Mansfield Town’s under 18s suffered back-to-back Football League Youth Alliance defeats for the first time this season with a 3-1 loss at home to Rotherham United on Saturday.
Midfielder Tom Marriott gave the Stags the lead a couple of minutes before half-time, however Kudakwashe Muskwe grabbed a second half brace and Darnelle Bailey-King added another goal to hand the Millers three points at Brooksby College.
Early on, goalkeeper Laurence Bilboe showed why he is so highly rated with the visitors’ academy setup, when he tipped Tom Marriott's effort over the bar after good work down the right flank by midfielder Cameron Healey and full-back Teddy Bloor.
The Millers’ ‘keeper was soon in action again, taking no risks as he guided Zayn Hakeem's left-wing cross over the bar. Midfielder enforcer Drew Gibson went close from Bloor's corner, but he powered his header over the crossbar.
Shortly afterwards and with the half-time break approaching, Mansfield took the lead in the contest. Defender Charlie Shaw threaded an excellent pass through to striker 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 also came close to netting 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, but the Stags survived.
Half-time: Stags U18 1-0 Millers U18
Rotherham came 'flying out of the blocks' after the restart, but Bailey-King and Ali Redmayne were thwarted by timely challenges from Gibson and captain Kieran Harrison as the Stags cleared the ball.
Keen to respond at the other end, Hakeem saw off challenges from Adam Saxton and Julian Bailey down the left side and laid the ball back to Shaw, who tried to take advantage of the stiff breeze and bend a long-range effort into the top right-hand corner, but the ball cleared the bar.
Hakeem was enjoying his battle with Bailey-King and forced a corner off the Millers’ centre-half, from which Harrison almost gave the home side a two-goal cushion.
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.
The away side were on the front foot and Muskwe claimed two goals for himself inside a four-minute spell. He made the first one for himself with some great control inside the area before slotting into the back of the net, then he directed Ashman's sideways pass into the bottom corner from inside the 18-yard-box for his second.
With the clock ticking towards full-time, Rotherham scrambled Teddy Bloor's stoppage-time corner kick away and countered at pace. Ashman proved his worth again, knocking the ball into the path of Bailey-King who couldn't miss the target from close range to seal the victory for Rotherham.
Full-time: Mansfield Town U18 1-3 Rotherham United U18
Mansfield Town: Sam Wilson, Teddy Bloor, Charlie Shaw, Kane Baldwin, Louis Danquah, Keiran Harrison (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 (Brandon Cotts 45), Trae Adeyemi, Kudakwashe Muskwe (R James 85), Ali Redmayne (Dale Ashman 59), Darnelle Bailey-King
Unused subs: J-Cee Abraham, Harry Fiddler