STEVE BRUCE hopes Rotherham United can win their fight for survival after admitting his Sheffield Wednesday side had been fortunate to rescue a point from an entertaining derby.
The Millers had seemed firmly on course for a victory that would have taken Paul Warne’s men out of the bottom three.
A dramatic equaliser in the tenth minute of stoppage time by debutant Dominic Iorfa, however, shattered those dreams and ensured the Millers will head to fourth-bottom Reading next weekend still in the dropzone.
“Rotherham cause you problems,” said Bruce, who had Fernando Forestieri dismissed for a second yellow card incurred when celebrating Iorfa’s dramatic late leveller. “We forgot it was a game of football and we got sucked into their way of playing. We struggled at times to deal and got away with it in the finish.
“But we did say (to the players) Rotherham do concede in the last few minutes. I don’t know how many but it seems a lot. But I hope for the area Rotherham manage to pull away with the spirit and attitude they have got.”
Bruce’s relief at escaping the New York Stadium with a draw was in stark contrast to the frustration felt by Millers counterpart Warne at missing out on what would have been a deserved three points.
But the United chief added: “I do feel honoured to be their manager. I am disappointed with the way it ended but it doesn’t detract from the fact how proud I am of the performance. I thought we were excellent.
“The lads took on board all the information we gave them. I said prior to the game, ‘There are 1,300 minutes left and we will finish the season strongly because we are fit and strong’. I wanted them to play with a real passion. They did that.
“The only criticism I have got is that we didn’t take the chances we had. Or even a good percentage. We scored two but I thought we could have had five.”
Warne was left bemused by Wednesday equalising so late after referee Darren England had initially indicated there would be eight minutes stoppage time.
Are you telling me that Rotherham fans don’t want to turn us over more than anyone else? Of course they do.Steve Bruce
A head injury suffered by Jordan Thorniley was the cause of the original delay but the Owls defender was leaving the field to be replaced by Iorfa as the fourth official held up the board.
“I don’t know where the extra time has come from,” he added. “If there is extra time on the eight then I don’t know where from. There was no injury, no goal, no substitution. I was going to make a substitution but didn’t because I thought he would just add another 30 seconds on.”
Asked if he planned to seek an explanation from the officials, Warne replied: “It makes no difference, it is a waste of breath. He will apologise or something and I will just politely say, ‘Okay’.
“Anyway, we should still defend the corner better. That said, I was proud of the lads. This shows we can go toe to toe with everyone. We have proved that this year. I am not saying we were playing Real Madrid or anything like that. But there were some really good performances.”
Bruce, meanwhile, defended his pre-match comments about Saturday’s game being like “a Cup final” for the Millers.
“That was not meant to disrespect Rotherham,” he said. “Again, it is where the world has gone mad. I did make a statement that it is a Cup final for Rotherham. But are you telling me that Rotherham fans don’t want to turn us over more than anyone else? Of course they do.
“It was their Cup final and they played like it. I wanted more of a reaction from us.”
Iorfa’s delight: Page 2