BY DANIEL MARSH
AFC Wimbledon were denied by a late strike at Kingsmeadow as Rotherham sealed an opening day victory at the hosts’ expense.
Joe Pigott’s second-half header had cancelled out an opener from Millers new-boy Freddie Ladapo before Clark Robertson struck with a late winner.
There was a full debut for young goalkeeper Nik Tzanev, alongside full league debuts for Luke O’Neill, Nesta Guinness-Walker and Callum Reilly.
The Dons had to be resilient in a tough first half where the visitors showed why they are a team much-fancied for promotion.
Were it not for the cat-like reflexes of Tzanev, the hosts would have found themselves behind inside 10 minutes. Rotherham’s record signing Ladapo met a superb cross with a firm header from point-blank range which Tzanev somehow kept out.
But the Millers made their superiority count, as they deservedly took the lead on the half-hour mark. A corner was swung over deep to the far-post, Michael Smith nodding back across goal for former Crystal Palace forward Ladapo to finish, prodding in from close-range.
Wimbledon finished the opening period stronger and continued after the break, as they drew level in the opening five minutes.
A corner from the left-hand side was swung in by Anthony Hartigan and Pigott powered home a header from six yards to restore parity for Wally Downes’ men.
The hosts were a different proposition after the break and went closing to completing a turnaround after a tandem of Hartigan efforts were thwarted by last-ditch Rotherham defending.
Rotherham had their chances to retake the lead but were denied by another unbelievable block from close-range, this time Paul Kalambayi with a stunning goal-line block to deny Ladapo from point-blank range.
The Dons continued to look a threat with a good second-half display but with the game closing out, it was the Millers who snatched all three points as a corner from the right evaded a flurry of bodies for Clark Robertson to sweep home late on and condemn the Dons to an opening day League One defeat.
PHOTOS BY PAUL EDWARDS