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Warne reflects on ‘bitter-sweet’ point after Millers hit back to earn draw

Rotherham boss Paul Warne felt his side should have claimed all three points, despite coming from two goals down to draw 2-2 at Stoke.

Second-half goals from Michael Smith and Matt Crooks earned the Millers a share of the spoils after Sam Vokes and Sam Clucas had given Stoke a two-goal half-time lead in the Championship clash at the bet365 Stadium.

The result moved Rotherham to within a point of Wigan and safety.

But, while he was proud of his players for their fightback, Warne was still left with a feeling of what might have been.

He said: “It is a little bit bitter-sweet, I feel it was a good opportunity to win a game, we came to win. I thought we were the better team. I’m biased I know, but for the first 25 minutes we were excellent and the goal was definitely against the run of play.

“Our goalkeeper has made one save I think the whole day and obviously (Stoke keeper Jack) Butland has made a few more and the fact that he got man of the match against us, I think that sums it up.

“I felt that our lads were excellent, they kept going and tried desperately to get the win that we need, but unfortunately it wasn’t to be for us.

“I was tearing my hair out at 2-0 because I thought that the lads had lost belief that we could have got anything from the game. I thought we started the game really well, I just thought there were missed chances, but I couldn’t ask more of this team, I love these guys.”

Nathan Jones’ men led after 27 minutes when Ashley Williams’ cross from the right was met by Vokes’ header which he guided into the bottom right-corner past goalkeeper Marek Rodak.

And they doubled their advantage two minutes later when James McClean’s low ball from the left was helped on by Vokes into the path of Clucas, who drove left-footed high beyond Rodak.

The visitors pulled one back after 59 minutes as Anthony Forde’s corner from the right was met by forward Smith, who headed across goal, beating Butland to find the top left-corner.

And Warne’s men earned a point with 73 minutes gone when Will Vaulks’ long-throw was flicked on by Semi Ajayi, with Crooks on hand to steer the ball beyond Butland.

Stoke manager Jones was frustrated his side failed to hold on to their half-time lead.

He said: “Up to half-time we had no problems, we dealt with anything they threw at us, literally, and stuck to our game plan. We knew where we would cause them problems, we scored two from exactly how we worked on them before the game.

“We buckled and that is the worrying thing. We have gone nine games unbeaten and looked really solid, we went back to stuff that we haven’t been doing really well.

“We were outworked, we were outbattled, we lost every header, we lost every ball, they put it down our throat and we couldn’t deal with it. They were putting the ball into our box and we couldn’t deal with them. The discipline and desire wasn’t there.

“You have to lift the crowd with the work-rate, desire and performance and we didn’t do that today, I felt we were poor, and we got what we deserved.”