Hartlepool United Academy were rewarded with their first win of the New Year after a resolute home display against Rotherham United in the EFL Youth Alliance.
Following a 2-0 defeat at Bradford City last weekend, there were three changes to the Pools line-up as Joel Ingram, Joe Aungiers and Eddie Ormerod entered the fray.
Ian McGuckin's side were behind with the first chance of the game. Rotherham won a free-kick near the left corner flag, and the delivery came off a Pools defender inside a crowded six-yard box before hitting the back of the net.
On 15 minutes, Pools came forward for the first time as Ormerod slipped a delightful ball into Alfie Steel but the forward blazed over from a tight angle.
The hosts continued to press as Leo Robinson fired over the crossbar from 20 yards, while Steel turned his man before firing wide.
The Millers had rarely threatened since taking the lead in the 10th minute. However, a cross from the right laid perfectly for an unmarked Josh Ayres in the box, who sent a diving header wide of the post with 35 on the clock.
Pools found their leveller two minutes before the break. When Max Storey and Ormerod linked up to feed Steel, the striker was impeded from behind inside the opposition box. Steel stepped up and sent the keeper the wrong way from the penalty spot.
The home side started the second half with intent when Aungiers cut inside from the right flank before setting Storey. From a central position, the number 11 jinked onto his left foot before striking narrowly over.
There were still signs of danger however as Rotherham were denied by the woodwork on 69 minutes. A long goal kick was flicked on, allowing Ayres to drive into the box before striking the front post.
Josh Mazfari was twice called into action around the 80th minute, before Pools went up the other end and grabbed the lead through Storey. Steel controlled a cross from the right before Storey gracefully turned inside the box and drove an effort into the bottom corner.
And a third was added in the 85th minute. Robinson wrestled for possession high up the pitch before Storey tapped home from Aungiers' rebound, securing an entertaining victory for McGuckin's side at Blackhall.
Pools Academy now prepare for a home clash against Notts County on Saturday, January 20 (11am kick-off).
Pools: Mazfari, Kitching, Grundle, Berry, Darcy, Ingram, Aungiers (Burnett 88), Robinson (Wallace 90+2), Steel, Ormerod (Wood 88), Storey
Subs (not used): Wilkinson, Duthie