Saturday 5th September 2015Football League Youth Alliance
at Roundwood Sports Pavilion, Parkgate
Rotherham United (0) 1
Ross Dickinson 64
Mansfield Town (1) 2
Tyler Blake 35, Cain Smith 75
Lawrence Bilboe, Fabian Bailey, Dan Smalley, Ross Dickinson (Brandon Potts 75), Adam Saxton, Tom Rose, Darnelle Bailey-King, Trae Adeyemi (Adam Johnson 50), Kudakwashe Muskwe (C), Ben Wilkes, Alaster Redmayne (Imad Ul Haque 62)
Unused subs - Harry Fidler, J-Cee Abraham
Sam Wilson (C), Charlie Shaw (Henry Britijn 72), Louis Danquah, Cain Smith, Morgan Ratcliffe, Kieran Harrison, Teddy Bloor, Cameron Healey, Tyler Blake, Zayn Hakeem, Tom Marriott (Alistair Smith 80)
Unused subs - Luke Bacon, Joe McBreaty, Kieron Lane
CLICK HERE FOR FLICKR PHOTO GROUP FROM THIS GAME
Resilience, togetherness and teamwork were the cornerstone on which John Dempster's side built today's impressive away win against a Championship side's youngsters, as the young Stags unbeaten run continued in an impressive fashion at the home of Parkgate FC, where Rotherham United's youth team play their home games.
It was a case of change all round for Mansfield, with several players injured or unavailable, meaning that they had to shuffle their pack, play one or two lads out of position and introduce some new faces to the squad. But it gave Dempster and his assistant Mark Peters the opportunity to run the rule over a few different options in a competitive environment... and none of the lads who were making their first appearances in league action this season were found wanting.
The ever versatile Teddy Bloor started the game in a wide attacking midfield role and he was pivotal to Mansfield's forward play early in the game, as the visitors took the game to their south Yorkshire hosts from the off.
The Millers defence were kept busy in the opening exchanges and had to clear their lines from both Zayn Hakeem and Morgan Ratcliffe after Bloor's passing range and dead ball prowess had created openings, and Lawrence Bilboe, the home side's keeper saved well from Kieran Harrison's goal bound header, after the Stags centre half had been picked out with another cross into the penalty area from Bloor.
Rotherham had some big and strong players in their ranks and having weathered an early storm, they began to find their feet and pushed the Stags back.
But Mansfield defended well as a unit and they caught the opposition on the back foot, when Harrison broke up an attack, intercepted the ball and played a long pass into the path of Hakeem in the Rotherham half, who left the last defender for dead and sprinted forward towards goal. The Stags number 10 thumped the ball past the advancing Millers keeper, only to see it crash agonisingly against the upright, much to the relief of the home side.
The Millers cleared their lines again, when Bloor and Hakeem worked the ball into the box.
The home side enjoyed a spell of possession, but they were forced to play across the pitch, rather than forwards, as the Stags midfield dropped back and absorbed their movement as a first line of defence. To this end Cameron Healey put in a really good 'stand up be be counted' performance in the middle of the park, which saw him having to leave the pitch for some repair work on a bloody nose at one point.
When Rotherham resorted to playing the ball over the resilient visitors, instead of through them, Ratcliffe and Harrison were on hand to mop up the danger.
Mansfield's attacking duo, Tyler Blake and Zayn Hakeem, were enjoying a battle royale with the Millers centre half pairing, who seemingly didn't want to wait until after the game to swap shirts, but it was always only ever competitive and never malicious.
Hakeem wrestled his way (literally) out of his marker's attentions and got his shot away from 12 yards, but Bilboe got his hands to it and the Stags striker was denied again.
But Rotherham countered swiftly and within moments play had switched from one box to the other and Trae Adeyemi was clean through on goal, but the Stags captain Sam Wilson went in bravely at his feet to prevent what had looked like a certain goal.
Tom Marriott was hacked down by Ross Dickinson as he dribbled past the Millers player, with his diminutive stature and close control, Mitchell is difficult to dispossess, so he found himself unceremoniously dumped to the ground several times today.
