Paul Warne was left a broken man after watching his Rotherham side’s courageous fight against relegation end in despair.
The Millers were set for a great escape after Lewis Wing’s thunderous volley put them within touching distance of Championship safety.
While Derby and Sheffield Wednesday battled for survival, Warne’s men were doing everything but scoring the goal that would have sent both their rivals down.
Rotherham have been relegated back down to League One after their late defeat to Cardiff
Paul Warne’s side looked to be minutes from survival before Marlon Pack’s 88th minute goal
Rotherham players look on dejected after conceding with minutes to spare against Cardiff
They eventually paid the price for missed chances two minutes from time when Marlon Pack equalised for Cardiff, but Warne says they had nothing more to give.
‘I hope pride will overcome the sadness,’ said the Millers manager. ‘I’ve been asked about my future, but I’m absolutely broken. We dedicate our lives for 10 months, and right now I can’t see any sunshine
‘I feel a bit hollow and devastated for the group. I wanted them to leave the stage like heroes.
Cardiff: Phillips, Flint, Pack, Nelson, Ng, Bacuna (Williams 59), Ralls, Brown, Colwill (Harris 46), Wilson (Ojo 77), Kieffer Moore (Murphy 59) (Bamba 95)
Subs: Smithies, Tomlin, Evans, Bowen
Goal: Pack 88
Rotherham: Blackman, Ihiekwe (Ladapo 90), Angus MacDonald, Wood, Harding, Jozefzoon (Lindsay 62), Wiles (Mattock 87), Wing (Ogbene 92), Giles, Crooks, Smith
Subs: Johansson, Mattock, Shaun MacDonald, Ogbene, Sadlier, Olosunde, Barlaser
Goal: Wing 8
Booked: Ihiekwe, Wiles
Referee: Graham Scott (Oxfordshire)
Lewis Wing had given Rotherham a glimmer of hope after his eighth minute goal
Wing had a chance to double his side’s advantage from close range but missed
Rotherham players have their head in their hands after Wing missed a big chance for the side
‘There will be different people in the changing room next season, but that group of players should be cemented as gods of Rotherham.
‘If someone gave you a car, you’d think great. If you have something together as a group of warriors, it would have been amazing. It was snatched off us, it feels so harsh.’
After a tumultuous season in which Rotherham looked dead and buried, things seemed to be finally going their way on a chaotic final day.
Joe Ralls consoles Rotherham’s Angus MacDonald moments after the final whistle
Sol Bamba hugs Rotherham manager Paul Warne before coming on as a sub in stoppage time
They were given lift-off by Wing’s stunning volley in just the eighth minute — a fierce strike from 25 yards out that goalkeeper Dillon Phillips barely saw before it hit the back of the net. But the visitors then missed a string of opportunities to seal their safety.
The Rotherham bench were going through a rollercoaster of emotions as news filtered through of the score in the back-and-forth battle between Derby and Sheffield Wednesday.
But in the end, they only had themselves to blame when Pack drilled a low strike into the bottom corner, meaning the Millers’ stand against relegation fell just short.