Stags’ reserves were in action earlier this afternoon, and despite launching a late comeback through Jordan Graham’s well-placed penalty, fell to a 2-1 loss against Rotherham United reserves at Basford United Football Club.
Mansfield found themselves 2-0 down by the 61st minute thanks to goals from Joshua Kayode and Tyrone Lewthwaite, yet were the stronger side throughout, and could have equalised late on through Tyrese Sinclair.
It was Sinclair’s cross towards Paul Anderson that led to the penalty after the latter was brought down, which Graham converted for the Stags’ only goal of the contest.
The Stags started the match on the front foot as midfielder Keaton Ward fired towards goal from just outside the area, yet could not keep his effort below the crossbar.
Alistair Smith looked to have set Graham through on goal minutes later, yet the forward’s heavy touch gave Millers’ ‘keeper Laurence Bilboe a chance to collect the ball just inside the box.
Despite Stags’ strong start, it was Rotherham that opened the scoring through Kayode. A corner was whipped in towards the front post which was met by the forward and flicked home past a helpless Jake Kean.
Going a goal down did not halt Mansfield’s momentum, however, as Graham saw his effort saved after some tricky footwork on the edge of the Rotherham box.
In the 14th minute, Smith picked up the ball in the heart of midfield, and saw his strike flash just wide of the far post after his 20-yard sprint.
Anderson looked to fire in a spectacular half volley when he saw the ball sit up perfectly to strike, yet his powerful effort went high and wide of the upright.
Smith’s deflected effort was the last action of the first-half, and though it looked as if it was floating in, was scooped off the line by a Rotherham defender.
Mansfield began the second period as they competed in the first, and despite Graham rising highest in the area, his header towards goal was comfortably saved by Bilboe.
It was then the turn of Tom Fielding to spearhead a Mansfield attack, as he somehow wriggled from the grasp of two Rotherham defenders to find himself in a crossing position. Unfortunately, the forward’s delivery did not match the exceptional footwork that initially granted him the opportunity.
Wide-man Jason Law’s cross was met by the head of Anderson in the 58th minute, but the midfielder’s glancing effort flashed wide of the far post.
Stags continued to apply pressure as Ward’s free-kick found the head of Aiden Walker, yet the defender was unable to keep his effort towards goal below the bar.
Against the run of play, Rotherham then doubled their lead. Millers’ forward Lewthwaite picked up the ball 30 yards from goal, and was allowed to turn and fire a stunning strike into the top-right corner.
Substitute Iyrwah Gooden looked to get Mansfield back in the game as he stretched to reach Graham’s cross to the back post, yet the forward was inches away from making a connection.
Stags nearly had their goal when Law’s cross was almost inadvertently turned into his own net by a Rotherham defender. Luckily for the visiting side, the ball floated just wide.
Ward forced goalkeeper Bilboe into a smart save following his curling free-kick, and from the resulting corner, substitute Sinclair fired just wide from 20 yards.
As Stags continued to attack Rotherham, they were awarded a penalty when Anderson was brought down in the area following Sinclair’s pinpoint cross. Up stepped Graham, who confidently converted the spot kick to the bottom right corner.
Mansfield thought they had the equaliser when Sinclair prodded towards goal following pinball in the area, and despite strong claims that the ball had crossed the line, referee Lee Freeman waved play on.
This would be the last action of a contest that the Stags will feel disappointed not to have taken anything from. Up next for our reserves is a trip to Doncaster Rovers for another Central League clash on 18 September.
STAGS’ XI: Kean, A. Walker, L. Davies (Sinclair 76’), Anderson, Gibbens, Smith (Bircumshaw 46’), Blake, Ward, Graham, Fielding (Gooden 63’), Law.
UNUSED SUBS: Boyle, Baldwin.
ROTHERHAM XI: Bilboe, Beeden, Hinds, Onnariase, Southern-Cooper, McGinley, Wiles, Carlton, Grattan, Lewthwaite, Kayode.
SUBS: Farrar, Hutchinson, Johnson, Diouf, Peel-Evans.
REFEREE: Lee Freeman