MILLERS’ TALE OF­FERS HOPE FOR RE­VIVAL

The Football League Paper - - CHAMPIONSHIP - By Jonathan Veal

ROTHER­HAM’S away cam­paign may have ended with­out a win all sea­son for just the sec­ond time in the club’s his­tory, but boss Paul Warne is pleased at the pos­i­tive signs on show.

The 1-1 draw at Pre­ston meant the Millers took just two points from their 23 games on the road in a mis­er­able year dur­ing which they did not taste an away vic­tory for the first time since 1932-33.

But this point at Deep­dale, which came after Richie Small­wood’s early strike was can­celled out by Ste­vie May, ended a run of 14 suc­ces­sive away losses and comes a week after a morale-build­ing win over Ip­swich.

And Warne is pleased with how his side are end­ing the cam­paign.

“A few games ago I told the lads to use this as a mini-sea­son and I think their stan­dards in all of those games has been ex­cel­lent,” he said.

“I am pretty proud of what the lads have put in and I think there are green shoots for next sea­son so I am a proud man­ager.

“The lads can take con­fi­dence from this and if they fin­ish the sea­son like that at least the fans can see they are proud to wear the shirt.

“Ev­ery­one in­volved with Rother­ham United should be proud of their team.

“The lads stuck to the game­plan re­ally well, we de­fended res­o­lutely to the last minute. Back to front I thought we were great.

“We were tight all over the pitch so I am happy.”

The Millers hit the ground run­ning and surged into a ninth­minute lead when Small­wood scored a su­perb goal, tak­ing down a clear­ance from a cor­ner and send­ing a low vol­ley into the far cor­ner from the edge of the box.

Tom Adeyemi and Richard Wood had fur­ther chances to ex­tend the lead and those misses were costly as May brought Pre­ston level with an even bet­ter strike just be­fore the break.

The for­mer Sh­effield Wed­nes­day striker made up for lost time on his first start since Oc­to­ber 2015 as he beau­ti­fully curled a 20yard ef­fort into the top cor­ner.

Nei­ther side could claim they de­served to go on and win it after the break, with Ai­den McGeady go­ing clos­est for Pre­ston when he al­most scored with an over-hit cross be­fore whip­ping afree-kick just wide.

The draw means Pre­ston are just the sec­ond team to fail to beat Rother­ham at home this sea­son, fol­low­ing Ip­swich in Oc­to­ber, and their sea­son is end­ing with a whim­per, com­ing on the back of four suc­ces­sive losses.

Man­ager Si­mon Grayson is proud at how their cam­paign has gone, though.

“We wanted to get that feel­good vibe back and put the last few re­sults be­hind us,” he said. “So it wasn’t the best way to fin­ish the home sea­son but we can still be very proud of what we have done.

“We are very close to get­ting more points than last year, we’ve scored more goals, we are on course to fin­ish higher po­si­tion­ally and that was al­ways the aim given it is a much tougher league this year.”

On the game, he added: “I’m a lit­tle bit dis­ap­pointed be­cause we have had some re­ally good per­for­mances against some good teams, we have played some freeflow­ing foot­ball and we wanted to pro­duce a per­for­mance for the sup­port­ers out there.”

PIC­TURE: ProS­ports/ Pete Burns

NO WAY OUT: Rother­ham United de­fender Dar­nell Fisher tus­sles with Pre­ston winger Ai­den McGeady

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