Millers suffer defeat at Kingsmeadow...
Rotherham United suffered defeat on the road as Lyle Taylor's hat-trick condemned them to a 3-1 defeat at the hands of AFC Wimbledon.
The impressive Taylor had the hosts ahead in the first half before a sweet Joe Newell strike restored parity in South London, but the former Sheffield United striker added a further brace to his tally to ensure him of the match ball and his side of maximum points.
Manager Paul Warne named an unchanged starting 11 from the side that beat Scunthorpe United 2-0 at AESSEAL New York Stadium last Saturday.
He made one change to his bench for the trip to the capital with Academy graduate Ben Wiles named as a substitute for the first time in the league at the expense of Alex Bray.
The Millers came into the game off the back of three clean sheets coupled with as many victories having overcome Scunthorpe, NorthamptonTown and Rochdale in Sky Bet League One.
But it was the home side that had the better of the opening exchanges as they game descended into an early midfield scrap. On seven minutes the lively Barcham crossed into the near post but couldn’t find Taylor allowing Joe Mattock to scramble clear.
The same players combined on 15 minutes for the opening goal of the game. Barcham showed his class by splitting the Millers defence with a perfectly weighted pass, and Taylor beat the advancing Richard O’Donnell to lift the ball into the bottom corner.
The hosts continued to look the more likely to score, and the Millers had Kieffer Moore to thank when he came the his defence’s rescue by heading off the line.
The Millers slowly grew into the half, and Moore had their first chance, heading over from an Anthony Forde centre.
Soon after David Ball was unfortunate when he expertly controlled a Forde cross but his shot on the turn took a deflection on its way wide. From the resulting corner a scramble in the area presented a half chance for Moore, but his shot from a tight angle was blocked.
The Millers almost carved out a chance when Forde and Moore broke quickly from a Wimbledon corner, but the latter couldn’t control after Forde tried to pick him out on the run.
Just before the break Ryan Williams showed a terrific piece of skill to control and inventiveness to beat George Francomb, but when well placed to cross he fired a shot high and wide.
The Millers looked much brighter after the interval and tested George Long on 53 minutes when Forde showed some lovely skill on the right wing before drilling a shot across the face of goal. Long parried to his left, and the ball somehow evaded three onrushing Millers players. Forde again tested Long a minute later, but his shot from 20 yards lacked power and was smothered comfortably.
Harry Forrester almost produced a moment of magic on 63 minutes as he dropped his shoulder and tried to dink the ball over the head of O’Donnell from 20 yards. Fortunately for the visitors, O’Donnell was equal to it and tipped onto the bar to prevent the Dons from doubling their lead.
The Millers came again and more good work from Forde produced a half chance for Moore on 66 minutes, but Long was off his line quickly enough to smother.
The Millers levelled on 71 minutes when substitute Joe Newell smashed home on the volley from 20 yards after the Dons failed to clear a high ball into the penalty area.
The momentum was firmly with the Millers now and Forde’s corner from the left was almost met by Joe Mattock, but the home side managed to scramble away at the expense of a throw-in.
Wimbledon had a golden opportunity to re-take the lead on 81 minutes. As the Millers pressed for a winner, the Dons broke at pace and Taylor’s cross was volleyed high over the bar by Barcham when well-placed to do better.
They did re-take the lead on 85 minutes and it was Taylor with his second. After a mix-up between Mattock and Richard Wood, Taylor raced clear down the right before cutting back and smashing a left-footed strike into the roof of O’Donnell’s net.
The Millers almost responded immediately and again it was substitute Newell with a powerful left-footed volley, but this time Long was able to get a strong hand to it. Newell was unable to convert a difficult chance on the rebound.
Taylor completed his hat trick in stoppage time as the Millers pushed forward in search of an equaliser. Set free on goal by a slip up in defence, O’Donnell did well to save his first effort, but Taylor converted at the second attempt to put the result beyond doubt.
Millers | O’Donnell; Cummings, Ihiekwe, Wood, Mattock; Williams, Vaulks, Towell, Forde; Ball, Moore.
Unused | Rodak, Emmanuel, Ajayi, Clarke-Harris, Yates, Newell, Wiles.
AFC Wimbledon | Long; Fuller, Nightingale, Charles, Francomb; Trotter, Soares; Kaja, Forrester, Barcham; Taylor.
Unused | McDonell, Oshilaja, Robinson, Abdou, McDonald, Kennedy, Hartigan.
Referee | D. Whitestone