Late equaliser denies Stags a deserved win.2014/15 Football League Youth Alliance - North East Division
Saturday 18 October 2014
Mansfield Town 1 (Fletcher 69)
Rotherham United 1 (Yates 82)
A missed 'sitter' from forward Anthony Dwyer with nine minutes remaining left most who witnessed Saturday lunchtime's Football League Youth Alliance draw with Rotherham United seeing the final result as two points lost, rather than a point gained.
However, it should not take the shine off what was an excellent performance from the young Stags, especially considering academy manager John Ramshaw's team selection options had been massively hindered by a sickness bug, which had swept through his squad during the week, leaving him having to name three 15 year-olds on his team-sheet.
Goalkeepers Adam Bishop and Frazer Hampson were amongst those missing, which meant 15-year-old Sam Wilson took the number one spot, making his Youth Alliance debut.
Also drafted in to make his first start was Jacub Tabreham, with the 15-year-old slotting into the vacant left wing-back position, whilst centre-half Jack Koczalski returned to the line-up, after he missed last weekend's trip to Humberside.
Both teams were looking to bounce back from defeats in the previous weekend's round of fixtures, with the Stags paying the price for a poor first half defensive display, going down 4-1 at league leaders Hull City, whilst the Millers suffered a 3-2 home loss to high-flying Chesterfield.
A quiet first half saw few chances for either side, with the game being dominated by solid defending and offside calls for both teams.
Some good work by Dan Fletcher down the left, saw Dwyer's half-chance clear the crossbar after six minutes, whilst Joe Fitzpatrick's effort from inside the visitors’ penalty area also missed the target, on 33 minutes.
The best chance to open the scoring fell to United on the stroke of half-time, but the promising, young ‘keeper Wilson denied a Rotherham striker, with a great save down low to his left .
Electric right wing-back Tom Slone, who impressed on his full debut the weekend prior, was causing his opponent's defence all sorts of problems once again and in first half stoppage-time, he almost won the Stags a penalty, after being hauled down on the very edge of the area by a Millers defender, but the referee adjudged the contact to be just outside of the box.
Unfortunately, Slone picked up an injury from the challenge and took no further part in the game, as he was substituted for Levi Walker shortly after the re-start.
Mansfield came out and dominated proceedings in the second half and on 69 minutes they found their deserved reward, after Dan Fletcher pounced on a Millers defensive error to slot home his fourth goal of the season.
Another good stop from Wilson, getting his full body behind the ball, kept the Stags in front on 75 minutes and six minutes later, Dwyer somehow then managed to scuff his shot over the Rotherham bar from only a few yards out, after Fletcher's pass had left the United ‘keeper in no-man's land.
Mansfield were made to pay for that miss almost immediately, when Jerry Yates equalised for the visitors from the following attack, ensuring both sides left with a point a piece, but the Stags will be left thinking what might have been had Dwyer managed to put his team 2-0 ahead.
Ramshaw's youngsters now look forward to a free weekend before they return to league action with another home tie, as they prepare to face Doncaster Rovers at the Worksop Van Hire Stadium on Saturday 01 November (11.00am).
Team: Wilson, Slone (Walker), Green, Koczalski, Tabreham (Brownlie), Hempshall, Fitzpatrick, Spencer (c), Fletcher, Dwyer, Blake (Harrison).
Attendance: 60 (approx).