Frustrating afternoon for Millers....
The Millers were left scratching their heads over having to settle for a share of the spoils against Milton Keynes Dons, despite dominating large spells of a one-sided encounter.
It was a mixed afternoon for top scorer Freddie Ladapo, who notched his 17th goal of the season to put Rotherham ahead, before squandering a gilt-edged second half chance to give the Millers victory after Rhys Healey’s equaliser, for the visitors.
Following their hard-fought draw with Coventry City in midweek, Millers chief Paul Warne was forced into one change from the trip to England’s second city.
Scottish midfielder Jamie Lindsay was handed his first start in the Millers engine room since early December as Newcastle loanee Dan Barlaser was ruled out because of an ankle injury sustained at St Andrew’s.
January summer signing Curtis Tilt was named in the Millers squad for the first time following his switch from Blackpool while there was no Rotherham return, in MK Dons colours, for former loanee Carlton Morris, who was red-carded in their recent defeat to Portsmouth.
Following a low-key start to the game, Rotherham broke the deadlock with the first real attack of note on ten minutes.
The Millers managed to turn over possession when Richard Wood struck out a timely foot to break up an MK Dons attack and Lindsay pounced on the loose ball to thread a slide-rule pass which bisected the visiting defence and Ladapo was the grateful recipient as he evaded the attentions of Joe Walsh with a darting run before striking a low effort which caught Lee Nicholls out at his near post, as the ball nestled in the bottom corner of the net.
The home side were lifted by the breakthrough and Ben Wiles’ neat lay-off presented Lindsay with the chance to stride forward before trying his luck with a left-footed effort from the edge of the box which brought a fine save by Nicholls before Wiles headed over from Ladapo’s centre, in the home side’s next attack.
However, MK Dons silenced the home faithful by levelling matters on 22 minutes when Joe Walsh’s long punt upfield was initially misjudged by Matt Olosunde and Healey got on the wrong side of the American full-back to race in the box, before showing fleet of foot, to twist and turn into a shooting position at the expense of Olosunde and Michael Ihiekwe, and unleash a left-footed effort which gave Daniel Iversen no chance in the home goal.
The Millers responded positively to the setback and Ladapo had a low effort deflected behind before Michael Smith came within a whisker of restoring their advantage when he met Wiles’ corner, but his point-blank header dribbled narrowly wide of the upright.
Minutes later, Chiedozie Ogbene nicked the pocket of Jordan Moore-Taylor, who had no option but to fell the flying winger, on the edge of the box, which earned him a caution before Crooks was inches away from heading into an unguarded net after Ladapo’s flick-on, from Wiles’ corner, narrowly evaded his reach.
Just past the half-hour mark, Wood could not control his header from Joe Mattock’s set piece before the MK Dons were indebted to Nicholls for preserving parity at the break when Ogbene jinked past George Williams before hanging up a cross which looked inch-perfect for Smith to head home from close range but the visiting stopper pulled off a top drawer save to deny him a certain goal.
Half-time- Rotherham United 1 Milton Keynes Dons 1
The Millers were quick out of the blocks at the start of the second half and Wiles floated a delightful centre which was headed away at the far post before Ogbene showed Moore-Taylor a clean pair of heels, but his low cross was smartly smothered by Nicholls.
The Millers were looking the most likely but they missed a gilt-edged chance to regain the lead when Matt Crooks spread the play to the right flank and Ogbene put on the jet-burners to race past Williams and with Nicholls committed at the front post, the home winger kept his nerve to pick out Ladapo, who looked a certain scorer, but the ex-Plymouth striker turned from hero to villain, when his close range shot clipped the outside of the post, when it looked easier to score.
The Millers were becoming increasingly frustrated when Ogbene’s low cross seemed to strike the arm of an MK Dons defender in the box, but the referee waved away strong home appeals for spot-kick before Smith headed over, in his last contribution, with the goal at his mercy – with Ogbene, again, the architect with a pin-point cross.
With the game on a knife-edge, Wiles came within a coat of paint of scoring the decisive winner when he curled a delightful effort from distance which shaved the outside of the post before Ihiekwe headed over from Crooks’ centre, minutes later.
Sub Ben Gladwin almost gave MK Dons a smash and grab with a deflected effort which forced Iversen to tip over before the Millers had the Danish ‘keeper to thank for earning them a point in the end when he denied Alex Gilbey, who had broke clear.
Full-time- Rotherham United 1 MK Dons 1
Rotherham United 1
Milton Keynes Dons 1
Teams:- Rotherham- Iversen, Mattock, Wood, Wiles, Ladapo, Lindsay (Koroma 73), Crooks, Ogbene, Ihiekwe, Olosunde (MacDonald 90), Smith (Vassell 73). Unused- Price, A Thompson, Adelakun, Tilt.
MK Dons- Nicholls, Williams, Walsh, Poole, Gilbey, Healey, Moore-Taylor, L Thompson (Kasumu 67), Houghton, Brittain (Gladwin 77), Nombe (Mason 81). Unused- Fisher, Cargill, Reeves, McGrandles.
Referee- L Doughty
Attendance- 8883 (353)