Rotherham United: Millers 6 Parkgate FC 2 ... New boys shine in sun as Ipswich confirm loan moves for Emmanuel and Moore

New boy Ryan Williams shows up well against Parkgate. Pictures: Dean Atkins
New boy Ryan Williams shows up well against Parkgate. Pictures: Dean Atkins

First, the fun in the sun.

Next, the drudgery at dawn.

The mood matched the weather on Saturday afternoon as a bumper crowd watched the new boys impress in Rotherham United’s 6-2 win over non-league Parkgate FC at the Roundwood base the two clubs share.

As news was breaking that Ipswich Town right-back Josh Emmanuel and striker Kieffer Moore will be joining the Millers on loan, supporters drew encouragement from the summer recruitment manager Paul Warne has already conducted.

Two goals each for new boys David Ball and Jamie Proctor in the opening 36 minutes meant Warne’s men were given a reception as warm as the temperature in their first pre-season friendly.

But, if you’re awake at 6.30am tomorrow, spare a thought for the squad who, after a flight from Manchester Airport this evening, will be in Austria for an eight-day boot camp.

“They’ll be running first thing in the morning, training again, training again, and then having a classroom lesson at night, which will go down well!” grinned Warne who is never happier than when he’s lacing up his trainers and contemplating another foray into fitness and fatigue.

“I never ran at dawn as a player. I wish I had because I would have been ace at it!”

The early start is partly to beat the heat - it’s as hot in Austria at the moment as it was at Costa del Roundwood - and partly to test hearts and character.

“Our theory is, how many other teams in League One will have been running at half past six in the morning every day?” the boss added. “It’s just a character-building thing.

Darren Potter makes his Millers debut

Darren Potter makes his Millers debut

“Whether it has any physiological benefits, I do not know. But that’s not the point. I’m trying to build men and fighters and togetherness. All the staff will be running as well.”

The players did a good job keeping thoughts of their impending Monday-morning blues at bay with an encouraging first-half display which saw them rattle up a 6-2 lead before an entire Millers team change at the interval brought an end to the goals for either side.

It’s early days, very early days, but Warne has made a start on winning over the doubters.

Except one. Wife Rachel.

Alex Bray impresses in the second half

Alex Bray impresses in the second half

“I like to think the public are behind what we’re trying to do and understand what we’re trying to do,” her husband said. “I’ve told the players: ‘The fans are all really behind you. Go out and try to win their faith.’

“I’m not getting carried away with a pre-season game, but it’s always nice to win games. We had a poor season last year and winning is a nice habit to get into so players start believing in what everyone is doing on the pitch.

“When I left this morning, the missus said: ‘Don’t lose to Parkgate.’ I’m like ... ‘Why would you say that?’ I got in my car and all of a sudden I started getting a bit nervous, thinking: ‘What if I did lose?’

“I’m trying to enjoy it. I might be a manager for the next 20 years, I might be a manager for the next 20 months. I’m going to try to enjoy it and do it the way I want to do it.”

Proctor and Ball, who spent more than a season together in a previous life at Fleetwood Town, looked sharp. New centre-half Michael Ihieke was assured at centre-half. Lee Frecklington, nifty executor of a touchline ‘rabona’, and Will Vaulks were the pick of the first-half old boys as Anthony Forde and Joe Newell also wrote their names on the scoresheet.

Second half, young Alex Bray was a constant, speedy menace down the left flank.

Parkgate kept themselves competitive in front of around 1,500 spectators with a goal by Danny Harris and a long-range stunner from Ash Emmett.

Centre-forward Jonson Clarke-Harris, back at the scene of his cruciate knee ligament injury last season, came out for the second half in a natty pair of camouflage boots but it was Rotherham goals that went into hiding as Parkgate goalkeeper Ben Hunter continued his man-of-the-match heroics.

A combination of him and the woodwork thwarted the Millers time and again throughout the match. In fact, his bar saw almost as much action as the one serving pints of lager to thirsty customers in the Parkgate clubhouse.

As for the other Millers new faces, Darren Potter anchored midfield like he’d been doing it all his life, which he has, and fellow midfield man Ryan Williams ... well, to reference the conditions one last time, his quick-footed, quick-thinking, quick-passing debut was a scorcher.

Proctor - who, after a difficult season at Bolton last year, was only three minutes into his Millers career when he opened his account - said: “It’s always good to score, to get goals and get chances, no matter who you’re playing.

“The biggest thing today was to get the fitness in, get a runaround and get used to playing again. It was a good 45 minutes. All the lads put in a good shift. The goals are a bonus.”

“There’s extra incentive for me after last season. Last year, it felt like I let myself down and I didn’t perform the way I know I can. I didn’t start start many games and it’s hard to get consistency when it’s like that. Strikers need a run of games. Coming away from Bolton, it’s a fresh start for me. I intend to be positive and do well.”

Now come the 6.30am hard yards and the classroom of 2017.

“It will be about how we’re going to play. ‘If Plan A doesn’t work, this is how we’re going to be.’” said Warne about his evening lecture time.

“We need to try to really screw things down. Today, I let the lads dictate the set-pieces, who they mark, who takes them, which was obviously a great success. I don’t think we scored off one! At least the coaches are still in a job to put their stamp on it!”

The players are up for it, particularly the new recruits. The manager wouldn’t have let them come to the club otherwise.

“All the lads I signed, I told them that’s the sort of thing they’ll be doing in Austria,” he said.

“All the lads I have signed know the script and are buying into what we are trying to do. I’m pleased.

“One of the lads I spoke to, sort of ... he didn’t turn his nose up, but didn’t look keen, so I didn’t perservere with signing him.”

Mrs Warne would approve.

Goals: Proctor 3, 31, Forde 16, David Ball 21, 36, Newell 44 (Rotherham); Harris 8, Emmett 29 (Parkgate).

First-half Millers (4-4-2): O’Donnell; Fisher, Dominic Ball, Ihiekwe, Purrington; Forde, Vaulks, Frecklington, Newell; David Ball, Proctor.

Second-half Millers (4-4-2): Price; Richardson, Ajayi, Wood, Mattock; Bailey-King, Potter, Williams, Bray; Francis, Clarke-Harris.

Parkgate: Hunter, Lannaman, Fawcus, Flint, Zalo, Alali, Howard, Emmett, Thornton, Hirst, Harris. Subs: Senior, Shelton, McGowan, Murphy, Woodhead, Mbeka, Clayton.

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