Rotherham United: Are Ball and Yates the way forward for Millers?
In-form David Ball believes Rotherham United's new-look strikeforce can keep the goals coming in the absence of top scorer Kieffer Moore.
Ball and Jerry Yates struck up an immediate understanding at Blackpool last Saturday when Yates joined the action as a half-time substitute to help the League One Millers come from behind to win 2-1.
Ball pounced twice to take his tally to three goals in three games and, with 13-goal loan hitman Moore suspended for the next two games and heading back to parent club Ipswich Town in January, the 27-year-old hopes boss Paul Warne will keep faith with the fledgling pairing.
“I can see the partnership working,” said Ball, now enjoying his longest run in the side after his summer move from Fleetwood Town.
“Jez is a young lad. His energy is infectious. I like to play high-energy football and I know he does too.
“Partnerships can sometimes just click and I think this one did. Straight away, their backline started to move back because of the running of the two of us. That rubbed off on the lads behind us who could get forward more.”
Warne, whose side are at home to Plymouth Argyle on Saturday, has played Moore as a loan frontman for much of the campaign.
At Bloomfield Road, the manager started with a 3-5-2 formation at Bloomfield Road and switched to 4-4-2 at the break, sending on Yates and Anthony Forde to replace Jonson Clarke-Harris and Michael Ihiekwe.
“Jez put his body on the line and went up for headers,” Ball said. “It was great from him. He’s been limited to not many chances at all this season, so I was delighted for him on a personal level. That bodes well for us, without Kieffer at the moment.”
Ball shot home from close range in the 77th minute and then grabbed the winner three minutes from time with a courageous near-post header from Forde’s corner.
He knew he was going to be clattered by a Seasiders defender but was prepared to take the pain to clinch the victory which ended a seven-match winless run.
“I took a whack for the second goal,” he said. “He just elbowed me in the chest and I got winded. Then I had big Woody (Richard Wood) jump on me! I couldn’t speak.
“I was aware I could get hurt. To score, you’ve got to be brave, especially on corners when the ball is put into a good area. You have to attack it.”
Normally, Ball positions himself close to the goalkeeper at corners but had worked on a different approach with assistant manager Richie Barker in training.
The player added: “Fordey said to me beforehand: ‘Get across the near-post.’ I’ve just been as brave as I can be.”
His late winner, which sparked memorable celebrations in the away end, saw the Millers climb to ninth in the table ahead of a home double-header against Plymouth Argyle this Saturday and MK Dons the following week.
“I knew I was getting it and I just got on it as much contact as I could to guide it into the net,” Ball said. “Luckily, as I went down, I managed to see it go in.
“They’re great moments when you score like that at the end and get that reaction from the fans.”