A young Rotherham United side were narrowly defeated 2-1 by Huddersfield Town in their first involvement in the 2021/22 Central League Cup on Tuesday afternoon.
The likes of Josh Vickers, Joshua Kayode, Jake Hull and Jacob Gratton provided the only senior experience as first team boss Paul Warne and Matt Hamshaw looked on from the sidelines, with Academy staff Richard Hairyes and Rob Poulter taking charge of the clash with the Terriers.
Brahima Diarra's first half goal set the more experienced West Yorkshiremen on their way before the visitors were pegged back as some intense Millers pressing forced an own goal to restore parity at 1-1 in the second half.
It was the Terriers who had the final say though, as Kian Harratt kept his cool from the penalty spot to win the Central League Cup group fixture at Roundwood on Tuesday afternoon.
The visitors had the better of the early exchanges and went close just two minutes in when Midgley delivered towards the back post, forcing Vickers to tip the ball onto the bar to concede a corner.
Four minutes later, the Terriers probed again through Headley, who delivered a wicked cross towards the far post, which Harratt couldn’t quite reach before seeing the assistant referee raise her flag for offside.
The Millers responded through Greenhouse’s long throw. The defender speared the ball into the six yard box into Kayode’s path, but the striker was beaten to it by Bilokapic who rose highest to get a firm punch clear.
Vickers was then forced into a point-blank save to deny Harratt the opening goal after the ball had fallen kindly to the striker in the area following a strike from Headley.
On 13 minutes, Diarra found a yard of space from Spencer’s throw and tried his luck from distance, but his low effort was never troubling Vickers.
Huddersfield eventually broke the deadlock through Diarra who capitalised on Jackson’s corner to head firmly past the outstretched arm of Vickers on 17 minutes.
The Terriers went close again six minutes later when Harratt raced onto Midgley’s precise through pass before smacking his effort against the side netting from a tight angle.
The home side responded through Jacob Graton, who did brilliantly to turn a seemingly lost cause into a scoring opportunity from a long ball up field.
Picking the ball up in the corner he turned his marker before teeing up Douglas for a strike from distance, but his effort was beaten away by the ‘keeper.
Huddersfield went down the other end two minutes as Obiero stung Vickers’ palms from 20 yards, following some good build-up play through the middle.
Vickers had to be on his guard again 10 minutes from the break as he raced out of his goal to smother the ball and in the process, prevent Harratt from reaching a dangerous through pass from Midgley.
Half-time | Reserves 0 v 1 Huddersfield Town
With first team boss Warne watching on from the sidelines, there was a chance for everyone to impress, but it would have been the spectating Viktor Johansson looking over his shoulder as much as anyone, as Vickers continued to impress between the sticks.
Jackson’s pinpoint free kick from 25 yards looked set to double the visitors’ advantage as he headed for the top corner, only to be denied going there by the outstretched palm of the former Lincoln man, who tipped it over the crossbar.
Gratton and Carroll would both go close following ammunition provided by Greenhouse throw-ins, but neither were able to find an equaliser with their efforts.
The Millers’ early second half endeavour finally paid dividends just after an hour had elapsed and it was in a fashion that the first team would be proud of that it materialised.
A high press forced Jackson into a hasty backpass which deceived the goalkeeper and found it’s way into the back of the net to level the scores up at 1-1.
Midgley and Harratt both threatened as the Terriers looked to restore their advantage, with the latter denied by some sharp defending from Douglas, who nipped in at the opportune moment to block his shot.
Huddersfield would re-take the lead on 70 minutes though, after Obiero was upended by Vickers in the box.
Keen not to be thwarted again, Harratt stepped up and despatched the penalty, sending the Millers stopper the wrong way in the process.
Young forward Josh Kayode had looked lively both sides of the interval and almost added a goal to a good all-round showing as he tried to turn Durose’s free kick goalwards, but was unable to trouble the goalkeeper.
He was presented with an even better opportunity with 10 minutes left on the clock after a nicely-weighted Clark through ball found his run, which saw the Republic of Ireland U21 international draw a fine fingertip save to ensure his side stayed ahead at 2-1.
The Millers youngsters continued to compete admirably against a much more experienced Terriers outfit but were ultimately unable to find a way back into the game, as their West Yorkshire counterparts saw out the result at Roundwood.
Full-time | Reserves 1 v 2 Huddersfield Town
Reserves | Vickers; Carroll, Hull, Day; Greenhouse, Douglas, Durose, Watson, Jenkinson; Gratton, Kayode.
Subs | Burnett, Clarke, Champion.