RICHIE Barker described Rotherham United's squad as "devastated" after they conceded a last-minute goal to lose 2-1 at home to Norwich City in the Championship.
The assistant manager says the Millers players had been desperate to earn a result for boss Paul Warne who had to watch the match against his boyhood from his Tickhill home because he is self-isolating.
Rotherham, down to ten men after the 70th-minute sending-off of centre-half Angus MacDonald, looked set for a point until the Canaries struck from the spot in the 95th minute.
“The lads are devastated," Barker said. "They wanted to do it for the manager because they are well aware of the his Norwich connections. They are devastated because of the effort they have put in. It's a monumental effort for no points."
The Millers gave arguably their best display of the season and Freddie Ladapo, who had opened the scoring, missed a penalty that would have given them a 2-0 lead in the first half before defender Michael Ihiekwe put through his own goal after the break.
Debutant Florian Jozefzoon, on as a substitute after his loan move from Derby County, gave away the last-gasp penalty that was converted by Canaries striker Jordan Hugill to drop the Millers to 17th in the table.
“It's a hard one to take, no matter the time of the goal, because of the quality of our performance," Barker said. "The game hinged around four key points: the penalty miss, the own goal, the red card and their penalty.
“I am immensely proud of the players. Things just didn't go our way. "The players have to take confidence from it. We have more than matched and competed with Norwich.
“I thought we had the two best chances after we went down to ten men. A lot of things worked towards us not winning the game.
“We FaceTimed Paul before the game and at half-time. He said it was even worse watching it from home than being there, but he will be proud of the players.”