MK Dons 2-3 Rotherham: Second half capitulation costs Dons the spoils
Dons blew a 2-0 lead against Rotherham as their nightmare run continued on Saturday, going down 3-2 to Rotherham.
In the best half of football in several months, Alex Gilbey and Joe Mason fired Dons into a 2-0 lead after 13 minutes, and it could have been much more, but for keeper Daniel Iversen keeping his side in it.
A renewed Rotherham emerged at the break, and Freddie Ladapo made a key impact off the bench. In six minutes of madness, Dons let slip their advantage, when Dan Barlaser pulled one back, and Ladapo then equalised. He then missed a penalty which would have seen his side take the lead but nodded home with five minutes to go to win it for the Millers.
After coming off early against Bolton last week, Jordan Moore-Taylor missed out against Rotherham as part of three changes Russell Martin made to the side. Ben Reeves dropped to the bench and George Williams was suspended, with Regan Poole, Jordan Houghton and Baily Cargill coming in.
And it was the latter who played a key role in Dons taking a fourth minute lead. Driving 40 yards forwards, he slid in Alex Gilbey, who looked like he'd taken the ball too wide, but cutting back onto his right foot, somehow managed to squeeze it through the legs of Rotherham keeper Daniel Iversen to put Dons ahead.
Things got even better for the hosts nine minutes later when Joe Mason lashed home his first for the club from 10 yards after great build-up from Callum Brittain on the right-hand side.
Without question, the opening half an hour was the best MK Dons had played in months. While Rotherham were shell-shocked, Dons looked like they could score with every attack, and perhaps should have wrapped the game up by the 20-minute mark, but Mason's near-post effort was well saved by Iversen.
The keeper made another crucial block seven minutes before the break when Brittain got into similar territory to where Gilbey netted, only his block this time prevented Jordan Bowery from a simple tap-in.
The fragility of a 2-0 lead though was highlighted just before the break though when both Matt Crooks and Michael Smith missed Jake Hastie's excellent ball across the face of goal in stoppage time.
Neither Crooks nor Smith emerged for the second period as Paul Warne replaced them at the interval, and one of those changes – Freddie Ladapo – should have pulled one back for Rotherham when the ball fell to his feet about eight yards out, but somehow Lee Nicholls got enough on it to keep it out. He would go on to have an eventful 45 minutes though, and would be key in Rotherham's turnaround.
As good as Dons were in the first half, Rotherham came out fighting in the second period and certainly had the better of the play in the early exchanges, but Regan Poole should have put the game to bed on the hour mark, sending his strike narrowly wide of the post.
Rotherham would get their lifeline with 24 minutes to go when a mix-up between Nicholls and Cargill left Rotherham with a two-on-one against Joe Walsh, and Dan Barlaser was left with a tap-in.
The wheels fell off Dons' wagon four minutes later as the Millers drew level when Ladapo headed home a deep free-kick.
It could have been even worse two minutes later when Ladapo was adjudged to have been fouled in the area, but his spot-kick thumped the crossbar, though Nicholls had guessed the right way.
Incredibly though, Ladapo would bounce back and with five minutes to go, winning it for the Millers in almost a carbon copy of his first to deal yet Dons yet another defeat.
Referee: Ross Joyce
Attendance: 7,811 (983)
MK Dons: Nicholls, Lewington, Walsh, Poole, Cargill, Gilbey, McGrandles (Reeves ), Houghton, Brittain (Boateng 69), Bowery (Dickenson 82), Mason
Subs not used: Moore, Kasumu, Asonganyi, Sorinola
Rotherham United: Iverson, Jones, Wiles, Barlaser, Morris, Robertson, Crooks (Vassell 46), Ihiekwe, Olosunde, Hastie (Clarke 64), Smith (Ladapo 46)
Subs not used: Price, Thompson, Lindsay, Lamy
Booked: Crooks, Gilbey, Ihiekwe