Steve Evans is adamant his Rotherham side has what it takes to win promotion to the Championship, despite suffering a disappointing 1-0 defeat to Sheffield United on Tuesday night.
The Millers have propelled themselves into third in League One with a 16-match unbeaten run but saw that fine spell of form come to an end at Bramall Lane this week.
Whilst unhappy with the penalty decision which ultimately cost his side, Evans says his team must continue to maintain the high standards they’ve set for themselves this term to keep their promotion dream alive.
“Premiership referee Mike Dean gives them a penalty that nobody else in the ground sees. I’m not questioning his integrity, he thinks it’s a penalty. But the DVD shows it’s clearly not – and it’s fine margins that win football matches,” Evans told FL72 Preview.
“We didn’t perform on the night, though. We didn’t come away from Bramall Lane with any plusses or positives from our performances and when you do that you don’t think you deserve to win. We’re good enough to go up but you have to perform on the day.”
However, Evans’ frustrations must be put into perspective – few Rotherham fans would have been expecting to see their side in the position they are today, when just 18 months ago they were languishing in League Two.
Former Crawley and Boston boss Evans steered the side to automatic promotion to the third tier in 2013 and says the current investment being made in the club by chairman Tony Stewart is allowing them to shock and upset more established rivals.
“When I joined the club almost two years ago they were midtable in League Two and it didn’t look like getting much better,” he said.
“Of course there was a plan the chairman had, who has invested around £30m building the stadium and bringing the infrastructure into the team. He deserves it.
“I gave up League One with Crawley Town to come down to Rotherham. Many people raised an eyebrow and a lot of people in the game said they wouldn’t want the pressure but we felt we could come to Rotherham United and take them to the Championship. We’re still fighting for that.
“No one gave us any sliver of a chance when we got promoted to League One and we go into the match with Bradford City with more points than the league leaders had in League One at this stage last season.”
Rotherham’s clash with the Bantams is live on Sky Sports 2 on Friday night and Evans is eager to see his side prime themselves for the play-offs by getting back to winning ways against their neighbours – who the Millers have already beaten twice this term.
“Bradford have had a great two years. They got promoted like we did last season and they had their run in the Capital One Cup last year – but this is probably their last big game of the season,” said Evans.
“It’s a derby and then after that they’ll start to get ready for their summer holidays, while we’ve got the play-offs to get ready for.”