Rotherham United’s Sky Bet Championship survival hopes took a severe blow as fellow battlers, Wycombe Wanderers, maintained their slim chances of beating the drop, themselves, following a comfortable victory at a sun-kissed AESSEAL New York Stadium.
In the proverbial six-pointer, Paul Warne’s side made a nightmare start as Admiral Muskwe put the Chairboys ahead with just two minutes on the clock before Jason McCarthy doubled their lead on 24 minutes with a deflected effort.
The Millers, who missed a host of first-half chances, were poor after the break and sub David Wheeler rubbed salt into home wounds with a well-taken third, near the end.
Owing to the absence of club captain Richard Wood, who was dismissed in the last outing at Millwall, Warne had to contend with an enforced change of personnel and playing system.
In a 4-4-2 formation, Ben Wiles was asked to ply his trade in the left-back slot while Michael Ihiekwe took on the skipper’s armband. In midfield, Jamie Lindsay was handed a starting recall following an impressive substitute cameo in South London, three days ago.
In an eventful opening, the Millers had an early sighter when Lewis Wing was felled and Dan Barlaser clipped a delicate centre which saw Angus MacDonald rise highest, but his downward header failed to trouble the target.
From the resultant goal kick, David Stockdale launched a long punt upfield and the ball skimmed off the head of Barlaser, who was attempting to clear, and Muskwe found himself on the wrong side of the Rotherham rearguard, who were caught napping temporarily, and the Wycombe player showed Wiles a clean pair of heels, before keeping his nerve to calmly stroke a low effort past the attentions of Viktor Johansson to find the heart of the home goal.
Both sides traded efforts when firstly Matt Crooks headed wide from Wing’s cross before Muskwe blasted over from a promising position, at the other end.
Minutes later, Anis Mehmeti fired into the side netting following good work by Muskwe in the build-up before Iheikwe came within a whisker of repeating his Adams Park heroics, on the opening day of the season, when he rose majestically to meet Wes Harding’s cross, but his powerful header, from just six-yards out, grazed the outside of the upright.
The Millers were turning up the tempo, and they had back-to-back chances, when Wing showed fleet of foot to work an opening, and Michael Smith worked a yard of space on his marker, before playing an inviting centre which took Stockdale out of the game and Ladapo looked set to turn the ball home into the unguarded net, but Jack Grimmer agonisingly took it off his toe, with a last-ditch clearance.
From the resultant corner, Barlaser planted a deep corner which Stockdale failed to intercept, but it narrowly evaded the attentions of Angus MacDonald, at the far post.
Despite the Millers’ promptings, Wycombe took a firm grip on the game, by doubling their advantage on 24 minutes.
There looked little danger for the home side until Uche Ikpeazu ghosted across the Millers box, before clipping a cross, which fell kindly for the advancing run of McCarthy, who tried his luck with a first-time effort from the edge of the box, and his low shot took a wicked deflection of the outstretched foot of Wiles, and it was enough to wrong foot, Johansson, who was committed to his dive, and the Swedish stopper was helpless, as the ball rolled agonisingly into the goal.
Following the double setback, the Millers gradually regained their composure to threaten the Wycombe net, on a number of occasions.
Lindsay fired a half-volley over before Crooks side footed wide, from the edge of the box. Smith then headed straight into the grateful hands of Stockdale, before the former Rotherham loanee was forced into a double save to deny Wiles initially, and Lindsay, on the follow-up.
The Millers really needed a goal, before half-time, but it was not to be, as Ladapo made a driving run before drilling a low effort into the side netting before Wing’s shot from distance stung the palms of Stockdale, who was somewhat fortunate to keep the ball out.
Half-time- Rotherham United 0 Wycombe Wanderers 2
In an effort to spark the Millers to life, Warne made a double attacking substitution, at the break. Chiedozie Ogbene, on his playing return following his injury nightmare, and Florian Jozefzoon were introduced, at the expense of Barlaser and Wiles.
The move failed to pay dividends as Wycombe, by hook or by crook, were doing their utmost to prevent the Millers building up a head of steam, in a scrappy start to the second 45.
There was an exchange of yellow cards as Crooks was cautioned for a foul on sub Wheeler before Curtis Thompson soon joined him in the book, for hauling down Smith.
Jozefzoon was wasteful from a couple of inviting crossing positions, before Fred Onyedinma blasted into the empty stand behind the goal.
On the hour mark, Dennis Adeniran tried his luck from distance but Johansson got his body behind his shot before Wing had a half chance, when he got Smith’s ball under his spell, before firing a low effort which had Stockdale scrambling across goal, as it fizzed narrowly wide.
Minutes later, Ikpeazu was the next to see yellow for a clumsy foul on MacDonald, and the Millers centre-half was the beneficiary of some pinball around the Wycombe box, but he failed to make a clean connection, with a shot, and despite a slight deflection en-route to goal, Stockdale was well-positioned to snuff out the danger.
The Millers, who are never found wanting for hard work and endeavour, were lacking that element of fortune, in the final third, but, to their credit, Gareth Ainsworth’s side were proving a tough nut to crack, as they were clearly determined to hold onto their well-earned first-half advantage.
With the clock ticking down on Rotherham’s chances, home frustration grew and their mood was not helped when Wycombe added a third goal, near the end.
Full-time: Rotherham United 0 Wycombe Wanderers 3
Teams: Rotherham- Johansson, Harding, Ihiekwe, A MacDonald, Wiles (Jozefzoon 46), Barlaser (Ogbene 46), Lindsay (Giles 76), Wing, Crooks, Ladapo (Hirst 76), Smith. Unused- Blackman, Clarke, Olosunde, S MacDonald, Sadlier.
Wycombe- Stockdale, Grimmer, Jacobson (Stewart 44), Ikpeazu (Akinfenwa 77), Knight, Muskwe (McCleary 87), Thompson (Horgan 87), Onyedinma, Adeniran, McCarthy, Mehmeti (Wheeler 46). Unused- Allsop, Kashket, Phillips, Samuel.
Referee- J Linington