On-the-whistle report: Michael Smith at the double ... Harrogate Town 1 Rotherham United 3

On-the-whistle report: Michael Smith at the double ... Harrogate Town 1 Rotherham United 3

By Paul Davis | 21/07/2021

On-the-whistle report: Michael Smith at the double ... Harrogate Town 1 Rotherham United 3
Michael Smith scores his second goal at Harrogate. Picture by Jim Brailsford

TWO-GOAL Michael Smith helped Rotherham United make up for a lack-lustre showing 24 hours earlier as Rotherham United ran out victors in their friendly clash at Harrogate Town tonight.

The Millers had been poor in a 2-2 draw at Rochdale on Tuesday but were much sharper at the EnviroVent Stadium and the result was never in doubt.

Smith struck early, bagging a double inside the first quarter of an hour as Paul Warne's stepped up their pre-season schedule before a trip to Grimsby Town on Saturday.

His power header from Dan Barlaser's cross opened the scoring on seven minutes and seven minutes later the centre-forward doubled his and the League One Millers' tally.

He took advantage of a slip in the home defence to latch on to the ball from close range and dink the ball beyond goalkeeper Joe Cracknell.

Youngster Jacob Gratton almost made it 3-0 in the 23rd minute, smacking the woodwork with a thumping effort from the edge of the area, and Cracknell did well to deny new boy Shane Ferguson on the follow-up.

The former Millwall man was making his first start on the left and his Championship pedigree was evident from the start as he looked comfortable on the ball, defended well, broke quickly and hardly put a foot wrong.

Another unfamiliar face in the line-up was a playing up front with Smith and was named on the teamsheet as a trialist. He worked hard but his touch was off and he had little effect on the game.

League Two Harrogate were worthy opponents and Millers keeper Josh Vickers was relieved to see Jack Muldoon's header go just wide after 32 minutes.

A decent half ended with Vickers comfortably holding on to a curling shot from a trialist in the Town line-up.

A few-hundred Harrogate supporters were lapping up the occasion and warm weather in this genteel part of North Yorkshire but Millers followers had to make do with a £10 internet feed as Town had refused to admit away fans.

Nine minutes into the second half, Michael Ihiekwe scored for the second time in two games as his close-range finish put Rotherham three goals clear. Just as he had been at Rochdale, Ferguson was the provider, this time direct from a corner.

Just past the hour mark, substitute Luke Armstrong pulled back a goal for Town, beating young Josh Chapman, on for his debut at at half-time in place of Vickers, with an emphatic finish.

Rotherham had brought on several academy youngsters in a raft of substitutions, allowing Harrogate back into the contest, and Chapman had to save smartly low at his near post to thwart a trialist on 72 minutes.

Town, strengtened by their own subs, pressed towards the end but the Millers held out without too much trouble to seal the win.

They even threatened a fourth goal in the 86th minute when Hamish Douglas rattled the bar with a stunning 25-yard shot.

Harrogate: Joe Cracknell, Nathan Sheron, Lewis Page (Alex Pattison,59), Josh Falkingham (Warren Burrell 59), Rory McArdle, Connor Hall, Trialist (Aaron Martin 59), Lloyd Kerry, Danilo Orsi (Luke Armstrong 59), Jack Muldoon (George Thomson 59), Trialist. Subs not used: Mark Oxley.

Rotherham (3-5-1-1): Josh Vickers (Josh Chapman H-T); Jake Hull, Michael Ihiekwe (Billy Carroll 72), Jake Cooper; Chiedozie Ogbene (Jerome Greaves 66), Dan Barlaser (Sam Greenhouse H-T), Jamie Lindsay (Hamish Douglas 76), Jacob Gratton (Joel Holvey. 84), Shane Ferguson (Curtis Durose 56); Trialist (Josh Kayode 66); Michael Smith (Freddie Ladapo). Subs not used: Viktor Johansson, Wes Harding, Joe Mattock, Richard Wood, Ben Wiles, Kieran Sadlier, Mickel Miller.

Referee: Marc Edwards (Tyne and Wear).


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