Rising star Jonson Clarke-Harris scored twice in a game for the first time for Rotherham United and then paid tribute to a player who wasn’t even on the pitch.
Fellow striker Leon Best missed out on the 3-0 win over Bristol City through suspension after being sent off on his debut, at Leeds United, seven days earlier.
But Clarke-Harris, who bent in a long-range wonder-goal and then smashed home an unstoppable penalty, endorsed manager Neil Redfearn’s view that the presence of Best in the Millers camp is already making the 21-year-old an even more dangerous player.
“I have to agree with the manager 100 per cent,” said Clarke-Harris who took his goal tally for the season to five.
“Leon has been there, done that and played at the highest level. He’s played in the Premier League, so I want to follow in his footsteps. I try to do the things that he’s doing. I ask him how his lifestyle is and he tells me. He’s a similar player to myself but just a lot more experienced. “
Redfearn, who has now seen his side pick up six poinst in two games as they look to climb out of the Championship relegation places, says Clarke-Harris and former Newcastle United forward Best, aged 29, have already forged a close bond.
“I definitely think Best has had an influence on Clarke-Harris,” the Millers boss said. “Jonson’s got a ‘Mister’ up there who knows the ropes and has taken him under his wing.
“Jonson’s got ability. He’s a beautiful build. He’s quick, powerful and I think if you stick him in front of goal he can finish. If you’re scoring goals, it gives you confidence.”
Best signed for Rotherham until the end of the season two weeks ago but had already spent a fortnight training with the club.
“He tells me how it is and gives me little talks,” Clarke-Harris revealed. “Already I have got quite a cause with him and it’s something we can build on.”
The young attacker admitted he’d taken note of his boss’s advice.
“The gaffer kept telling me to shoot, shoot,” he said.
“I thought the first was going wide but it crept in. I couldn’t see as the defender was blocking me. For the penalty, I grabbed the ball and completely zoned out. I didn’t let any of my teammates talk to me and just smashed it as hard as I could.”
The Millers had targeted victory against a side close to them in the table and are now only a point away from a place above the drop zone.
“It’s an absolute massive win for us as it gives us back-to-back victories,” Clarke-Harris added. “It’s three points on the table and a win we can build on.”
Redfearn, meanwhile, enjoyed the youngster’s emphatic spot-kick as much as every other Miller inside AESSEAL New York Stadium.
“He nearly took the net off, didn’t he?” he grinned. “I’ve seen him take them before in training. I was hoping he was just going to smack it.”
New defender Stephen Kelly, who was making only his second start, will be assessed this week after leaving the action late in the first half with a calf problem