Smith earns the plaudits as Rotherham keep survival hopes alive

Rotherham manager Paul Warne hailed striker Michael Smith for helping his team record a vital 2-1 Championship win over Nottingham Forest.

Smith, back in the Millers side after illness sidelined him for the 6-1 hammering at Derby, scored the opener before setting up Michael Ihiekwe for the winner on the hour after Lewis Grabban had hauled Forest level in the 28th minute.

Rotherham’s first win over Forest in 23 attempts leaves them a point from safety with six games remaining, while in turn severely denting the visitors’ play-off hopes.​

Warne said: “He (Smith) has come on no end. People who come and watch and don’t think he’s a good player obviously don’t understand football.​

“It is no surprise that when our best players are here, we’re a better team. He played well and was one of many. I thought there were some good performances.​

“It was quite an open game and edgy at times for both teams. There wasn’t a great deal of quality in the first half. I thought we played a lot better in the second and I am pleased with the win.​

“There were some really good performances. I am exhausted but over the moon. We rode our luck initially but I just had a funny feeling it might be our day.”​

Warne feels the win has brought more teams into the relegation mix, so increasing their chances of survival.​

“The three points were essential and it pulls other teams into it,” added Warne.​

“Our lads can’t give much more. How well we are competing and how hard we are to play against is testament to the lads.​

“We did see the game out quite well in injury time and frustrated them and got free-kicks. When the referee blew it was a joy.​ The lads will take confidence from this.”​

Forest manager Martin O’Neill was left frustrated his players did not stand up to the physical challenges he had prepared them for.​

“I am naturally disappointed we conceded from the set-pieces,” said O’Neill. “We have tried in recent weeks to be as strong as we possibly can defensively.​

“We have been able to do it at the other end offensively. ​

“I thought we would go on to take control of the game. I know we hit the post a couple of times in the first half. ​

“We got the equaliser and then Grabban had a good chance but the goalkeeper made a good save. Then it was a free header (for the second goal).​

“These type of margins in games like this are everything​

“This is not the early part of the season where we can look at it. We are in the real business end now and to lose games like this is obviously a set-back for us.​

“I think we were ready for the game but unfortunately we did not deal enough with the set-pieces and it has cost us.”

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Football Paradise Staff Reporter

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