Academy beat Oldham Athletic...
Rotherham United’s Academy began their 2017/18 Youth Alliance League form in a similar vein to that in which they finished the previous season, recording an opening day 2-0 win over Oldham Athletic.
The Millers’ first fixture provided them with a tough test over the Pennines, but Barker’s youngsters prevailed courtesy of goals from the returning Tom Maguire and Jake Southern-Cooper.
Barker’s side managed to see off their opponents without reply, meaning they recorded their first three points and clean sheet of the new season, as they set their sights on an equally successful season having finished as runners-up last term.
“We had a good pre-season and we enjoyed it. We went into the league which presented us with a tricky away fixture over at Oldham, where we had a good 2-0 win,” he explained.
“It was a great way to start the season and gives the boys confidence. It perhaps wasn't the performance that we'd have wanted and there were certainly opportunities for another goal, but it was a strong one and a good 2-0 win.”
Maguire’s return to the side was his first involvement, having missed the entirety of pre-season after sustaining a broken leg towards the back end of the 2016/17 season and Barker was delighted to see him etch his name onto the scoresheet in his first action of the new year.
“The interesting thing about Tom scoring is that he hasn't played much football recently because of his broken leg and it was his first game back,” he continued.
“I was really pleased that Tom had the desire, not only to play, but to play well and to get himself a goal having not played at all in pre-season.”
Southern-Cooper ensured the points were in the bag as he turned home a delivery from a set piece, despite their being doubts over whether it was he or a defender that applied the final touch to make it 2-0,
“Jake, like a few others in the side, is obviously going to be a danger from set pieces at over six feet tall so it was good to see him get a goal,” Barker added.
“We’re not sure if it needs to go to the dubious goal panel, as it might have been an own goal, but Jake is claiming it and it’s really good to see him getting amongst the goals.”