Rotherham United 1 AFC Wimbledon 0: Match Report

Rotherham United FC v AFC Wimbledon - Npower League 2 - 17th December 2011 - Johnny Mullins goes close to adding to his goals from last week as he beats Jamie Stuart in the air
Rotherham United FC v AFC Wimbledon - Npower League 2 - 17th December 2011 - Johnny Mullins goes close to adding to his goals from last week as he beats Jamie Stuart in the air
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AS THE temperature plummeted in the second half, the trackside water began to ice over and a chilling wind cut through to the bone, one could imagine the Beeb filming Frozen Planet at dear old DVS.

However, unlike those polar bears, they couldn’t have kidded anybody that the footage from here was top notch - even for League Two!

They wouldn’t have pulled the wool - polar bears or anyone else’s - over anybody’s eyes with this. The Millers have been involved in some pretty decent matches one way or another thus far. This wasn’t one of them.

Still, if you’re involved in a poor game against limited opposition, then hope to eke out a win to send the fans off for Christmas with a feeling of some joy and satisfaction.

That’s what happened. They edged it 1-0 in the sort of drab, mistake-riddled game we used to see more often at this level a few years ago.

The important thing is that you do win it. Rotherham, aiming to climb back up towards the top, really did need this one not least because limited opposition, with one win in 11, were eminently beatable.

Not a pushover. Theirs is one of the great footballing stories of modern times and, striving to stay in the league, they are clearly making the sum greater than the individual parts.

They worked hard, were honest triers and scufflers and, it has to be said, edged it in terms of determination and desire when it came to the nitty-gritty in their defensive third of the field.

But, in that first 20 minutes, when the Millers had more space than they really knew what to do with, there would have been lots of Millers fans thinking to themselves in that time based on what they’d seen: “We should beat these.”

But the longer the game went, the less likely that seemed. Wimbledon’s confidence grew as the first half kicked on and their defensive organisation and numbers continued to stifle the Millers - and did so quite comfortably.

Any fair-minded, overall assessment had to judge that the Londoners ended up having more of the very few chances that cropped up.

They wasted three great chances - one after 25 seconds - and had two near misses, one of which was a goalline clearance.

Rotherham forced two major saves (both from Danny Harrison), including a top drawer one, spurned a scoreable opportunity in the first half, created little in the second apart from one spell of goalmouth ping-pong when there was nearly an own goal and were grateful for a moment of inspiration (and weren’t we all?) with 12 minutes to go.

By then, the slowly freezing faithful were debating whether to continue huddling up against the increasingly cold wind blowing their way or to stick it out in the hope they’d be rewarded with a winner.

They were rewarded and it went to loan player Sam Wood, a game little-so-and-so whose tenacity and graft on the left hasn’t been found wanting when it comes to example-setting.

But, that apart, he’d had no more a successful game than anyone else but he had the spot of success that counts.

Johnny Mullins sent a ball out to the left flank that Lewis Grabban chased and for a moment, the visiting defence was a bit undermanned and stretched. His ball inside for Wood saw the winger take a touch and then get away a low, left foot drive from the edge of the area to send the ball scudding in off the far post.

He admitted he didn’t exactly know where the goal was when he pulled the trigger and then thought it was going wide. At least he got the important bit right!

Similar accuracy in the game’s first move would have seen Luke Moore put Wimbledon in front instead of firing horribly over.

Harrison’s 22-yarder had Seb Brown going full length and the ‘keeper did even better with a fine save to deny Harrison’s well-timed run and leap. From the ensuing corner, Johnny Mullins headed narrowly wide.

Brett Williams might have shown more composure from 15 yards whilst Rotherham’s other let-off saw Lee Minshull head just wide following a centre from the troublesome right flank man Ryan Jackson.

It was Minshull whose header near the hour following a corner was cleared off the line by Danny Schofield, the most meaningful contribution for the skilful midfielder who simply couldn’t get into the game and exert his usual influence.

Jack Midson headed a great chance over and was behind the biggest let-off, sending a header back past Logan who could only hold his breath along with everyone else as the ball bounced a whisker wide.

Could Rotherham cash in? They could and one could only feel glad for the fans that they had finally had got something to that offered a modicum of warmth!

But, unlike the millions watching that remarkable series, they weren’t kidded. They know their favourites are, and need to be, better than this.