Of course, though the rough house treatment of Marriott prevented him feeding the ball through to Blake and Hakeem, it is a risque way of defending the final third, when Mansfield have both Louis Danquah and Teddy Bloor in their ranks who can cause a lot of damage from set pieces. The latter stepped forward and forced a great save from Bilboe, who got across to his left and kept the ball out at full stretch.
Rotherham's imposing striker Kudakwashe Muskwe homed in on goal through the right channel, but Danquah dealt calmly with the situation and played the ball away to safety. And then, having had no luck at all with several gilt edged goalscoring opportunities, the Stags took the lead from a bit of a fluke. Tyler Blake's cross from out on the left flank, dipped beneath the crossbar and appeared to cross the line, but amidst the confusion, Gilboe got his hand to the ball and pushed it into the goal to eliminate any doubt as to whether the away side had taken the lead. 0-1
That was nice of him!
Blake almost doubled his tally when Harrison played him in again but Bilboe wasn't in the mood to dish any more favours and he charged off his line to smother the ball.
In a warning to the young Stags of what was to come, Rotherham finished the first half strongly and Wilson thwarted Adeyemi again, while Danquah put in a last ditch challenge to block Alaster Redmayne.
Mansfield started the second half on the front foot, as they had the first, with Hakeem setting Cain Smith up, but Bilboe was on hand to keep the Stags at bay.
The home side then began to up the tempo as they worked their way back into the game, Muskwe went to ground in the box under a challenge from Ratcliffe, but despite appeals from the Millers players and a few worried faces among the Mansfield ranks, the referee waved play on.
Darnelle Bailey-King combined with Redmayne to put the visitors defence under pressure but Charlie Shaw got the ball away. Rotherham came again and Fabian Bailey's knock from out on the right flank was headed down towards the bottom corner of the Stags goal by Muskwe, but Wilson turned the ball around the post at full stretch.
Muskwe was proving to be a thorn in the Mansfield defence's side, but as he tried muscling his way past Ratcliffe, Wilson came off his line to claim the ball.
An equaliser looked almost inevitable at this point... and sure enough it came on 64 minutes, when Muskwe dribbled across the front of the Stags penalty area and unselfishly knocked the ball sideways to Dickinson who drilled the ball home, through a scrum of bodies. 1-1
Rotherham began to look stronger and were picking up a head of steam as the second half moved on. They had the ball in the net again within a minute of drawing level, but the goal was ruled out for an offside infringement.
The Millers goalscorer almost set up Muskwe for a second goal, but Wilson saved again and had to be alert again moments later when Bailey-King found some space and tried his luck from just inside the area.
But having just about survived a Rotherham revival, the Stags got their second wind and Adam Saxton had to clear his lines for the home side as the lively pairing of Hakeem and Blake cut a swathe through the Millers rearguard.
Hakeem once again, who was putting in a shift and a half for the visitors, held off two challenges and laid the ball off to Charlie Shaw, who in turn cued up Cain Smith, who shot was charged down just inside the Millers area.
The home side's defence pushed out in an attempt to spring an offside trap, but Hakeem's lob over their back four, was picked up by Cain Smith who had timed his run to perfection and took the ball round Bilboe before netting the ball from an angle to put the Stags back in front. 1-2
Hakeem had the opportunity to round off his excellent performance with a third Stags goal late on, but having Brandon Potts, recovered to clear his lines at the second attempt after the lively Mansfield frontman had skinned him the first time around.
Bloor played Alistair Smith through as the game wound down to a halt, but Bilboe clattered into him as he belted the ball upfield.
Rotherham's frustration at having been outplayed in the closing stages despite having mounted a comeback, was evident, but the Stags had kept their discipline and focus and had earned three thoroughly deserved points the hard way today.
RESULT: Rotherham United 1 v Mansfield Town U18 2
Next Saturday (12/9/15) the Stags youngsters are away against Scunthorpe United, who have won 3 and lost 1 of their opening 4 games this season.
The game kicks off at 11am.