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READ | Pools result has youngsters back on track, says Barker

23 February 2017

Garreth Barker discusses the win in the Youth Alliance League...

Rotherham United Academy manager Garreth Barker says his youngsters’ 3-1 win over Hartlepool United in the Youth Alliance league has put them on track to challenge at the top end of the table as the season enters its final stages.

The Millers strengthened their standing in the Academy league with a triumph on home soil at Roundwood over Pools and Barker was delighted with their performance, but admitted the result was ever so slightly marred by them conceding a goal seconds from the end.

“It's another win and a good one which leaves us in the upper reaches of the league table,” he told www.themillers.co.uk.

“Unfortunately, with five minutes of extra time played, we conceded a goal with literally seconds left on the clock which saw Hartlepool react first to a 40-yard hit.

“We were disappointed to not keep a clean sheet and we do really want to be resolute in games because we're confident in our forward players.”

The Academy manager continued to explain that he felt the youngsters had trained well in the week building up the game, despite a postponed fixture against Burton Albion interrupting their league programme and paid tribute to his staff for their diligent work to maintain standards in the preparation.

“Training has been really good and we got a good win against Notts County and scored five great goals,” Barker continued.

“We had reserve games scheduled for the gap inbetween but they fell foul to the weather, meaning that we've just trained at a good level in the interim.

“It was a good week with the lack of fixtures to get somebody else on board and obviously throughout the time we've been without Matt, we've had Ciaran Toner and Jake Henry really digging in to help out.”

A superb team performance with three different scorers on the sheet meant the Millers’ emerged as victors with Barker paying tribute to Reece McGinley in particular, who finished the game with a goal and an assist to his name.

“I thought Reece McGinley was excellent in the game and he has been very good in every game he's played for us,” he explained.

“He's got international duty coming up soon and he's away for two Irish under 18's fixtures.

“Not only was he provider for what was a terrific goal for Akeel Francis which was a diving header that would grace any first team pitch.

“On the back of that work though, he got himself a goal, which might have taken a little deflection but after great interplay it was more than he deserved after cutting in from the left.

“The final goal for us was a penalty which was won by Akeel. We had a little debate about this in training with a few lads taking penalties. We nominated Lewis Murr and he got up and despatched that to put us three up."

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