Mansfield Town’s under 18s moved to within a point of the Football League Youth Alliance summit with a 1-0 victory over Doncaster Rovers at Rainworth on Saturday.
Striker Nyle Blake found the net two minutes from time to hand the young Stags a vital victory, and they have one game in hand over the two sides above them in the Football League Youth Alliance.
The goalscorer, who normally lines up for Stags’ under 16s, had only travelled to Rainworth to watch his brother Tyler in action, but was drafted into the squad in place of Tyler Johal, who was too unwell to take his place on the substitutes’ bench.
The Stags started with midfielders Cameron Healey, Cain Smith and Drew Gibson across the middle of the park, with Louis Danquah operating down the left flank in support of Tyler Blake and Zayn Hakeem in attack, who had the unenviable task of going toe-to-toe with Doncaster's central defensive pairing of Kevin Mtubi and Reece Fielding.
Mansfield's back four looked solid with Teddy Bloor, Morgan Ratcliffe, Kieran Harrison and Kane Baldwin marshalling the visitors’ attackers well and protecting Adam Bishop to the extent that he had very little to do.
Rovers were restricted to just one chance in the first half, when Joe Pugh blazed the ball high and wide from Josh Braker's cross with the last kick of the first half.
Half-time: Stags 0-0 Rovers
It was Drew Gibson who came closest to breaking the deadlock when his downward header from Danquah's right wing corner was cleared off the line. Two minutes later, the latter popped up on the left-hand side of the area and fired just over after Cain Smith had squared the ball to him from a Bloor cross.
Striker Will Longbottom was looking lively for Rovers as he tried to link up with Joe Pugh, but Ratcliffe produced three strong tackles to break up a succession of attacks, while Harrison and Baldwin were providing back up.
Stags’ forward Tyler Blake had put in a lung-busting shift and he almost set up Devante Reittie when he turned Tyler Walker and crossed, but having just come on from the bench, Reittie’s shot bobbled narrowly wide of the upright.
The Stags mounted another attack and Cain Smith dropped a rasping 20-yard shot just over the bar and it was beginning to look as though the hosts were going to have to settle for a draw.
But right on cue, Nyle Blake came on for his second substitute appearance of the season and he buried an unstoppable effort past James Leverton from Harrison's right-wing throw to win the game.
Full-time: Mansfield Town 1-0 Doncaster Rovers
Mansfield Town: Adam Bishop, Teddy Bloor, Louis Danquah, Kane Baldwin, Morgan Ratchiffe, Kieran Harrison, Drew Gibson (Nyle Blake 85), Cameron Healey (C), Tyler Blake, Cain Smith, Zayn Hakeem (Devante Reittie 78)
Unused subs: Sam Wilson, Charlie Shaw, Tom Marriott
Doncaster Rovers: James Leverton, Jack Turnbull, Michael Carberry, Tyler Walker, Kevin Mbuti, Reece Fielding, Matt Parkin (Will Longbottom 19), Jordan Lindley (C), Joe Pugh, Ryan Wanless (Lloyd Henderson 72), Josh Barker
Unused subs: Cody Prior, James Morgan