Rotherham United 2, Wycombe Wanderers 3.
WANDERERS pulled off a superb against all odds victory at high-flying Rotherham as they climbed off the foot of the table.
Gareth Ainsworth’s side has developed a habit of collecting results on the road while staring adversity in the face, as wins at Portsmouth and Fleetwood would testify.
The odds on Wycombe picking up anything against a side with the best home record in the division – seven wins out of nine prior to tonight – would have been long at kick off and they stretched even further as they fell behind with a matter of seconds on the clock.
But Matt McClure’s second half brace, netting twice in the space of five minutes, and a first half equaliser from Dave Winfield saw Wanderers pick up their first victory since Ainsworth was handed the manager’s reins on a permanent basis and brought a halt to a worrying statistic.
They’ve lost every game this season where their opponents have scored first, and you have to go back to February’s home match with Tranmere to find the last time they came from behind to win.
Things started disastrously as the Millers took the lead inside 16 seconds through Daniel Nardiello, as his weak first effort from Ben Pringle’s cross was fumbled by Jordan Archer straight back to the striker and he couldn’t believe his luck as he tapped home from a matter of feet.
Buoyed by that start Pringle cut his way through the visiting defence barely a minute later, but with options either side of him he greedily elected to shoot and his effort whistled way off target.
Wanderers had to weather heavy early pressure as Leon Johnson came close to scoring an own goal, Winfield made a vital interception as Nardiello looked to finish off another pinpoint Pringle delivery and Archer restored his confidence as he held Mark Bradley’s daisycutter after a superb spell of one touch passing from the Millers.
Back they came as McClure, restored to the starting line-up in place of Dennis Oli, tested Millers keeper Andy Warrington from distance before Blues missed a golden opportunity to level.
A typically battling run from Stuart Lewis parted a retreating Rotherham defence and the midfielder played a superbly talented one-two with McClure, but could only slice his shot horribly wide from six yards with the goal gaping.
Wycombe were coming back into the game after that rocky start, particularly through the trickery of Bruno Andrade, but an off target Winfield header from a corner was all they could muster.
It was Winfield who did draw Wanderers level as he rose highest to thump a header into the back of the net from Josh Scowen’s inch-perfect delivery from a free-kick – which Millers fans felt shouldn’t have been awarded.
Just when Blues fans were gleefully lapping up what seemed to be the break their side had been looking for, Rotherham retook the lead. A corner was played out to Bradley, loitering on the edge of the area, and the full-back slammed a stunning volley through a crowded penalty area and past an unsighted Archer into the back of the net.
The sides traded chances as Warrington just about got enough on Dean Morgan’s inswinging free-kick to stop it finding the bottom corner, and Nardiello headed off target from former Wycombe striker Alex Revell in injury time.
The second half was only four minutes old when Wanderers once again restored parity thanks to a goal of real quality. McClure superbly controlled Danny Foster’s long ball through the middle, turned Millers skipper Ian Sharps inside out before firing home a wonderfully crisp finish for his second of the season.
His second of the game wasn’t much longer in coming as Blues collectively showed far quicker thinking than their opponents. Morgan lofted a free-kick forward before the dozing defenders had woken up, and by the time they’d reacted McClure had latched onto the pass and chipped it coolly over the advancing Warrington and into the bottom corner.
They were two supremely well taken goals despatched with a confidence fans might have been forgiven for thinking was missing from a side on a six match winless run in the league.
An onslaught from the Millers would have been expected but Wanderers gave them nothing at the back and it was the Blues who had the chances to add to their total as Joel Grant fired off target after cutting through the defence.
Wycombe were handed a numerical advantage with quarter of an hour remaining when left-back Josh Morris was stretchered off following a Danny Foster challenge which saw the defender receive a booking when the home fans felt the colour of card produced should have matched their side’s shirts.
Rotherham had made all three substitutions and had to play a man light for the remainder of the game, while Foster himself was unable to continue and had to be replaced by Jesse Kewley-Graham.
Wanderers came close to adding a fourth to settle the nerves when Morgan’s low shot was deflected inches the wrong side of the post and a header from Charles Dunne – again excellent in defence – looped onto the crossbar before being cleared.
Blues had to survive seven minutes of stoppage time before claiming a much deserved – and needed – three points to bring the belief back.
Wanderers: Archer, Foster (sub Kewley-Graham), Winfield, Johnson, Dunne, Grant (sub Wood), Scowen, Lewis, Andrade (sub Ainsworth), McClure, Morgan. Substitutes not used: Harrison, Oli, Morias, Hause.
Attendance: 5,688 (138 from Wycombe)