ROTHERHAM United overcame a stubborn AFC Wimbledon to bank their third straight victory and ramp up their League One play-off push.
A second goal in as many games from January signing Michael Smith and a late strike from David Ball ensured a deserved win and again marked out the Millers as genuine promotion contenders.
The three points take Paul Warne’s men up to fifth in the table and took their unbeaten run to ten games.Seven of those have been victories.
They took the early initiative and Wimbledon survived a goalmouth scramble before they went behind on 14 minutes.
Joe Newell threaded a delightful, defence-splitting ball through to Smith and the striker showed composure to clip in. That strike stretched the Millers’ scoring run to 23 consecutive matches.
Wimbledon came into the game on the run of three wins from four and with one of the meanest defences in the l eague. Their best moment came eight minutes before half time when Liam Trotter, who Rotherham had on trial during the summer, saw his close-range stab shovelled off the line by Josh Emmanuel.
Generally, Rotherham showed all the confidence of a team in a rich seam of form and they nearly doubled their advantage when Ball curled a low effort a yard wide in the last action of the half.
New boy Matt Palmer started in place of the injured Richie Towell and should have marked his debut with a goal soon after the break. The impressive Newell centred and the former Burton man slid wide from no more than a few yards.
This week’s new arrival, Sheffield United loan man Caolan Lavery, was introduced for a nervy last half-hour as Wimbledon committed more bodies forward. They forced a goalmouth scramble but still were relieved to see Newell pass up a good chance and then a linesman’s flag go up when Richard Wood had the ball in the net.
Rotherham needed a second goal to make sure and it finally came in stoppage time. Goalkeeper George Long could only block sub Ryan Williams’ shot and Ball was on hand to head in and send the Millers fans at a freezing AESSEAL New York Stadium home happy yet again.
Millers: Rodak; Emmanuel, Ajayi, Mattock, Wood; Forde (Taylor 67), Vaulks, Palmer, Newell (Williams 84); Ball, Smith (Lavery 67)
AFC Wimbledon: Long; Francomb, Charles, Robinson, Oshilaja; Trotter, Abdou, Soares (Forrester 63); McDonald (Pigott 63), Taylor, Barcham
Referee: Michael Salisbury (Lancs)
Attendance: 8,330 (415 visitors)