Alfreton Town 3 Rotherham United 2 - New boy Ward stays on goal trail but Millers slip

Danny Ward watches an effort sail towards goal, only to be cleared off the line
Danny Ward watches an effort sail towards goal, only to be cleared off the line

It took Grant Ward 26 minutes to confirm what Rotherham United are quickly discovering.

The Millers’ new loan signing has an eye for a goal.

Jordan Bowery keeps his eye on the ball

Jordan Bowery keeps his eye on the ball

It took him 62 to confirm something else they are also happily finding out.

His finishing is of the highest quality.

The 20-year-old, who has joined Steve Evans’ side on a six-month loan from Premier League Tottenham Hotspur, was deployed on the right flank in the 3-2 loss at Alfreton Town instead of in his usual central midfield role.

But the change in position made no difference to his potency as he arrived at the back post to bundle in a cross from the left in the first half for his third goal in three pre-season friendlies.

Danny Ward tussles with Alfreton's Todd Jordan

Danny Ward tussles with Alfreton's Todd Jordan

Seventeen minutes into the second half he latched on to substitute Tom Rose’s angled ball forward and his shot flashed beautifully past Town goalkeeper Nick Draper.

Seven minutes after that, he departed the action to applause from both sets of fans, four goals in 159 minutes of pre-season action and job very well done.

A defeat took the shine off his double, but pre-season is the one time of the year when the result isn’t everything.

Alfreton - relegated from the Conference last season and about to operate in the sixth tier of English football, the National League - were very worthy opponents and had equalised on 40 minutes through Sam Jones’ rasping long-range drive.

Maybe Jones had been watching Ward at Parkgate FC and Stocksbridge Park Steels, where the Millers’ eighth recruit of the summer had smacked home goals of equal quality.

Rotherham had most of the first-half chances against a Town side managed by former Millers centre-half Nicky Law.

Danny Ward blazed over in the 15th minute when Danny Collins’ ball over the top had put him clear and the striker was denied with 40 minutes on the clock when he chipped goalkeeper Lewis King only to see Todd Jordan clear off the line.

But the home side gave them a real test, and Ward’s second goal came only seconds after John Johnston and Dan Bradley had come close to giving Law’s men the lead.

Johnston made no mistake in the 79th minute with the outside of his right foot to restore parity and Joe Ironside settled an end-to-end encounter with a minute of normal time remaining with a close-range header.

Rotherham, who brought on several second-year scholars after the break, won’t be pleased to have lost, but this was a good workout to get under their belts.

Next up is three games north of the border as preparations are stepped up for their Championship opener on August 8 against MK Dons.

Grant Ward will be on the coach tomorrow. Scotland beware.

Alfreton Town: King (Draper H-T), Moyo (Berry, 23), Heaton (Galinski 55), Jordan, Allan, Jones, Bradley, Thanoj, Wilson (Palin), Leesley (Ironside 55), Smith (Johnston 55).

Rotherham United (4-4-2): Collin (Bilboe 90); Richardson (Dickinson 59), Halford (Thorpe H-T), Wood, Collins (Rose 59); Grant Ward (Yates 69), Smallwood (Green H-T), Frecklington, Trialist (Warren 79); Bowery (Bailey-King 78), Danny Ward (Clarke-Harris H-T). Sub not used: Redmayne.

Referee: Paul Thompson.

Attendance: 452.