate how quick he is while Josh was really good today, when he came on.
“I thought Freddie was a bright spark for us. His attitude in training has been spot on and he backs himself to score goals. I thought his mobility was the difference for us when he came on. The game suited Freddie and I’m really happy he got the goal for us.”