Rotherham United: Semi Ajayi’s nightmare quick return to New York Stadium for West Bromwich Albion

If Semi Ajayi was hoping for a Rotherham homecoming to cherish then he will have been sorely disappointed.

Tuesday, 23rd July 2019, 9:45 pm
Updated Tuesday, 23rd July 2019, 11:52 pm
Semi Ajayi gave away a penalty just two minutes into the match for West Brom against Rotherham United

The 25-year-old was back at the AESSEAL New York Stadium just three days after leaving the Millers to join West Brom as Slaven Bilic's men visited for a friendly on Tuesday night.

It was the chance for him to say goodbye to the fans that chanted his name for two-and-a-half years and the staff that helped turn him into a million-pound international player.

Ajayi would surely have also been desperate to show everyone what they were going to be missing as well as teasing to his new club what he was going to offer.

But it did not go to plan for him as after only 78 seconds he gave away a penalty which Freddie Ladapo masterfully dispatched to help Rotherham to a 1-1 draw, with Dara O'Shea rescuing Ajayi with a powerful second-half header.

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The Nigerian departed after an hour to warm applause and happy memories of his time at New York, even if his return did not go to plan.

Although it was only a friendly, the Millers did not look a poorer side without Ajayi and boss Paul Warne will take real encouragement about his side's attacking potential with 10 days to go until the big League One kick-off at AFC Wimbledon.

Less than two minutes after the home fans gave Ajayi a rousing reception, he had his head in his hands as he tripped Ladapo in the area and Rotherham's record buy hammered the spot-kick high and handsome into the roof of the net.

The Millers' front three of Ladapo, Jamie Proctor and Kyle Vassell, who looks set to leave the club, caused constant problems, with Baggies goalkeeper Jonathan Bond tested on several occasions in an impressive first-half showing.

At the other end Daniel Iversen was making his debut in the home goal following his loan move from Leicester and other than a low save from a Chris Brunt, the Dane did not get much chance to show off his skills.

The Millers, who replaced Vassell at half-time, lacked the intensity after the restart and the Baggies finally showed signs of life after a raft of substitutions on the hour.

They drew level in the 63rd minute when O'Shea headed home Filip Krovinovic's corner.

It was the hosts, who handed trialist Brad Dockerty a run out, that looked most likely to find a winner, but unfortunately for them Ajayi was no longer on the pitch to assist.