Saturday, 21 January 2017

Rotherham United 1 v Mansfield Town 2 - EFL Youth Alliance

The Rabble
Saturday 21st January 2017
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
Rotherham United:
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.
Mansfield Town:
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
League leaders and reigning champions Mansfield Town, rolled into Rawmarsh, knowing that Burton Albion and Notts County were breathing down their necks in the race for the title, both hoping that John Dempster's young Stags side would drop points against the in form Millers, who approached this game on the back of a three match unbeaten run, that included a draw against the second placed Brewers last week. In the event, Burton's game at Scunthorpe United was postponed and County went down 1-0 at Grimsby Town.
This win, at Parkgate FC's ground, was a real test of the visitors mettle, resilience and desire to keep a grip on their status as top team in this hard fought division... and to that end they certainly weren't found wanting.
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.
Having thwarted Mansfield's lively start, Rotherham built up a head of steam of their own and stretched the visitors defence for several minutes, with Akeel Francis going close to opening the scoring when he charged down Xavier Sundby's clearance, but Kieran Harrison was covering his keeper's back and made a timely interception.
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!
Jake Dumbleton went close to breaking the deadlock twice within the space of a few minutes, when he shot narrowly over from Zayn Hakeem's low cross from out on the left and was then thwarted by McMahon's agility as Nyle Blake picked out the live-wire front man with a measured ball from the right flank.
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.
Francis and Wiles combined for the Millers and the latter picked out Tom Maguire, who had a free shot inside the six yard box, but hooked his shot wide of the upright, with what must count as a real let off for the visitors.
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.
J Cee Abraham, picked out Francis with a long range free kick, but his downward header went wide.
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 miscued a left wing cross into the Stags area, which cannoned back into play off of the woodwork.
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.
Blake cut out a cross from McGinley and then released the ball quickly to set up a Stags counter attack, Hakeem and (C) Smith, squeezed the Rotherham defence and caused them to back off, which gave (C) Smith the opportunity to nudge the ball through to the feet of Blake who had continued his run and, with fifty two minutes on the clock, he fired home from eight yards, despite the efforts of McMahon to double Mansfield's lead.
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.
It looked as if it was all over for Rotherham, when Bloor picked out Law with a long corner toward the back of the Millers area from out on the right, and as Law's shot came back off the post, Dumbleton was on hand to score.
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'.
The Stags were comfortably seeing the game home, as Rotherham's Maguire hit a hopeful ball across the face of Sundby's goal, which Morgan Ratcliffe, just on from the substitutes bench, moved in quickly to deal with.
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.
The Stags youngsters are obviously a scalp that every team in this league now wants to claim and you could clearly see how much Rotherham wanted the result today.
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.