Mansfield Town’s under 18s were held to a 1-1 draw by Doncaster Rovers on Saturday in their first fixture of the New Year.
Rovers showed their attacking intentions first when Matt Overton broke away on the left flank and crossed to Lloyd Henderson, who crashed the ball against the crossbar from fifteen yards out.
Danny Amos was the next visiting player to deliver the ball in from the left, but Stags’ skipper Morgan Ratcliffe was on hand to head it away from danger.
Winger Nyle Blake showed a burst of pace and darted forward through the left channel, but found himself outnumbered by four visiting players and he was unable to take them all on.
Ratcliffe hooked the ball clear from virtually under his own crossbar after goalkeeper Xavier Sundby had missed with an attempted punch to clear Keegan Townrow's free-kick away.
But it proved to be third time unlucky for the Stags’ captain. He attempted to clear Will Longbottom's cross away in the 13th minute, but only managed to divert the ball into his own goal as it bounced unkindly and ricocheted off his shin.
With Stags on the back foot after conceding that early goal, Doncaster probed for an opening on the left flank yet again and having made an overlapping run, Amos hooked the ball towards Jacob Fletcher, who lashed his shot over the bar.
But Fletcher atoned for his miss at the other end of the pitch moments later, when he managed to get in between Nyle Blake and winger Tom Marriott's threaded pass and shielded the ball back to his keeper Louis Jones.
Mansfield's striker Zayn Hakeem was having his every move shadowed by Reece Fielding, a centre-half who has played against the Stags’ first team for Rovers in this season's Checkatrade Trophy.
In a mix-up that typified Mansfield's first half performance, Hakeem and Blake made a complete mess of completing a short corner routine and Tyler Walker comfortably cleared any apparent danger away.
Midfielder Cain Smith was relishing the battle in the middle of the park and was the Stags’ stand-out player, filling in well in his own position and that of Cameron Healey, who was absent from the game through illness.
Defender Kieran Harrison spotted the Rovers’ defence pushing up the field and lobbed the ball over them for Hakeem to run on to, but having shaken off the attentions of Amos, the Antigua and Barbuda under 20 international could only miscue his shot wide instead of getting any real power behind it.
Cain Smith knocked the ball wide to Bloor on the right, who exchanged passes with Blake before crossing the ball towards Hakeem, but Jones had read the situation well and came off of his line to collect the ball.
The former West Brom academy man was taking hold of the game by the scruff of its neck and he chipped a pass towards Hakeem who headed it towards Blake on the wing and sprinted forward to meet the return pass, but Jones showed good positioning again and made a catch.
Just before half-time, the Stags had Kane Baldwin to thank for denying Rovers a second goal, when he managed to get his foot to a deflected shot from Amos and steer it away from the goal.
Half-time: Stags 0-1 Rovers
Striker Jacob Dumbleton came off the bench at half-time and almost made an immediate impact.
He showed a great touch on the left wing to take him past Walker before knocking the ball across the face of Rovers’ goal, where Fielding hooked the ball away to Harrison, but he could only blaze his shot wide of the left-hand post.
Hakeem also took on Walker and dribbled past the frustrated full-back but he ran straight into Townrow and lost the ball.
Attacking midfielder Alistair Smith dug the ball out of a crowd of players, advanced forward and played the ball out to Dumbleton on the left and his first time delivery towards the six-yard box was scrambled behind by a combination of Walker and Jones.
Down the other end, Sundby only got fingertips to the ball at the last moment, but saved well from Overton who muscled his way past Ratcliffe.
Bloor was trying to unleash the Stags’ firepower with a range of free kicks and long passes into the Rovers’ penalty area and in the 58th-minute, one of his dipping balls was diverted past Jones by Walker as he tried to head the ball wide, but found the net to chalk up the second own goal of the game.
Attacker Jason Law entered the fray to add to the Stags’ attacking options, as the Rovers defence started to find themselves with a few problems to solve.
Bloor put a left-wing corner onto the head of Hakeem, but he headed wide of the target.
Building the pressure, Harrison powered straight through the centre of midfield and launched a well-hit shot towards goal, which Fielding blocked.
Law and Harrison combined to put the Stags’ third substitute, striker Devante Reittie through on the right-hand side of the Doncaster area and though the angle was tight, he got his shot away, but the ball took a deflection and went wide.
Having withstood a ten-minute battering, Rovers broke forward with Longbottom and he escaped a couple of challenges during his 20-yard run, before forcing a good reflex save from Sundby, who turned the ball over at full stretch.
Amos picked out Henderson with his flag kick, but the Rovers’ number nine put the ball wide.
Midfielder Cain Smith was still purring as the clock ticked down towards full-time, he won a fair but firm tackle before spraying a pass to Reittie, whose stinging shot flew wide via a deflection from Josh Barker.
Jones wandered briefly off his line and was almost undone by Cain Smith’s scooped effort which bounced on the line before the fortunate keeper managed to push the ball away.
Hakeem and Cain Smith linked to set up Law with a shot, but the ball dropped wide of the post.
In stoppage time, the Stags had Sundby to thank for holding on to their hard-earned point, when he instinctively got his hand to a lob from Amos and kept out James Morris from close range as Rovers finished the game with a flourish.
Full-time: Stags 1-1 Rovers
Stags’ XI: Sundby, Bloor, Baldwin, C.Smith, Ratcliffe (C), Harrison, Wilder, A.Smith (Law 60), Hakeem, Marriott (Dumbleton 46), Blake (Reittie 69)
Unused subs: Walker, Behailu
Doncaster XI: Jones, Walker, Amos, Morgan (Prior 85), Barker (C), Fielding, Townrow (Foulkes 62), Fletcher, Henderson (Scattergood 85), Longbottom, Overton (Morris 77)
Unused sub: Leverton (GK)