Paul Warne assessed a remarkable display and victory in the South Yorkshire derby at Hillsborough, as the Millers triumphed deep in stoppage-time thanks to Freddie Ladapo’s 97th-minute winner.
Rotherham had to work for the win, with injuries and suspensions taking their toll on the squad, but Michael Smith’s red card in the second half made it all the more difficult for Paul Warne.
“It’s pretty Disney-like tonight. I don’t often say that. I thought we played well first half, but not as well as we could. The pitch was a bit lively. We didn’t’ play as well but we did create the best chances. I thought Flo was a constant threat down the right, as was Ryan with the ball down the left. We were putting crosses in. We’ve been missing chances in recent weeks and we score two absolute worldies.
“I was really pleased with the first half. Obviously, to go down to ten men and battle the way we did, then get a winning goal like that was absolutely surreal. If nothing else happens to me in football management, I’ll never forget that. It’s heartbreaking with no fans in but just walking across the pitch to go to the dressing room hugging the lads is a brilliant feeling.
“I told them that we were playing for Rotherham people, Rotherham families, for your dads. I had Hammy’s dad Phil (helping with the kit), who’s a great bloke, in the dressing room beforehand, saying ‘our careers go like that and you’re doing it for your families.’”
In a tight and tense derby, Michael Smith’s fine 17th minute header gave the Millers a deserved lead, before the big man was sent off for a clash with Julian Borner. A tremendously unlucky own goal brought the scores level, but up stepped substitute Freddie Ladapo to score in the 97th minute.
“The fact that we scored the way we did was just surreal. I’ve had so much bad luck at this place, I just thought our performance deserved a bit of Disney and tonight we got it.
“Obviously, we’re not top of the league so we have faults in our team. You could hear us shouting, screaming and trying to help them. I’m just really pleased for them because it’s something that’ll never get taken off them.
“Breck always tells me about how good his 80s team was and they never did the double over Wednesday, so I’m looking forward to bringing my book out next year! It’s just a really good feeling, but the sad thing is I don’t get to stay in the dressing room long enough.
“Tonight is the proudest (I’ve been). I know it’s just a league game against a local rival but what we’ve been through in the last five or six games, that was a real character performance and that means more to me than anything.”