MK Dons 2 Rotherham United 3
Gilbey (4) Barlaser (66)
Mason (13) Ladapo (71, 86)
This really was a game of two halves this afternoon at a wet and dismal Stadium MK with the Millers going in at half-time two-down and to boos from their away following to come back in the second half and get all three points.
It might have been different in the first half had Matt Crooks had help in the opening minute after he pounced on a poor pass from Dean Lewington he got himself into a good position for a cross but lacking support the ball his cross-cum-shot went out of play. At the other end former Miller Jordan Bowery saw an attempt at goal blocked before they opened the scoring on four minutes when Baily Cargill went on an amazing run and found Alex Gilbey in space who scored from a tight angle although perhaps Daniel Iversen in the Millers’ goal could have done a little better. And Gilbey could have doubled the lead minutes later but his shot went by the Millers’ ‘keeper and scraped the post on it’s way out of play. On thirteen minutes the Rotherham defence stood still and let Callum Brittain send a ball into the box which was half cleared before finding Joe Mason whose shot from just outside the box was unstoppable to make it two-nil. And it might have been more if not for Iversen who punched a shot away from Conor McGrandles before a Bowery centre found Mason with the shot stopper saving from close range. Crooks and Jake Hastie had half chances which didn’t bother anybody before a super save by Iversen from Brittain kept the Millers in the game. A Hastie cross found Michael Smith who in turn found Carlton Morris who looked certain to score but somehow got the ball under his foot and the ball went wide. With three minutes of the half left Crooks saw yellow for a foul on Lewington and in time added on a Millers corner found Dan Barlaser who saw his shot from long-range deflected into the arms of Dons’ ‘keeper Lee Nicholls.
To be honest I was dreading the second half – I thought we were going to get battered after a first half when the players didn’t seem to know who each other was, where they were playing, wayward passing and even the usually reliable Iversen looked out of sorts.
But, the Millers made a couple of half-time substitutions fetching on Freddie Ladapo and Kyle Vassell for Michael Smith and Matt Crooks and moved players about a bit and immediately it looked better. An early Dan Barlaser corner was easily plucked out of the air by Lee Nicholls before Michael Ihiekwe sent Matthew Olosunde on his way only for his shot to be blocked. Billy Jones couldn’t quite get a cross into the waiting Carlton Morris followed by Olosunde twisting past his marker and having a shot at goal which was put out for a corner. A Millers free-kick saw Barlaser give it to Vassell whose shot might have been destined for the net if it hadn’t hit someone on its way and a minute later another chance saw a super shot from Ladapo bring off an equally super save from Nicholls. Olosunde was causing some problems down the wing and a yellow card was produced for Alex Gilbey who found the only way to stop him was to flatten him. Nicholls was in action again when he dashed off his line to save from Morris which was followed by a yellow card for Millers’ skipper Ihiekwe for dissent. On the our mark the hosts came close when Regan Poole showed some smart feet to get on the wrong side of Jake Hastie with his shot going inches wide while Nicholls raced out of his goal again at the other end this time to stop Ladapo in his path followed by Joe Walsh getting to a cross from Barlaser before it found Ladapo. The last Millers substitution saw Trevor Clarke on for Hastie and with the substitute lurking a minute later Nicholls did well to stop a ball from Morris reach him. Eventually the visitors scored after Baily Cargill dithered in the box and Barlaser saw his chance tapping the ball into the net. The hosts brought on Hiram Boateng for Callum Brittain. Five minutes later Rotherham were level when a Vassell free-kick found the head of Ihiekwe who sent the ball down to Ladapo who tapped the ball over the line. A good ball in from Clarke saw Ladapo have his shirt pulled by Cargill as he shot towards goal with referee Ross Joyce immediately pointing to the penalty spot. Ladapo took the spot kick himself beating Nicholls but hitting the crossbar with the ball going out to safety. Good work from Nicholls stopped Ladapo in his tracks followed by Conor McGrandles going off and Ben Reeves coming on for the hosts. Jordan Bowery saw a header go wide followed by a yellow card for Morris for what looked like dissent. Some lovely work from Ben Wiles saw him wind his way past two MK Dons players and found Vassell who decided to shoot when it might have been better to pass. At the other end the a cross into the box towards Bowery was first headed away by Ihiekwe before Robertson got it to safety. Clark Robertson rose highest to a Vassell corner but it was a tame header not worrying anyone. Jordan Bowery left the field replaced by Brennan Dickenson with eight minutes to go. With four minutes of the match left a Vassell free-kick found the head of Ihiekwe who headed across goal to Ladapo who nodded home to make it three-two sending the travelling nine hundred and eighty-three Millers fans wild. Morris might have made it four as the board went up for an extra five minutes after some good work from Vassell before Jones did well to block a Reeves shot which went for a corner which Morris cleared followed minutes later by Olosunde hooking away to safety. Tempers flared as the game came to a close and Cargill saw red after an incident involving him and the Millers bench (of who one was shown a yellow card).
It was all cheers and claps and shouts from the Millers fans when the final whistle went – another three points on the road seeing them up to fourth place in League One. And you can’t sniff at three away points – but I also can’t forget how I felt at half-time after a really awful forty-five minutes with tactics that nobody seemed to understand.
Up The Millers and onto Tuesday night at Portsmouth.
Referee – Ross Joyce
Attendance – 7,811 (983 Millers)