Clean sheets can point way to safety for Rotherham United, says Paul Warne

HEAD COACH Paul Warne believes Rotherham United's miserly defence can reap valuable points in their fight to stay in the Championship.

Rotherham United manager Paul Warne (Picture: Tony Johnson).
Rotherham United manager Paul Warne (Picture: Tony Johnson).

Fourth-from-bottom Millers have already chalked up five clean sheets this season – in contrast neighbours Sheffield Wednesday have not collected a single shut-out in their opening 14 games – the latest coming in Tuesday night’s stalemate at Middlesbrough.

For a squad operating on the smallest budget in the Championship, Rotherham’s defensive strength is testament to Warne’s work on the training ground.

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Before the clean sheet at the Riverside, Ipswich Town, Millwall, Derby County and Bristol City had all tried and failed to breach the Millers’ defence.

“We are really pleased with that (statistic),” said Millers manager Warne. “We set out with a target at the start of the season for the amount of clean sheets we could get.

“We are on the same number as we were in League One last year (after 14 games) with virtually the same team.

“We were everyone’s favourites to get relegated, so if you are going to pick up points then clean sheets allow you to at least collect one point.

“We have worked really hard. Out of possession I think we are one of the better teams, we are really organised and diligent.

“Being that way might affect us at the other end at times, so it’s a thin line between being gung-ho and being sensible. At the moment I feel like we have got the balance right.”

Rotherham have tightened up at the back since the opening-day 5-1 loss at Brentford.

Warne could even afford to leave out influential centre-half Richard Wood at Boro – Clark Robertson stepping in – as they frustrated their high-flying hosts.

It was Rotherham’s first away point of the season after six successive league defeats.

Warne said: “I think it was a fair result. Either team could have nicked it at 0-0.

“I thought the lads did really well, in fact not a lot different than they have done in a lot of the other away games. It was a good performance and one we can build on. Our performances away from home have been good.

“Apart from Brentford – where we were outplayed – I think we have done really well, and we deserve more than what we have got on our travels. For us to get our first point on the board, we have got that out of the way, now we need our first win.”