AFC Wimbledon 1 Rotherham United 2
Pigott (50) Ladapo (29)
Rotherham United got their campaign off to a great start this afternoon with a two-one win away at the Cherry Red Records Stadium.
Both teams had debutantes in the starting eleven with the hosts giving Goalkeeper Nik Tzanev, Luke O’Neill, Nesta Guinness-Walker, and Callum Reilly all first starts and the Millers starting with new boys Daniel Iversen in goal, Matt Olosunde, Shaun MacDonald, Daniel Barlaser and Freddie Ladapo.
It was the Millers who set off well and some good work from Olosunde saw him lay the ball off to Clark Robertson who saw his effort fly over the crossbar from distance followed by some equally good work between captain Joe Mattock and Kyle Vassell who put the ball across goal towards the onrushing Ladapo who sent the ball towards goal with only a superb save from Tzanev getting the ball away from danger. More good play from Vassell down the flank saw him send the ball towards Michael Smith whose header was a bit weak and went wide. A long punt up-field from Iversen found Vassell who did all the hard work and looked like he was setting himself up for a shot but passed instead and the opportunity was lost. Matt Crooks was the next to try his luck only to see Tzanev equal to the shot before Paul Kalambayi hauled down Vassell, who was causing a lot of trouble, with the resulting free-kick, taken by the sinned, not getting over the Wimbledon wall. On twenty-nine minutes the Millers’ efforts were rewarded when a Mattock corner was flicked on by Smith finding Ladapo who swept home from close range to give the visitors the lead. The Millers were on the front foot and had chances with Barlaser showing fleet of foot to his marker on more than one occasion but the finishing wasn’t the best. With five minutes to go the hosts got into the game with a Luke O’Neill free-kick that looked goal-bound before getting a deflection which took it out followed by a Callum Reilly shot that went just wide.
As good as the Millers had been in the first half Wimbledon came out determined to change things for the second forty-five minutes and just five minutes in equalised. After being on the front-foot the hosts got a corner which Anthony Hartigan floated in towards Joe Pigott who had far too much space and time to get up high and head the ball into the net. Michael Folivi got behind the Millers’ defence and sent a lovely ball in for Hartigan who put his shot just wide before Nesta Guinness-Walker skipped around Olosunde and found Hartigan who saw his shot deflected over the crossbar. At the other end Paul Kalambayi did well to hook a shot from Ladapo off the line followed by the first substitution of the afternoon with Paul Warne sending on Ben Wiles for Dan Barlaser. After Smith had flashed a cross across goal the Millers were indebted to Shaun MacDonald who got his body in the way of a Guiness-Walker shot at goal before a good shot from Wiles brought off an equally good save from Tzanev. The second Millers change saw Kyle Vassell make way for Carlton Morris. Rotherham’s last substitution saw scorer Freddie Ladapo go off and Jamie Proctor come on while the hosts brought on Shane McLoughlin on for Anthony Hartigan. On the eighty-fourth minute bit of a sloppy corner from Wiles went through a host of players eventually finding Clark Robertson who just happened to be in the right place at the right time and he hit the ball towards Proctor only to see it go over the line evading McLoughlin and the ‘keeper on the line to give the visitors the lead once again sending the seven hundred and eighty-five travelling fans wild. In the final minutes of the game referee Huxtable got out his first yellow card of the afternoon – though, he could have used it a couple of times before that in all fairness – seeing the Dons’ Reilly booked for what appeared to be dissent.
A great three points for the Millers this afternoon. On their first-half performance I think it was deserved though, if we’d ended up with a draw, with the hosts having the better of the second-half I don’t think we could have complained.
My Man of the Match
I thought Kyle Vassell (who looked very disappointed when subbed in the second half) and Michael Ihiekwe had excellent first-halves. Daniel Iversen did well under pressure and Jamie Proctor caused a few problems in the ten minutes or so he was on but for me the Man of the Match was Clark Robertson – an excellent first half followed by a goal (whether meant or not he was there to get it in).
Who was YOUR Millers Man Of The Match? Vote here on Vital Rotherham.
Referee – B Huxtable
Attendance – 4,657 (785 Millers)