Manager Paul Warne was not surprised Rotherham’s late winner against Wycombe came from a set-piece but believes improvement is still needed to find sustained success in the Championship this season.
Wycombe had marginally the better chances at Adams Park but in second-half stoppage time, Michael Ihiekwe rose highest to head home Joe Mattock’s corner and give the Millers a 1-0 victory.
Both teams excelled at set-pieces en route to promotion from League One last season and Warne believes it was fitting a corner made the difference on the opening day.
He said: “I’m pleased to get off to a win. It was a really competitive game with both teams going for it.
“We were both the best teams for set-pieces last year, so it wasn’t a massive surprise one of us won it with a set-piece. It could have been Wycombe, it could have been us.
“I thought second half we were a little bit in the ascendancy. The highlight is going in the dressing room afterwards and all the lads are buzzing. There were some good performances but we’re going to need to get better to win more games.
“Sometimes you get your just rewards and sometimes you don’t and luckily this week we were on the right end.”
Rotherham have become the archetypal yo-yo club in recent years, with every one of their last four seasons either ending in relegation from the Championship or promotion from League One.
They will be eager to break that cycle and Warne claims this victory sets them in good stead – certainly better than the 2018/19 campaign when they were thumped 5-1 by Brentford on the opening day.
He added: “It’s nice to start the season with a win. The last time we were in the Championship, Brentford gave us a right good lesson so it does feel better this time!”
Wycombe looked the more likely to score across the 90 minutes as new signing Daryl Horgan fired over from close range and Darius Charles hit the underside of the crossbar.
It ultimately counted for nothing, however, and manager Gareth Ainsworth was left to rue being undone by a set-piece despite highlighting that as a Rotherham strength during the build-up to the game.
He said: “We knew they were good at set plays so it’s disappointing because we’ve worked on that. Fair play to them they never gave up, they were organised and they came at us.
“We had some great chances in the first half and you have to put them in. You don’t get many in the Championship and they haven’t had a shot on target all game until the 92nd minute.
“I’m really proud of the boys, it’s a great introduction for us and we’ll learn plenty from this.”
Wycombe are embarking on their first campaign in the second tier and despite slipping to defeat, Ainsworth saw enough from his side to suggest they can thrive in the Championship – especially if they can sharpen up their finishing.
He added: “Some of our boys are not going to be out of place in this league. The boys were really looking forward to this challenge.
“We probably deserved a point out of it but you have to put the ball in the back of the net which didn’t happen. It’s a sucker punch but I’m sure we’ll bounce back.”