So close to survival ... Cardiff City 1 Rotherham United 1

So close to survival ... Cardiff City 1 Rotherham United 1

By Paul Davis | 08/05/2021

So close to survival ... Cardiff City 1 Rotherham United 1
Matt Crooks in last-day action at Cardiff. Picture by Jim Brailsford

ROTHERHAM United couldn't give manager Paul Warne the only birthday present he wanted as they suffered relegation on the last day of the Championship season.

The Millers gave everything at Cardiff City and at one stage, as they led 1-0, looked to be only minutes away from an amazing survival feat.

Manager Warne turned 48 today but any celebrations were ended when his side conceded an equaliser two minutes from time, rendering events elsewhere between Derby County and Sheffield Wednesday meaningless.

Rotherham went down with pride but will rue missed opportunites in the first half that could have seen them out of sight at the City of Cardiff Stadium.

Not taking their chances has been one of the stories of their campaign.

They got off to the kind of start they would have dreamed of, going ahead in the eighth minute when Wing despatched a sumptuous volley from the edge of the area beyond Dillon Phillips

Wes Harding had crossed from the right and Perry Ng's clearing header found the Middlesbrough loanee in the perfect spot to apply a devastating finish.

The Millers were fighting for their lives and seven minutes later Wing tries his luck again from further out. This time he was high and wide and only the ball-boy in the stand behind the net had any cause for concern.

All the play was at the home end and it needed a strong block from Aden Flint to keep out Matt Crooks' goalbound 22nd-minute effort before skipper Richard Wood just failed to hit the target with a header at the back post.

The rain was teeming down in South Wales but nothing was dampening the spirit of the fired-up visitors who were dominating proceedings.

Crooks released Smith down the left on the half-hour and took the return ball only to slice a golden opportunity wide.

Soon afterwards it was Angus MacDonald's turn to be denied by a crucial Flint block and then Smith drove a low shot wide as Rotherham chased the second goal their play deserved.

Rotherham headed in for the break satisfied with their efforts but knowing the margin of their lead should have been greater and hoping their misses wouldn't come back to haunt them.

Warne had thrown everything at it, going with a front three of Michael Smith, Matt Crooks and Florian Jozefzoon in a bid to get the only result that mattered.

In defence, Angus MacDonald returned to a three-man backline despite a troublesome calf and Jamal Blackman, who didn't have a save to make in the first half, kept his place in goal.

Cardiff immediately looked better after the interval and Millers old boy Kieffer Moore fired over within three minutes of the resumption.

Four minutes, later Cardiff broke and looked set to level until Richard Wood produced a captain's intervention to deny Moore.

The Millers met fire with fire, Smith breaking down the right to latch on to Wing's pass and test Phillips at the keeper's near post.

The Bluebirds were stepping up the pace. Ng shot over and Harry Wilson brought a first stop from Blackman.

Rotherham came again and Crooks set up Wing only for the scorer to fluff his lines as the goal opened up for him on 75 minutes.

Wing was much closer as he curled a shot past the post seeking the goal that would end the contest.

Only two minutes remained when Cardiff struck the killer blow, Marlon Pack breaking Millers hearts by drilling the ball low and past Blackman.

No party for the Millers, no party for Warne.

Goals: Wing 8 (Rotherham); Pack 88 (Cardiff).

Cardiff (3-4-2-1): Dillon Phillips; Marlon Pack, Aden Flint, Curtis Nelson; Perry Ng, Leandro Bacuna (Jonny Williams 59), Joe Ralls, Ciaron Brown; Harry Wilson (Sheyi Ojo 77), Rubin Colwill (Mark Harris H-T); Kieffer Moore (Josh Murphy 59, Sol Bamba 90+3)). Subs not used: Alex Smithies, Sam Bowen, Jake Evans, Lee Tomlin.

Rotherham (3-4-3): Jamal Blackman; Michael Ihiekwe (Freddie Ladapo 90), Richard Wood, Angus MacDonald; Wes Harding, Lewis Wing (Chiedozie Ogbene 90), Ben Wiles (Joe Mattock 87), Ryan Giles; Florian Jozefzoon (Jamie Lindsay 62), Michael Smith, Matt Crooks. Subs not used: Vikor Johansson, Matt Olosunde, Shaun MacDonald, Dan Barlaser, Kieran Sadlier.

Referee: Graham Scott (Oxfordshire).

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