RIVAL boss Nigel Pearson spoke of his admiration for Rotherham United after watching his side suffer defeat at the hands of the Millers.
Paul Warne's men triumphed 2-0 at Bristol City at the weekend to give their chances of Championship survival a huge boost in their final match before the international break.
Headers either side of half-time from Michael Smith and Richard Wood settled the contest in favour of Rotherham who inflicted a sixth successive home loss on the 14th-placed Robins.
"We knew it was going to be a tough game against a side who are very big and very direct," Pearson said.
"They know what they are and what I admire about them is they stick to what they're about."
Rotherham occupy the third and final relegation spot but are now only three points from safety and have four games in hand on most of the teams round them in the table.
Manager Warne wasn't at Ashton Gate on Saturday as he completed his Covid quarantine. Assistant boss Richie Barker took charge and afterwards revealed the words that helped to inspire a sixth away victory of the season for the Millers.
"As a source of motivation, I said to the lads in the hotel before the game that is we won and score from a set-piece we might give them an extra day off," he said.
Wood duly headed home, with the help of a deflection, from a corner in the 74th minute.
Barker, one of nearly 20 people forced into quarantine when coronavirus swept through the Rotherham camp earlier this month, had also been at the helm for the midweek visit of Watford.
He'd ditched his trademark touchline shorts in favour of a tracksuit on that occasion but was back in his usual attire for the Robins clash.
"I needed trackie bottoms because I felt horrendous on Tuesday night," he said. "But we didn't win so the shorts came back out.
Warne was in contact with the dugout during the game and he and Barker talked seconds after the final whistle before a much longer second phone conversation as players and staff travelled home on the team bus.
"I spoke to him at the end and I ran a few things by him about what I was going to say to the lads," the number two said. "He said he would call me later. He was very happy. The win is a boost for him and everyone else at the club."
Warne's ten-day self-isolation is about to end and he is due back at the training ground early this week.