Millers match verdict: Stocksbridge PS 0 Rotherham United 3 ... It’s all White for Aidy

Aidy White on the run against Stocksbridge. Picture: Jim Brailsford
Aidy White on the run against Stocksbridge. Picture: Jim Brailsford
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The thumbs-up from the stand said it all.

Rotherham United’s Aidy White had turned in a scintillating first-half show for his new club at non-league Stocksbridge Park Steels.

Grant Ward scores with a thunderbolt

Grant Ward scores with a thunderbolt

After being replaced at half-time to give others a chance to impress, he wandered down the touchline, a plastic lunchbox full of pasta in his hand, towards the Millers bench.

“Aidy,” came a shout from the crowd, followed by the gesture of approval as the former Leeds United flyer turned to look.

It came from Rotherham boss Steve Evans, sat watching with chairman Tony Stewart while No 2 Paul Raynor occupied the dugout.

White looked suitably pleased. But not as pleased as Evans must be feeling as the Millers build for their August 8 Championship opener and their new recruits continue to encouragingly bed in.

Danny Ward shoots

Danny Ward shoots

Steels, who play their trade in the Division One South of the UniBond Northern Premier League, were valiant opponents but had no answer to the pace and driving runs of White, the first of Evans’ seven signings since the end of last season.

One penetrating dash from the 23-year-old winger, who popped up on both flanks to equal effect, produced the opening goal in the 18th minute for Richie Smallwood who coolly slotted home.

“It’s not just his pace, it’s the way he carries the ball,” said Raynor aterwards. “He’s incisive. One pass that put Greg Halford through on goal was absolutely exceptional.

“We’ve said, but for his injury problems at Leeds last year, he probably wouldn’t be in a Rotherham United shirt but probably playing a lot higher. We’re absolutely delighted with him. He’s settled in really well and there’s much more to come from him. A great start from him.”

Jerry Yates in second-half action

Jerry Yates in second-half action

The second goal came from teenage central midfielder Grant Ward, a Spurs player training with the Millers, who might well become signing No 8 after bagging his second spectacular goal in two games.

With his sharp athleticism, balance and touch, the 19-year-old had shown up well from the start, and in the 35th minute he did what he did at Parkgate FC in midweek: fire in a superb long-range effort.

Click here for Manu Ledesma’s verdict on Steve Evans

He saw his chance, the connection was perfect and a thumping drive flew into the net from 20 yards.

“He’s settling in very nicely. He linked very well with Richie Smallwood,” Raynor added.

“We’re trying to put different pairings together and link different players all over the pitch. It was very pleasing that Richie got himself a goal. He’s not renowned for his scoring but he’s got that licence a little bit because Grant’s quite comfortable sitting in that holding role as well. I thought they complemented each other very, very well.”

Another new boy, Halford, was a composed, intelligent figure up front as he builds on his fitness after joining the club a week into pre-season, and he was another to give way at the interval as the Millers made a raft of changes.

They needed only 53 seconds of the second half to ease into a 3-0 lead when Jonson Clarke-Harris headed home Danny Ward’s inviting cross and could have added several more had Steels keeper Sam Andrew not been in such inspired form.

Danny Ward was the player denied on most occasions, and afterwards he grinned ruefully: “I had my keeper-finders on, didn’t I?

“But it’s all about getting our fitness and getting ready for the season. I’m feeling good.”

Raynor said: “I thought we were very good in the first half and the tempo dropped a wee bit in the second half.”

After the Wednesday win at Parkgate, this was another step forward for the Millers who played some slick, incisive stuff less than a fortnight since returning from their summer break.

Manu Ledesma, Lewis Buxton and Joe Mattock missed out with niggles, but other new faces Halford, Grant Ward. Danny Collins, Tom Thorpe and, of course, pasta man White showed that Evans looks to be adding the right ingredients.

Stocksbridge: Andrew, Scully, Coleman, Haigh (Thompson, 59), Cardwell, McFadyen, Biggins, Hinchcliffe (Shaw, 68), Garside (Stirrup, 68), Critchlow, Lever (Turner, 72). Subs not used: Laight, Reay.

Rotherham United (first half, 4-4-2): Collin; Richardson, Thorpe, Collins, Warren; Trialist, Grant Ward, Smallwood, White; Halford, Bowery.

Rotherham United (second half, 4-4-2): Collin; Dickinson, Wood, Thorpe (Peace-McDonald, 64), Warren; Yates, Green, Frecklington, Trialist (Rose, 71); Danny Ward, Clarke-Harris.

Referee: James Bell,