Rotherham United players ‘absolutely devastated’ after late Sunderland drama, admits Paul Warne

A fifth goal of the season from Michael Ihiekwe – who also scored in the reverse game – put the Millers temptingly close to a top-two finish with one game to spare.

But the Millers defender headed spectacularly into his own net two minutes from time to put the play-offs in pursuit as the Wearsiders matched their first effort on target – with a Rotherham player scoring on both ends for the second straight game.

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Despite the smashing development, the Millers remain favorites for a top-two finish ahead of third-placed MK Dons and have a point ahead of them with one game to go. MK visit Plymouth, who sit last in the play-offs, on Saturday, while Rotherham heads to Gillingham, who is fighting for his life at the foot of the table.

Rotherham United chief Paul Warne pictured in Sunderland on Tuesday evening. Pictured: Bruce Rollinson.

But for the next 24 hours Rotherham players will likely be at their lowest as they lick their wounds, before attention turns to the trip to Priestfield Stadium.

Warne, whose side were relegated in the 88th minute at the end of last season in Cardiff, said: “It was a good game. But when you’re 1-0 up you’re still vulnerable and obviously Sunderland threw the kitchen sink at it, rightly so.

“I thought we handled the pressure pretty well. But we just needed that second goal which we didn’t get and you’re still susceptible to a ball, a cross or a clearance.

“Unfortunately it wasn’t meant to be. But I told the guys I was really proud of them and loved them – they are amazing kids. They are absolutely devastated.

“I’m a fatalist. If it’s not meant to be, it’s not meant to be – you just move on to the next game.

“Coming here and winning would have been something that would have stayed with us forever. I said the date – the 26th of the 4th would have been something that would have connected us forever.

“It would have been a feat for us as a football club to be promoted to the league in the toughest Ligue 1 I have ever seen – and to come back here and win.

“It’s painful… They feel depressed. I don’t know if it makes it worse, but we found out Wigan (leaders) lost as well. It was like, ‘Oh my God..’

“But life is never fair is it…I told the guys no one died and you see everything that’s been going on in the world lately. You just conceded a late goal. if we don’t win the weekend and don’t go up, we go to the play-offs.

“The fact that it is (football) is such a rollercoaster and is so unpredictable, which is why everyone loves it.”