EFL U18 Youth Alliance (North)
at Roundwood Sports Complex, Rawmarsh (Parkgate FC)
Rotherham United (0) 1
Morgan Ratcliffe 85 OG
Mansfield Town (1) 2
Cain Smith 17, Nyle Blake 52
More photos from this game, click HERE
George McMahon, Deegan Atherton (Jake Sallemloops 73), Akeem Hinds, Lewis Murr (Trae Adeyemi 82). Jovanni Sterling, J Cee Abraham, Josh Kayode, Tom Maquire, Akeel Francis, Ben Wiles (C) (Jack Osborne), Reece McGinley
Unused subs: Harry Fiddler (GK)
Note* I have no idea whether Rotherham's number 15 was called Jake Sallemloops or not, but having offered their team sheet to several handwriting experts, inc. one who is fluenrt in Sanskrit, that was as near an approximation as we could collectively decipher.
Xavier Sundby, Teddy Bloor, Henri Wilder, Cain Smith, Kieran Harrison (C), Nyle Blake, Cameron Healey, Zayn Hakeem, Jason Law (Morgan Ratcliffe 83), Jake Dumbleton (Tom Marriott 87)
Unused subs - Sam Wilson (GK), Aiden Walker, Ali Smith
Cain Smith, who has been showing some great form and fighting spirit of late, was heavily involved in the opening exchanges, firing narrowly wide inside the opening minute and then created himself with enough space to float a tempting cross in towards Jason Law, that glanced off the Stags forward's head with just George McMahon to beat.
Ben McGinley surged into the Stags area, but Kane Baldwin put in a blocking tackle and recovered his footing quickly to cut out McGinley's angled cross as the loose ball fell to the Millers winger.
The home side tried to force the issue down the left flank once more, but (C) Smith was back helping out his defence at salvaged the situation with a firm but fair challenge that typified his performance today, when he was, without any doubt... pretty fly for a white guy!
Henri Wilder teamed up with Hakeem and (C) Smith, to unlock the Millers back line, forcing Jovanni Sterling to rush his clearance and tee the ball up for Harrison, whose first time shot was well held by McMahon.
But the Stags brushed themselves down and a great passage of flowing, passing football, right across the whole width of the pitch, involving Teddy Bloor, Blake, Dumbleton, (C) Smith, Wilder and Hakeem, released Law on the edge of the area and his inviting sideways knock sat up perfectly for (C) Smith who unleashed the ball past McMahon to give the Stags the lead after seventeen minutes.
The Stags were having the better of things by now, but Rotherham kept dropping hints that they weren't here just to make the numbers up and were more than capable of providing a threat of their own.
Mansfield picked up the pace down the right through Bloor, whose cross to Law was knocked into the path of (C) Smith, who was fouled before he could repeat his earlier strike. Hakeem took responsibility for the free kick, but hooked the ball wide of the bottom of the right hand post.
With further international recognition on the horizon for Hakeem, his growing reputation precedes him around the Youth Alliance now and it would be fair to say that he was being very closely marked today... in fact, intimately perhaps.
McGinley and Lewis Murr both had shots blocked, before the ball fell to Deegan Atherton who forced a great stop out of Sundby with a viscious shot.
Rotherham were adept at moving the ball swiftly from box to box... and not in an overly direct 'long ball' manner either. McMahon drilled a measured pass forward to Wiles' feet and he laid the ball off, first time to Francis, who lashed his effort wide.
Another quick break from their own half by the home side, left the Stags exposed again in first half stoppage time, but Sundby raced from his line to thwart Francis.
HT: Millers Youth 0 v Stags Youth 1
Right from the restart, Hakeem forced a corner off of his marker, Atherton, which Bloor delivered into the Millers six yard box; but one of the home sides obvious strengths, that stood out in this game in particular, was their ability to deal with set pieces and corners, with Abraham and Sterling both putting in a workmanlike shift apiece.
By virtue of his goal and assist today, Cain had provided a 'Brace for Trace'... or two goals for his mum by way of explaining an in joke.
Evidently it isn't only the Millers who can turn defence into attack at the flick of a switch.
But, for whatever reason, the goal was disallowed for something that the referee's assistant had spotted that didn't actually involve Dumbleton himself, because he was clearly onside and had a defender and the goalkeeper stood between him and the goal when he struck.
Dumbleton shrugged off his disappointment and stayed focused and was unlucky to see his shot clear the bar within a minute of his disallowed 'goal'.
But a bounce straight in front of him, saw the Stags centre half steer the ball past his own keeper.
And with five minutes still remaining, the visitors were no longer playing down time in a comfort zone, they were now defending a slender single goal lead..
The Millers forced a corner on the right wing, from which Maguire delivered the ball to meet the run of Sterling, who connected with a thumping header but cleared the crossbar from close range.
In stoppage time, Sundby tipped an audacious attempt on goal by McGinley over the bar and then saved Sterling's header from Maquire's resulting corner.
But even though they had done enough to claim another three points and they probably ought to have won this lively encounter more convincingly, John Dempster's youngsters showed a lot of commitment and fortitude to steer themselves past the post... and that must bode well for the remainder of the season.
FT: Rotherham United U18 1 v Mansfield Town U18 2
The Stags U18's next scheduled match is due to take place at Clipstone FC, at 11AM on Tuesday 24th January 2017, when Lincoln City U18 are the visitors.