Rotherham United’s U18s returned to winning ways as they turned in a dominant display against Burton Albion which earned them a 3-1 victory at Sheffield Hallam University Sports Park on Saturday.
The Millers had to come from behind to record three points in the Youth Alliance League and did so convincingly thanks to goals from debutant U16 Dean Gardner, Ben Hatton and Josh Ayres.
Joe Skarz oversaw the U18s on Saturday morning and selected a side that included two debutants in the form of U16 players Gardner and Ben Scothern, while Kane Richardson made his first appearance of the season having successfully completed a long rehabilitation for an injury he sustained during the club’s pre-season programme.
The hosts started brightly and fired early warning signs to the Brewers including a strike that rattled the woodwork early doors, but found themselves on the wrong end of the scoreline when the visitors took a surprise lead.
There was a ripple of applause from everyone in attendance at SHU when a Burton attacker turned and dragged the ball away from his marker before firing the opener into the top corner.
The Millers did not dwell on feeling sorry for themselves though and restored parity on 28 minutes when debutant Gardner popped up at the back post to time applying a tidy finish to a cross from the left-hand side to perfection to make it 1-1.
Right on the stroke of half time, the hosts had a second which came through their latest Academy graduate Ben Hatton.
The U18s have been accustomed to the newly-professional attacker producing moments of magic and it was again some fine solo work which saw him weave his way beyond a marker before tucking the ball under the goalkeeper to put his side ahead.
A performance which was described as ‘organised’ and ‘dominant’ by Academy Manager Richard Hairyes continued into the second half but the Millers would have to be patient in their quest to add gloss to the scoreline.
A third goal finally arrived to reward their efforts two minutes from time, when substitute Josh Ayres latched onto a nicely-weighted through ball before taking a touch with his right foot to tee up an effort on his stronger left, which he despatched with aplomb into the bottom left corner of the Brewers’ goal to make it 3-1.
Academy | Hamilton, Scothern (Seisay 77), Roddis, Hibberd, Grove, Lee, Richardson, Wilson, Hatton (Ayres 45), Gardner (Clarice 90), Shepherd (Giwa 65).
Unused | Gordon.