Report: Rotherham United 1-4 Dons
Winger Rob Hall got the scoring underway after just five minutes and although the Millers pulled level soon after through Matt Derbyshire, goals from Jordan Spence and Dean Bowditch had the men from MK1 leading by two at the break. The Dons' dominance continued after the break and they added some gloss to the scoreline through substitute Carl Baker's stunning solo goal on 75 minutes.
Karl Robinson handed a competitive Dons debut to loanee Sam Gallagher, who started on his own up-front ahead of an attacking trio which included another summer signing Hall – the winger returned to stadiummk on loan in July after spending the final months of the 2014/15 season with the Club.
And those two additions linked up to give the Dons the best possible start to the season in the fifth minute. Winger Bowditch did well to create room down the left to a cross and after a touch from Gallagher, Hall forced the ball across the line from close range to give the men from MK1 an early lead in their inaugural Championship match. 0-1.
The Dons were more than good value for their lead, dominating possession in the opening 10 minutes, but with their first shot on target, Rotherham drew level – Matt Derbyshire heading past Martin from Chris Maguire’s corner. 1-1.
That equaliser gave Rotherham a lift and they gradually began to threaten Martin’s goal more and more.
On 21 minutes, Derbyshire beat the offside trap and produced a stunning one-handed stop out of the Dons keeper. The save rebounded off the crossbar and fell to an unmarked Aidy White but somehow he failed to find an unguarded goal from close range.
Derbyshire again went close soon after but Martin, again, was at his very best to prevent the striker from rounding him and slotting in a second goal of the afternoon.
The Dons were also looking good going forward and Reeves had half an opportunity to restore the lead after collecting a pass from Hall, however his low left-footed shot was reasonably comfortable for Kelle Roos in the Millers’ goal.
Robinson’s men did, though, edge back in front on the half hour mark when Spence’s fierce low cross caught out keeper Roos and the ball in squirmed under him before trickling over the line - much to the surprise of everyone inside the New York Stadium. 1-2.
Crosses into the box were proving to be a real problem for the hosts and in the 35th minute, again from out wide, the Dons created a third goal. Reeves, this time, was the man who was afforded time to pick out a pass inside the box, he chose to find Bowditch’s near-post run and the number nine repaid him with a neat finish past Roos. 1-3.
The Dons even went close to adding a fourth goal moments later when Hall threaded an excellent pass through the Millers defence for Gallagher but the man on loan from Southampton dragged his effort wide left.
Despite the heat, the contest was played at a frenetic pace for the majority of the first half and that remained the same for the opening minutes of the second period.
Millers midfielder Joe Newell had a shot deflected into the arms of Martin with the opening chance of the second 45 before Lewington toed a cross from Hall up over the bar and onto the roof of the net.
Robinson then introduced 2014/15 Player of the Year Baker to the game, along with Powell, and within minutes of coming on the Dons’ new number seven produced a stunning solo goal to extend the lead further – after twisting his marker inside the box, Baker lashed a stunning strike into the top right corner, leaving Roos with no chance and the Dons fans in ecstasy. 1-4.
Just in case the Dons though the result was secured, they faced a quick response from the home side, who threatened through Jordan Bowery – Spence, though, was able to hook away the substitutes effort at the far post.
A head injury to Carruthers on 82 minutes and the subsequent lengthy stoppage time took some sting out of the Millers’ attack.
The Dons midfielder was able to carry on with a bandage and he helped the rest of the side see out the contest and secure a well-deserved opening day three points.
STARTING XI: Martin; Spence, McFadzean, Kay, Lewington (c); Potter, Carruthers; Hall (Baker 69), Reeves, Bowditch (Powell 69); Gallagher (Church 76)
UNUSED SUBS: Cropper, Hodson, Walsh, Aguza, Church
GOAL: Hall 5, Spence 28, Bowditch 35, Baker 75
BOOKED: Spence, McFadzean, Reeves