Wycombe 0-1 Rotherham: Michael Ihiekwe heads home stoppage time winner to deny Chairboys their first ever point in the second tier
- Newly-promoted Wycombe denied their first point of the season at the death
- Michael Ihiekwe scored Rotherham’s winner in second minute of injury time
- It was a cruel outcome for the hosts, who created the game’s better chances
- But it underlined the scale of the challenge for Gareth Ainsworth’s side
If Gareth Ainsworth is to rock the Championship with Wycombe Wanderers, then he realises there is work to do. This defeat laid bare the challenge ahead for the division’s newbies.
Ainsworth, the long-haired manager whose love of rock ’n’ roll is renowned, thought his players had secured a historic point – their first in the second tier of English football.
Yet a stoppage-time header by Rotherham’s Michael Ihiekwe condemned them to an opening-day defeat at Adams Park. Ainsworth blamed himself, but said there were plenty of positives to take.
Michael Ihiekwe celebrates scoring Rotherham’s winner in the second minute of added time
Ihiekwe scored at the death in this opening day meeting of two newly-promoted teams
Rotherham’s late winner left Wycombe Wanderers deflated on their Championship debut
‘Managers who say they kick the cat and everything else – I’m not like that,’ said the man who has managed Wycombe since 2012. ‘I won’t be down tonight.
‘I’ll be normal Gareth at home. It’s a game of football. It’s been a hell of a ride for eight years.
‘I wake up every day feeling happy and lucky to be manager of Wycombe Wanderers. What a job. I’m so happy, you know? So I’m just going to spill all that positivity out into the boys.
‘If that’s wrong then you’re not going to get anything else.’
Wycombe’s Darius Charles goes close as the home side created plenty of decent chances
Scott Kashket of Wycombe is challenged by Rotherham’s Clark Robertson at Adams Park
Wycombe Wanderers (4-2-3-1): Allsop; Grimmer, Stewart, Charles, Jacobson; Bloomfield (Freeman 67), Pattison (McCarthy 82); Wheeler, Horgan, Onyedinma; Kashket (Parker 87)
Substitutes not used: Stockdale (GK); Tafazoli, Phillips, Samuel
Manager: Gareth Ainsworth
Rotherham United (4-4-1-1): Blackman; Harding, Ihiekwe, Robertson, Mattock; Ogbene, S. MacDonald, Lindsay, Sadlier (Wiles 67); Crooks (Smith 52); Ladapo (Vassell 83)
Substitutes not used: Johansson (GK); Jones, Miller, A MacDonald
Manager: Paul Warne
Scorer: Ihiekwe 90+2
Referee: James Linington
Above the Adams Park tunnel is a new sign. ‘Our house, our rules,’ it reads. That is Wycombe’s mantra. They do things their way, and few teams go as direct as they do.
One early long ball was brought down expertly by striker Scott Kashket, who then crossed for Daryl Horgan. The 28-year-old slid to meet the ball, but missed from three yards.
Whenever Wycombe won a free-kick – even if 10 yards inside of their own half – the hosts treated it as an opportunity to score from a set piece.
The ball would be lumped behind Rotherham’s back line for the forwards to chase, in the hope a chance presented itself.
There was no Adebayo Akinfenwa on the pitch due to the 38-year-old’s recent knee operation, though he was here at Adams Park, suited and booted, to support his team-mates.
After 20 minutes, Wycombe captain Matt Bloomfield committed a full-blooded challenge on Shaun MacDonald. He got the ball, but also his opponent’s shin.
Rotherham called for a red card, and referee James Linington produced an instant yellow to defuse the situation.
In the 34th minute, Wycombe should have scored the opener. J
oe Jacobson’s free-kick cross from the left wing was met by Darius Charles, who crashed a shot against the crossbar.
Moments later at the other end, Rotherham were the ones with heads in hands, as Ihiekwe’s attempt to nod the ball in at the back post went agonisingly wide.
After an entertaining first half, the second lacked excitement. With 20 minutes left in this match, there had been nothing worth jotting down in our notepads with chances hard to come by.
Ainsworth was still kicking and heading every ball on the touchline. Then in stoppage time came the sucker punch. Rotherham struck, with Joe Mattock’s corner headed in by Ihiekwe.
Joe Mattock of Rotherham clears the ball ahead of a Wycombe player during the match
Adams Park hosted second-tier football for the first time following Wycombe’s promotion
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