Saturday, 5 March 2016

Mansfield Town 1 v Rotherham United 3 - FLYA (NE)

Saturday 5th March 2016
Football League Youth Alliance (NE)
at Brooksby Melton College
Mansfield Town (1) 1
Tom Marriott 43
Rotherham United (0) 3
Kudakwashe Muskwe 79, 83
Darnelle Bailey-King 90+2
For a Flickr photo group from this game click HERE
For FLYA (NE) table and results click HERE
Mansfield Town:
Sam Wilson, Teddy Bloor, Charlie Shaw, Kane Baldwin, Louis Danquah, Keiran Harrisin (C), Drew Gibson, Cameron Healey, Tyler Blake (Alistair Smith 85), Tom Marriott (Tyler Johal 67), Zayn Hakeem (Devante Reittie 80)
Unused subs - Surafel Behailu, Morgan Ratcliffe
Rotherham United:
Laurence Bilboe, Adam Saxton, Dan Smalley, Ross Dickinson, Julian Bailey, Bradley Peace-MacDonald, Ben Wiley, Trae Adeyemi (Brandon Potts 45), Kudakwashe Muskwe (Revarnelle James 85), Ali Redmayne (Dale Ashman), Darnelle Bailey-King
Unused subs - J-Cee Abraham, Harry Fiddler
It was a close run thing the last time these two sides met, back in September at Parkgate FC, when the Stags claimed a 2-1 win courtesy of goals from Tyler Blake and Cain Smith, who scored either side of a Ross Dickinson strike for the Millers.
Mansfield kicked off this game on the Brooksby College 3G pitch, in third place, just a point off the top spot, with games in hand over both of the teams above them, namely Scunthorpe United and Lincoln City.
Scunthorpe didn't have a game this weekend, while the bitter pill of defeat for John Dempsters youngsters was sweetened somewhat, when news came through that Lincoln had lost at home to Oldham Athletic.
But as the Stags manager himself said after the game "It's all about development, not results".
However, for some teams, though they are obviously nurturing their talent pool, results do matter a hell of a lot, especially against this Mansfield side who have a growing reputation and are now considered to be a very desirable scalp.
Just as Burton Albion had done last week, the Millers worked very hard at restricting the Stags from playing their usual game.
It is all part of the learning curve and these past couple of weeks have shown that talent alone doesn't win football matches, competitiveness and being big and strong in the tackle are attributes that also get results. It's all about getting the balance right.
But development and learning are what it's all about for this age group... and sometimes, it is more beneficial to lose games and suffer a few knocks along the way, as long as you're taking in everything that happened and more importantly why it's happened on board.
Steamrollering your way to the title via a run of easy wins in a lesser league won't teach teenage prospects very much, as they prepare to step up to the next level, which is why the FLYA serves its purpose so well.
All of the teams in this division have a spine of quality running through them, likewise any of them can pull off a win against any other on their day.
Just like Rotherham did this Saturday lunchtime.
The visitors had several 'enforcers' in their team who stuck determinedly to their respective tasks.
But though the Stags have a few players of their own out on the park who have leadership attributes of their own, not least Keiran Harrison, they missed that extra element of bite that Cain Smith gives them in the middle of the park in his absence today due to illness. Cameron Healey certainly had to take a few knocks for the team in central midfield today.
The personal duel between Julian Bailey and Zayn Hakeem, was a test of the Stags first team fringe players mettle today, especially when the Millers right back joined forces with his centre half, but Zayn stood up well against some of the more physical stuff and once again showed that he is capable of withstanding the kind of close attention he'd expect to face at when he moves up a grade.
Laurence Bilboe showed why he is so highly rated with the visitors academy set up, when he tipped Tom Marriott's effort over the bar after good work down the right flank by Cameron Healey and Teddy Bloor.
The Millers keeper was soon in action again, taking no risks as he guided Hakeem's left wing cross over the bar. Drew Gibson went close from Bloor's corner, but he powered his header over the bar.
Bloor tried his luck with a twenty yard free kick, but couldn't keep the ball on target as the wind picked up towards the end Mansfield were defending.
Kuda Muskwe and Adam Saxton got in each others way as Rotherham came close to opening the scoring, with the latter prodding the ball wide as they both attempted to shoot.
Back at other end, Charlie Shaw threaded an excellent pass through to Tyler Blake, who was fouled on the edge of the area,  but the loose ball fell to Marriott who had the presence of mind to steer it into the back of the net, as the referee played the advantage.
Marriott almost added a second before the break, when Shaw knocked Hakeem's cross into his path, but the ball skimmed past the upright.
Although Mansfield certainly deserved to be going in a goal ahead at the break, Rotherham showed that this game was far from over as they forced three corners in first half stoppage time.
HT: Stags U18 1 v Millers U18 0
As the referee left the pitch at half time, he replied to a player who was admonishing him: "Look it's not a creche ot there, I don't have a bag with twenty two dummies in it, play the game!"
He made me chuckle... and looked very dapper in his pink ensemble.
Rotherham came flying out of the blocks after the restart but Darnelle Bailey-King and Ali Redmayne, were thwarted by timely challenges from Gibson and Harrison as the Stags cleared their lines.
Blake dispossessed Bailey and sprinted towards the visitors goal, but Saxton caught his heel as he was about to shoot and the Millers snuffed out the danger as the referee waved away the appeals for a penalty.
Muskwe made himself some space to shoot but chipped the ball onto Sam Wilson's crossbar.
Hakeem saw off challenges from Saxton and Bailey down the left flank and laid the ball back to Shaw, who took advantage of the stiff breeze and tried to bend a long range effort into the top right hand corner, alas the ball cleared the bar.
Hakeem was enjoying his ongoing run in with Bailey and forced a corner off the Millers centre half, from which Harrison almost gave the home side a two goal cushion.
Rotherham resorted to fouling Hakeem to stop him as he rode two challenges in full flight and Tyler Johal dropped the resulting free kick just wide of the goal.
Louis Danquah looked comfortable playing out of position, while Kane Baldwin fitted in well alongside Harrison and he showed up on the left wing as Mansfield attacked again, crossing the ball to Gibson, who couldn't quite provide the final touch for Hakeem and Shaw.
Up until this point, although they were only the one goal in front, the Stags never looked in any danger of relinquishing their lead, but the introduction of Dale Ashman in an attacking midfield role had given the Millers a new dimension going forward.
Ben Wiley left two defenders in his wake but shot wide.
Bailey-King cut in from the right flank and unleashed a crashing shot, but Sam Wilson thwarted him.
The Millers were on the front foot now and Muskwe claimed two goals for himself inside a four minute spell, making the first one for himself with some great control inside the area and directing home Ashman's sideways pass inside the area for his second.
Brandon Cotts knock over the defence put Muskwe through again, but Harrison nicked the ball from him with a brave challenge.
Danquah and Shaw were up helping out the attack as the Stags pushed for a late equaliser and Bilboe dropped the ball and Conceded a corner from Devante Reittie's shot from Shaw's through ball. Rotherham scrambled Bloor's stoppage time flag kick away and countered at pace and Ashman proved his worth again, knocking the ball into the path of Bailey-King who couldn't miss the target from that range.
FT: Mansfield Town U18 1 v Rotherham United U18 3
What a complete turnaround for the Millers, who looked to be on the ropes and well beaten for the opening hour or so. I hope there first team do a similar job at Hillsborough this afternoon.
The Stags Under 18 team will be hoping for a return to winning ways when they face Doncaster Rovers next Saturday at 11AM at Kirklington Road, the home of Rainworth MWFC.