Striker Danny Ward feared he’d never score for Rotherham United this season before bagging his first goal for 10 months in the club’s Boxing Day demolition of Bolton Wanderers.
The in-form attacker was on target in the second half of the 4-0 triumph which lifted the Millers out of the Championship drop zone
But he revealed he had doubted himself after missing a clear opportunity in the 32nd minutes at a sold-out AESSEAL New York Stadium.
“I thought after the chance in the first half that it was going to be one of those seasons where it never comes,” he said. “To get that goal gives me a big confidence boost personally. But I can’t take anything away from the way the team performed.”
Ward struck in emphatic style in the 74th minute yet even then had worries as he rounded Bolton goalkeeper Ben Amos after Joe Newell’s pass to pave the way for a clinical finish.
“I thought I’d taken it too far wide,” the 24-year-old confessed. “It got to that stage where I thought ‘I am just going to have to hit this as hard as I can’. Luckily, I found the gap and it was a goal.”
He last scored on March 3 last term against Cardiff City.
The lone striker won the sponsors’ man-of-the-match award for the second week running as Rotherham destroyed the visitors in a thrilling second half to climb to 21st place after four wins in their last seven outings.
“It was really enjoyable. They are the sort of games that you love to play in,” he said. “We just seemed to have so much time on the ball and loads of chances got created. It was massive for our confidence and to get out of the bottom three as well is a massive thing for us.
“It was one of those games where nothing really was happening and it just depended on who got the first goal. It was us and it sparked something massive.”
Ward is set to continue on his own up front at Fulham tomorrow night as fellow striker Leon Best is still affected by a groin problem.
Best hasn’t played since his debut at Leeds United last month and, despite an injection, will need surgery.
“Leon trained on Christmas Day and got through the session,” manager Neil Redfearn revealed. “He had the green light from the specialist that it is not going to get any worse.
“He obviously does need an operation at some stage. He can play through it, but the injury is restricting his movement, his explosive movement. We are going to have to have a rethink on that one, go back to the specialist and have a rethink.”
Lewis Buxton missed out against the Trotters, with Frazer Richardson stepping in, and Redfearn confirmed the absence of the right-back, who joined the club in the summer after leaving Sheffield Wednesday, wasn’t injury-related.
“It’s a contractual thing that needs resolving,” he said.
The Rotherham boss is keeping his own counsel on Tunisian defender Aymen Belaid who has been pictured on social media in Millers colours inside New York just days before the transfer window opens.
“There are things that are happening but I don’t really want to talk about it too much until January,” he said. “I want to keep as we are. Obviously we are active. We know the people who we want to bring in.”