Rotherham United Academy manager Richard Hairyes heaped praise on his under-18s players, as they young guns began the season in style with a convincing 4-0 victory over Huddersfield Town at Graham Solley Sports Development Centre.
The Millers blew the visitors away with four goals in a stunning opening 15 minutes to virtually put the game to bed.
A brace from Joel Holvey, as well as strikes from Hamish Douglas and Adam Clark saw Rotherham make a dream start to their 2021/22 Youth Alliance campaign, in front of the watchful eye of some of the First Team coaching staff.
And Hairyes believes that the display was reward for all the hard work that has gone in during the off season.
“It was a great start to the season, but not unexpected. We’ve got a really good group, we’ve been saying that for a very long time and it all ties into what we’ve been trying to do,” Hairyes told www.themillers.co.uk.
“Of course, it is only one game and we’re not going to get carried away with it, but to see all the hard work we’ve put into pre-season coming onto the pitch is really pleasing. I thought we played with a maturity, we’ve noticed that around the place. When we scored our fourth goal, everyone but the keeper ran the length of the pitch to celebrate."
“I think that shows the team spirit that myself, John and Rob have worked hard to instil in the side. We’ve made a lot of change and it was a tough pre-season, but we’re convinced we will reap the rewards from our hard work.
“Its something that we’ve worked hard alongside the first team to create. Matt Hamshaw was there at the weekend and he said how impressed he was with what he’d seen.
“We want to create an identity here that mirrors the first team and it was great for the lads to be able to put on a show in front of them. We had six lads missing, which I think also puts the result into context and shows the strength we have here.”
As well as being pleased with the manner of the display against the Terriers, Lead Professional Development Coach Rob Poulter was left delighted with his side’s overall performance on Saturday.
On top of their blistering start to the game, the youngsters maintained impeccable standards, with Poulter reserving special praise for the desire of his team defensively, as well as on the attacking front.
“The preparation for the Huddersfield game started in our first pre-season game, we’ve got a philosophy and a way of playing that we want to implement right through the season.
“We wanted to make sure that the players understood that from minute one. Some real hard work went into that Huddersfield game at the weekend and I think that really showed on the pitch.
“It was always going to be difficult after that initial 15 minutes because there was still so long to go, but our standards were amazing. The players were celebrating blocks on the goal line as much as they were the goals and I think that is testament to the group that we’ve got."
“We can’t coach stuff like that, it’s all well and good telling the lads to do it, but they have to have the desire to be able to put their bodies on the line and block shots and we’ve got that in the group.
“Everyone mentions Italy and their two centre-backs celebrating when they prevent goals and that is what we are trying to create.
“In terms of the overall game, at 4-0 you do have to give lads the license to go out and express themselves and again I think we got a really good balance.
“We’ve set the standards now and we want to maintain them. Every time they drop below them we will be reminding them of where they need to be, but it is certainly a fantastic start.”
ACADEMY | Burnett; Greenhouse, Carroll, Exton, Jenkinson; Nesbitt (Ayres 47, Morgan 60), Durose, Douglas, Holvey; McGuckin, Clark (Grove 80).
UNUSED | Ford, Staniland.