REPORT: MK Dons 3-2 Rotherham: Muirhead's double hands Micciche his first win
Robbie Muirhead bagged a brace as MK Dons picked up their first league win since December 30, beating Rotherham 3-2 at Stadium MK for Dan Micciche's first win as manager.
It could have been a completely different story though - Semi Ajayi tapped the Millers ahead after just nine minutes and when Chuks Aneke headed over when free in the six yard box it looked like another one of those nights.
But Muirhead netted the first of his double nine minutes before half time, and Peter Pawlett tapped them ahead four minutes before the break. Muirhead then made it 3-1 13 minutes into the second half to put Dons firmly in control.
Lee Nicholls made a remarkable save to deny Ajayi again, but when substitute Jon Taylor pulled one back for Rotherham with 15 minutes to go, it threatened to be a testy time for Dons to hold on.
But hold on they did to secure Micciche's first win in charge of MK Dons, closing the gap to safety to four points.
Osman Sow and Peter Pawlett returned to the side after lengthy spells on the sidelines, but Stoke loanee Josh Tymon was missing after picking up an injury last week in training. In a bid to seek out his first win, Dan Micciche started the game with three up front - Sow, Aneke and Pawlett leading the line.
Micciche warned Rotherham score 40 per cent of their goals from set pieces, but Dons fell victims to a relatively straight forward one when Anthony Forde's deep cross was headed back across goal by Caolan Lavery, leaving Semi Ajayi with a simple finish from close range after just 11 minutes.
Dons' response was positive though, but didn't bear much fruit. Sow struck a wonderful effort just wide of the mark which had keeper Marek Rodak at full stretch, while Aneke headed over and Callum Brittain had a decent looking effort deflected out.
On the whole though, Rotherham looked comfortable and such was Dons' precarious position in the league, their defence looked shaky every time the Millers poured forwards. Fortunately for the home side though, their attacks were few as Dons desperately sought out the equaliser.
And it should have come on the half hour, but for a miss Aneke will not want to see very often again. Played in behind by Lewington, Robbie Muirhead picked out Aneke completely unmarked in the centre but somehow he headed over the top when he had the whole goal to aim for.
He wouldn't have long to ponder on it though as he played a key role in getting Dons level nine minutes before the interval. Bundling Forde off the ball on halfway, Aneke sparked a break which once again saw Muirhead burst in behind, but this time the Scot lashed the ball past Rodak.
And from there, they went on to take the lead, with Aneke once again at the heart of it. Holding off two or three Rotherham defenders, Aneke was able to turn in the box and get a shot away but while it appeared to be heading wide, Peter Pawlett was on hand to tap it into the net at the far post to give Dons the lead at the break.
Muirhead only opened his account for the season two weeks ago at Fleetwood, but he tripled his tally for the season just 13 minutes into the second half, in almost a carbon copy of his finish in the first half, driving the ball past Rodak's fruitless dive to put Dons into a well-deserved 3-1 lead.
Having only just come back into the side after injury Osman Sow and Peter Pawlett were both withdrawn in the second period, but their replacements Ike Ugboi and Brandon Thomas-Asante made the desired impact as they dragged the Rotherham defenders about, using their pace to remain a constant threat as Rotherham tried to put the pressure on.
And that pressure almost told with 20 minutes to go when Ajayi again saw sight of goal, but somehow saw his header tipped onto the bar by Dons keeper Lee Nicholls in a quite remarkable stop to maintain Dons two goal advantage.
But there was little he could have done when substitute Jon Taylor fired past him with 15 minutes to go to set up a tense finale.
Taylor was at the heart of everything Rotherham had to throw at them. Thomas-Asante was a thorn in Rotherham's side throughout, while Aneke nearly had a goal to show for his efforts when he broke clear in the final minute but dragged his effort wide.
Not many accounted for the six minutes added on at the end, but Dons were able to see it out to pick up their first win under Micciche, closing the gap to safety to four points with a vital clash with Bury at home on Saturday.
Referee: Michael Salisbury
MK Dons: Nicholls, Williams, Lewington, Ward, Wootton, Brittain (Cisse 73), Upson, Pawlett (Thomas-Asante 59), Muirhead, Sow (Ugbo 46), Aneke
Subs not used: Sietsma, Agard, McGrandles, Nesbitt
Rotherham: Rodak, Mattock, Vaulks, Ajayi, Wood (Palmer 66), Forde (Yates 59), Towell, Newll, Smith, Cummings, Lavery (Taylor 59)
Subs not used: Price, Ball, Ihiekwe, Yates, Williams