AFC Wimbledon 1 Rotherham United 2: Good omens as Millers kick off with a win
It was 17 years ago that Rotherham United last won away from home on the opening day of the season and they will be hoping that the omens are just as good this time around.
Paul Warne had hair and a flair for winning throw-ins way back at the start of the 2002/03 campaign when he was part of the Millers side that hammered Millwall 6-0 in Bermondsey.
The scoreline was a little less emphatic for Warne's current crop across the other end of the capital on Saturday as they beat AFC Wimbledon 2-1, but it kick-started their League One challenge nicely following their relegation last term.
Back at the start of the century that 6-0 romp was the prologue to the club's best league finish in 19 years and one that has not been bettered since as they ended 15th in the second tier. The Millers will be hoping that come May, they will be celebrating a return to that division.
For times during the first half at the Cherry Red Records Stadium, a hammering of that ilk looked on the cards as the Millers, with an attacking 4-3-3 formation, threatened to pulverise the Dons.
Warne described his charges as “unplayable” but they only had Freddie Ladapo's goal to show for it.
The club's record signing, whose grin after the game was as wide as the open goal he had earlier missed, flicked home from close range after Michael Smith headed a corner back across goal.
Smith and Kyle Vassell were proving just as dangerous but chances went begging and it proved costly after the restart as the Dons hit them hard, Joe Pigott heading home from a corner to level up.
Behind a 6-0 hammering, a late winner must be up there on the list of most enjoyable things and the Millers fans were treated as, after weathering a Wimbledon storm they took the three points in the 84th minute thanks to Clark Robertson's strike at the far post.
It was just reward for the manner of their first-half display, though Warne was not exactly cock-a-hoop about his side's showing after the break.
He said: “I was pretty pleased, I thought in the first half we were pretty unplayable at times in the first half and I thought we should have gone in with a bigger lead.
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“Wimbledon caused us no end of problems at the start of the second half, we didn't start well.
It was disappointing, hugely disappointing, conceding off a set-piece and the wave of impetus went to them.
“I am happy with the win but I think there is more to come.”
AFC Wimbledon: Tzanev, O'Neill, McDonald, Nightingale, Thomas (Appiah 85), Hartigan (McLoughlin 80), Folivi (Connolly 80), Guinness-Walker, Kalambayi, Reilly, Pigott.
Unused subs: McDonnell, Wagstaff, Pinnock, Rudoni
Rotherham: Iversen, Mattock, Ihiekwe, Robertson, Olosunde, MacDonald, Barlaser (Wiles 69), Crooks, Smith, Ladapo (Proctor 84), Vassell (Morris 75).
Unused subs: Price, Wood, Lindsay, Cooper.
Referee: Brett Huxtable
Attendance: 4,657 (785)