Nearly 150 senior appearances have taken him from Alfreton Town to the international stage with Jamaica but the one thing that had eluded defender Wes Harding was a goal…until last night.
The 25-year-old – who has been Mr. Consistency since arriving from Birmingham City last summer – was finally rewarded in finding the net for the first time as a professional, when his well-taken left-footed strike beat Cambridge United stopper Dimitar Mitov on Tuesday night.
The versatile operator, who has proven himself more than competent across a number of positions for the Millers, found himself surging forward from the right-wing-back slot to latch onto a Will Grigg cutback and sweep home with his weaker foot to give his side the advantage in the midweek Papa John’s Trophy quarter final.
Whilst nobody is expecting 20 goals-a-season from the likeable full back, Harding admitted that it was a good feeling to finally break his duck, adding that he was so caught up in the moment he almost forgot to mark it with his teammates.
“It felt really good,” he beamed after the game.
“I almost forgot to celebrate to be honest."
“It felt a bit of a relief just to get a goal and get a good start in the game and it was early on.
“I’m a defender, so I don’t really worry about scoring goals, but of course, it is nice to get on the scoresheet.
“It was a really nice assist that came from some hard work from him [Grigg] and he put it on a plate for me. I just thought ‘smash it on target’.”
The wait is over: Wes Harding is mobbed by teammates following his goal against the U's
The Millers needed sudden death penalties to ensure their safe passage through into the semi finals of the 2021/22 competition, but might not have had they capitalised on laying siege to the U’s goal in the early exchanges at AESSEAL New York Stadium.
Whilst his side were made to work for the win, Harding continued to add that the nature of the victory is nearly always secondary to coming out on top come 90 minutes.
“We had a few chances but, to be fair, I remember they had a few blocks in the area, so I don’t think that we wasted chances, but obviously, we can always do better,” he explained.
“A win is a win and we’re happy with that. Wembley is the motivation.
“Winning games is great for confidence, but it is how you win the games as well.
“If we play well and lose, you get confidence from that as well, but obviously winning is the be-all and end-all really.”
The Jamaican international concluded by heaping praise on goalkeeper Viktor Johansson for his tie-winning penalty save, explaining that it isn’t just in goal where the competition is red hot for places.
“The standard of penalties here is top, so when Vik pulled out the save it was beautiful,” Harding smiled.
“The battle they have is pretty much the same across the whole team. We’ve got a lot of good players in all positions. Everyone is battling really and once you’re out there, you’ve got to perform.”