Boss Warne reacts as late lapses cost Millers: AFC Wimbledon 3 Rotherham United 1
The three-and-a-half-year wait goes on.
Nineteen Tuesday-night away matches have now been and gone since Rotherham United last enjoyed a midweek triumph on the road.
The 2-0 win at Oldham Athletic on March 11 2014 seems a long time ago.
Paul Warne’s men looked to have done the hard part at AFC Wimbledon, fighting back from a dodgy start to level the scores in the second half with a stunning Joe Newell volley.
But bad defending allowed the home side to grab two late goals and give the visitors a reality check.
They remain fourth in the League One table, but grinding out results on murky nights in unglamorous settings miles from home are part of what top-six finishes are based on.
On this occasion, Millers came up short.
“We didn’t start very well and then we let them score, which I wasn’t happy about,” Warne said. “I thought in the second half the lads responded and I thought it would be a matter of time before we scored.
“We can’t control everything the lads do on the pitch. I am not saying we lost our shape, but I thought our game-management was poor.”
Kingsmeadow, a tight, compact little arena, just off a busy residential street and due for demolition in a year or so, fitted the unglamorous bill. “We’re a League One side playing in a non-league ground,” said a club official.
Rotherham’s early football matched the setting and they fell behind in the 15th minute when Anthony Forde was dispossessed, Andy Barcham played a defence-splitting pass and Lyle Taylor took advantage of Richard O’Donnell being slow to come out by clipping the ball over the Millers goalkeeper.
Not even 10-goal Kieffer Moore - being watched by Mick McCarthy, boss of parent club Ipswich Town - could do anything to alter proceedings.
Newell came on after the break and changed the game, his 71st-minute volley from the edge of the area flashing into the net and putting the Millers in the ascendancy. They looked the only team likely to go on and win the match.
But Richard Wood and Joe Mattock collided with each other to set Taylor free for a quality 84th-minute second and Wood then missed his kick to allow the Dons striker in for his hat-trick in time added on.
“The second goal was against the run of play and then there was the calamity at the end,” Warne added.
“Tonight, we weren’t good enough to stop them. The third goal was disappointing. I have just had a hissy fit about the second, and the first goal wasn’t great either.
“I thought we looked good for periods of the game but not for long enough.”
Warne had joked earlier in the week that his No 2, Richie Barker, is unpopular wherever he goes: booed on his return to former club Portsmouth last month, disliked at AFC Wimbledon because of his past association with hated rivals MK Dons.
“It’s like being with the Grim Reaper,” the manager said.
If Rotherham persist in giving away goals in this fashion, a visit from the Millers, unlike the Reaper, won’t be something to be feared.
Goals: Taylor 15, 84, 90+1 (Wimbledon); Newell 71 (Rotherham).
Wimbledon (4-1-4-1): Long; Fuller, Nightingale, Charles, Francomb; Trotter; Kaja (Abdou 77), Soares, Forrester (Robinson 88), Barcham; Taylor. Subs not used: McDonnell, Oshilaja, McDonald, Kennedy, Hartigan.
Rotherham (4-4-1-1): O’Donnell; Cummings (Yates 88), Ihiekwe, Wood, Mattock (Ajayi 88); Williams (Newell 58), Vaulks, Towell, Forde; Ball; Moore. Subs not used: Rodak, Emmanuel, Clarke-Harris, Wiles.
Referee: Dean Whitestone (Northamptonshire).
Attendance: 3,907 (317).