ALEX Revell grabbed his fifth goal of the season as Rotherham United clinched a 1-0 victory over AFC Wimbledon to bolster their League Two automatic promotion aspirations, writes Dom Howson.
The big striker powered home a header with 14 minutes left after Kari Arnason flicked on substitute Lionel Ainsworth’s corner at the near post.
It was only Revell’s second goal in 2013 and maintained their 100 per cent record in four meetings with Wimbledon.
Rotherham boss Steve Evans handed Scott Shearer his first start since October in between the sticks. He also made an alteration to his back four, giving Joe Skarz a full debut, having signed the left-back on an emergency loan deal until the end of the season from Bury yesterday.
Arnason returned to midfield after serving a two-match ban while Daniel Kearns, on loan from Peterborough United, was also given a run-out. Andy Warrington, Liam Ridehalgh, Michael O’Connor and Ben Pringle all dropped to the bench.
The hosts almost made a dream start after two minutes when Lee Frecklington latched on to Arnason’s clever cut back but he fired wide when well-placed.
Johnny Mullins spurned a glorious opportunity to put Rotherham ahead seven minutes later as he lashed over at the back post after a dangerous corner from David Noble.
With the recalled Kearns featuring prominently on the left flank and Alex Revell working tirelessly up front, the Millers dominated the early skirmishes. Another good move involving Daniel Nardiello, Arnason and Skarz led to Revell glancing a header over the bar.
Like so many sides who have come to the New York Stadium this season, Wimbledon were quite happy to sit deep and frustrate Rotherham.
It took a fine stop from John Sullivan midway through the half to keep out Claude Davis’ volley after Jonathan Meades only half cleared Noble’s dead ball as Evans men continued to pile on the pressure.
Nardiello fed Frecklington, who burst into the penalty area, cut inside on his left foot and unleashed a fierce drive which Sullivan brilliantly palmed behind.
Just before the interval, the visitors created their first meaningful chance of the afternoon, with Alan Bennett nodding skipper Mat Mitchel-King’s inviting delivery from the byline narrowly over.
Kearns robbed Meades deep into Dons territory five minutes after the re-start and he raced forward at pace and with purpose before dragging his effort off target.
A long range strike from Harry Pell in the 56th minute forced Shearer into a smart stop after a neat dummy from Luke Moore.
Rotherham quickly regained the upperhand, though, and Mullins inexplicably headed over Kearns centre from two yards out to the astonishment of the home faithful.
That let off sparked Wimbledon into action, with Mitchel-King just failing to connect with Moore’s inswinging free kick.
Jack Midson, Wimbledon’s top-scorer, then released Moore, who looked certain to score but Shearer spread himself well to deny the winger.
Rotherham made them pay for that miss with quarter of an hour remaining through Revell.
Kieran Agard, brought on for the industrious Kearns, could have wrapped up the three points late on but he sliced wide when he should have done better.
As the match became more stretched in added on time, Midson flashed a header off target while Sullivan thwarted Agard following a rapid counter attack involving Ainsworth.
Rotherham United: Shearer; Mullins, Davis, Morgan, Skarz; Frecklington, Noble, Arnason, Kearns; Nardiello, Revell. Substitutes: Warrington, Ainsworth, O’Connor, Pringle, Odejayi, Agard, Ridehalgh.
Wimbledon: Sullivan; Mitchel-King, Balkestein, Hussey; Meades, Pell, Moore, Yussuff; Alexander, Midson. Substitutes: Cummings, Jaimez-Ruiz, Darko, Long, Saint-Luce, Antwi, Youga.
Referee: Mark Heywood (Cheshire)
Attendance: 7,594 (480)