On-the-whistle report: Will Grigg and Michael Smith on fire ... Rotherham United 3 AFC Wimbledon 0

On-the-whistle report: Will Grigg and Michael Smith on fire ... Rotherham United 3 AFC Wimbledon 0

By Paul Davis | 28/09/2021

On-the-whistle report: Will Grigg and Michael Smith on fire ... Rotherham United 3 AFC Wimbledon 0
Scorer Will Grigg. Picture by Kerrie Beddows

WILL Grigg's first League One goal for Rotherham United set the Millers on their way to a victory that consolidated their place in the play-off reckoning.

The loan hot-shot opened the scoring against AFC Wimbledon in the first-half as he combined with Northern Ireland international teammate Shane Ferguson in devastating fashion.

Michael Smith contributed his sixth and seventh goals of the campaign as the home side underlined their promotion credentials in impressive style at AESSEAL New York Stadium.

They remain in fifth spot and have the teams ahead of them in their sights after stretching their unbeaten run to four games.

In a low-key start, neither goalkeeper had a save to make, and proceedings stalled even further on the quarter-hour mark when Richard Wood required lengthy treatment after keeping Aaron Pressley away from goal.

There was a delay of five minutes but the Millers skipper was revived by applause from the home fans and a rendition of his 'Magic' song and he was able to continue despite the blow he'd taken to his head.

Chiedozie Ogbene came close to the game's first goal on 28 minutes, beating his man, coming inside and letting fly with a 20-yard effort that flew just wide.

His effort was one of few highlights in the contest but then two moments of pure quality saw Rotherham take the lead in the 35th minute.

Shane Ferguson's delivery to the back post was perfect and Grigg's header just as good as the ball went back across goal and nestled in the top corner.

Things got even better on the stroke of half-time as Smith rose to head home Dan Barlaser's corner to score his sixth of the campaign and put the Millers in command.

Paul Warne's men were attacking in waves now and Ollie Rathbone could have made it a 3-0 interval lead but didn't make the most of his shooting opportunity, allowing Nik Tzanev to save.

Rotherham had made three changes after conceding a late equaliser against Crewe Alexandra in a 1-1 draw at the weekend.

Michael Ihiekwe came in at centre-half because of Joe Mattock's achilles injury and Jamie Lindsay replaced Ben Wiles in midfield.

Ferguson, on the day he was called up by Northern Ireland for two World Cup qualifiers next month, was preferred to Tolaji Bola on the left flank.

Rotherham dominated the start of the second half, pressing the life out of Wimbledon, but lost Lindsay to injury before an hour had passed.

They were given a sharp reminder that the match was far from over in the 61st minute when Jack Rudoni looked set to reduce the visitors' arrear only to drag his shot wide.

The Millers rode a burst of Wimbledon pressure, who had arrived in eighth place, and came firing back themselves.

Ogbene shot just wide in the 70th minute then fluffed his lines inside the penalty area seconds later before Smith wasted a clear sight of goal by firing inches too high.

Ferguson tested Tzanev with a low stinger, Wiles curled a shot wide and the New York crowd warmed to what they were seeing as the attacks kept on coming.

There was to be no repeat of the weekend's last-gasp disappointment on a very encouraging night for the men in red and white.

This time it was the Millers scoring in the dying seconds as Smith produced a final flourish with a clinical 89th-minute finish.

Rotherham (3-5-2): Vikor Johansson; Rarmani Edmonds-Green, Richard Wood, Michael Ihiekwe; Chiedozie Ogbene, Ollie Rathbone, Dan Barlaser (Hakeem Odoffin 85), Jamie Lindsay (Ben Wiles 58), Shane Ferguson; Will Grigg (Josh Kayode 66), Michael Smith. Subs not used: Josh Vickers, Kieran Sadlier, Tolaji Bola, Freddie Ladapo.

Wimbledon (3-5-1-1): Nik Tzanev; Will Nightingale, Ben Heneghan, Daniel Csoka; Henry Lawrence, Ethan Chislett (Luke McCormick 68), George Marsh (Anthony Hartigan 75), Alex Woodyard, Paul Osew (Dapo Mebude 55); Jack Rudoni; Aaron Pressley. Subs not used: Zaki Oualah, Cheye Alexander, Nesta Guinness-Walker, Darius Charles.

Goals: Grigg 35, Smith 45, 89 (Rotherham).

Referee: Andy Haines (Tyne and Wear).

Attendance: 8.004 (216).

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