Rotherham boss has squad message after late Sunderland blow: 'When they walk past me to the bus, if they're not smiling I'll fine them'

Rotherham United boss Paul Warne said he didn't feel his side deserved to concede a late equaliser against Sunderland but added that the hosts played 'really well' in a nervy League One clash.

Warne's side were minutes away from all-but sealing automatic promotion to the Championship when Michael Ihiekwe, who had opened the scoring from a corner in the first half, headed Jack Clarke's excellent cross into his own net via the crossbar.

The point means Rotherham's promotion fate is still in their own hands ahead of the final day of the season and Warne said that while his dressing room was 'sore' after the late equaliser, there would be no recriminations.

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"I thought it was a good game, a great atmosphere," Warne said.

Michael Ihiekwe headed Rotherham into a first-half lead at the Stadium of Light

"At 1-0 you're always vulnerable. I thought we rode the pressure quite well, we just needed that second goal which we didn't get, and then you're always susceptible to one ball or cross.

"It wasn't meant to be.

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"I just told the lads I'm really proud of them, we played with confidence and there were some really good performances. But I'm taking nothing away from Sunderland, I think they will feel like they deserved a draw.

"It's sore for us, but once I'm on the bus I'll be OK.

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"I've told the lads that they can feel sore for ten minutes but when they walk past me to the bus, if they're not smiling I'll fine them.

"If we play at that level at the weekend, we'll give ourselves a chance.

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"We didn't take our chances at 1-0; there's no recriminations."

Sunderland did not register a shot on target throughout the game, though they did pose far more of an attacking threat in the second half and finished the game strongly.

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Warne says he would not want to face the Black Cats in a play-off contest as he hailed his side's general defensive efforts through the contest.

"It does make me proud of the performance," Warne said.

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"We knew when we came here that Sunderland are one of the in-form teams. I don't want to drop into the play-offs and play them home and away.

"They made changes, I thought they respectfully made changes because they knew the energy and pace that we had.

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"To limit them to very few chances was good from us. We defended really well, they had one or two moments where they almost got in down the side but we defended well.

"I feel sorry for the lads because I don't think they deserved that, but I am biased.

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"I have the utmost respect for Alex and his team and I thought they played well against a really good League One team.

"That they haven't had a shot on target.. it makes you a bit sick but to be fair I thought Alex Pritchard's free kick went in and I thought I lost a kidney!

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"We weren't quite able to ride it out.

“We now go into the final day. It’s a bit of a rollercoaster, but it is why everyone loves the game.”