Paul Warne described today’s victory over Preston North End as “Relieving, pleasing and inspiring” as the Millers boss reflected on the 2-1 win at AESSEAL New York Stadium.
With six changes from Wednesday night’s defeat to Luton Town, the Rotherham manager saw a big uplift from his side to see off a Preston North End team in red hot form on their travels.
“I said to the lads beforehand and told them a couple of stories about how hard it is to become a professional footballer and how hard it is to get in the team,” Warne said.
“The ups and downs of football life is pretty brutal. I said it’s all for these next two hours – that’s all it’s about. It doesn’t matter if you train well on a Thursday. I asked them to leave everything out there and if they weren’t on the receiving end of a good result, then as long as they’d put in a good performance we’d be proud of them.
“I thought, first half, we were excellent and deserved to take the lead. Unfortunately we have to create a lot of chances to score, which does leave us more vulnerable, obviously. To go 1-0 up and concede pretty late on, I was pleased that the lads weren’t happy with a point and they wanted the three points. We had the bravery to still attack and, overall, we deserved the win. I thought we had more clear-cut chances and there were some brilliant performances.
“I’m really pleased with my goalkeeper. I love goalkeepers who are risk takers, who come for things. He definitely did that and he saved us a couple of times today. That and the four other changes had a real, positive impact.”
Captain Richard Wood opened the scoring with a well-taken volley in the second half, but the visitors restored parity through Ryan Ledson. However, the Millers went for the winner and found it through Matt Crooks after being played in by Florian Jozefzoon.
“The fact that he’s (Richard Wood) scored is pleasing,” added Warne.
“We’ve asked the lads to increase their intensity on set-pieces. Woody has been excellent for us over the years. On set-pieces and in terms of organisation he’s a real force. I showed the lads before the game something on Twitter of the captain at Liverpool and how much he talks on the pitch – and that’s what Woody brings.
“Crooksy to score as well and the way he took his goal was excellent. Sometimes a draw is a good point, but it would have felt disappointing today. The fact the team feel they had a chance to win the game, the lads kept going and a few of the lads were hanging by a thread.
“I thought Freddie led the line really well and Vass brought something to us and blew up, so Crooksy came on.”