Rotherham United’s U18s booked their place in the semi-finals of the Youth Alliance Cup with a hard-fought 3-2 victory over Bradford City on Monday morning.
A double-salvo of penalties from Adam Clark and a set piece routine which was finished by Ed Mare ensured a safe passing into the next round for the Millers youngsters as they came out in an all-Yorkshire battle at Graham Solley Sports Centre.
A number of the Academy’s more youthful prospects starred as the Millers handed starts to a handful of first-year scholars for the clash with the Bantams, including Tom Shepherd, Leiwi Abraham and Ben Clark.
It was the West Yorkshire outfit who made the early running in the tie as they charged into an early 1-0 lead, but were pegged back when Adam Clark kept his cool from 12 yards to despatch a penalty to restore parity.
The Academy started the second half in the ascendency and hit the woodwork before Clark had the opportunity to put the Millers ahead with his second of the game.
Clark would be ice cool again from the spot when asked to repeat the same feat not long after and once again obliged as he doubled his tally for the afternoon and put his side 2-1 up in the process.
The Bantams refused to relent and would hit back to equalise by making it 2-2, but Ed Mare’s predatory instincts after Hamish Douglas was unable to make a telling connection with a Ben Hatton free kick, saw him steal in inside the penalty area to strike a decisive third goal, which would prove to be the winner.
Lead Youth Development Phase Coach Joe Skarz was left delighted by the Millers’ performance against a side he believes to be one of the best left in the competition and reserved special praise for the younger players involved on Monday.
“The lads played really well against a good team in Bradford,” he told www.themillers.co.uk.
“I really rate Bradford as a team and I think they were one of the best sides left in the cup – and in our league too. That makes it an even better victory for the lads.
“Louie Abraham was outstanding, as was Ben Clark and Tom Shepherd did really well. It’s good to see because these lads are first-years.”
Academy | Ford, Shepherd, Seisay, Douglas, Jenkinson, Mare, Champion, Abraham, Hatton, Clark, Bond (Roddis 76).
Unused | Hamilton, Grove.