Mansfield Town’s under-18s narrowly lost their first match of 2022 1-0 at home to Doncaster, despite dominating the possession at RH Academy.
The Stags’ squad featured a mix of first- and second-year scholars, with the majority of the matchday 18 consisting of under-16 players.
Mansfield created an instant opening in the early exchanges, Oliver Wilson chased down a Rovers’ centre-back and pinched the ball in the attacking third. The Stags’ man raced into the box and shot from a tight angle, but his effort was subsequently blocked.
In the 29th minute, the away side swung a dangerous corner in from the right. Mansfield goalkeeper Theo Avery was on hand to superbly keep the scores level as a Doncaster attacker connected with the set piece and powered a header towards the bottom left corner. Young shot stopper, Avery, sprung across his goal to tip to safety.
Six minutes later, Doncaster took the lead. A central free-kick was again magnifically stopped by the impressive Avery, but the ‘keeper’s wonderful fingertip save bounced off the crossbar and in the direction of a Doncaster attacker to nod into the net to make it 1-0.
After the interval, the Stags looked to unlock the Doncaster defence and level the scoreline. McKeal Abdullah won the ball high up the pitch and darted towards goal. The forward played a sidewards pass to Wilson who shot at goal, but his effort was blocked by a Doncaster defender to deny Mansfield an equaliser.
In the 70th minute, Rovers looked to counter by winning the ball in the Stags’ half. Some quick passing from the away side resulted in an attacker curling an effort towards the Mansfield goal from just inside the box. Avery again nullified the Doncaster attack by making a smart stop to his left.
The Stags’ young guns dominated the possession for the remainder of the half but were unlucky when attempting to penetrate the Doncaster backline. Rovers hung on to seal a narrow 1-0 win at RH Academy.
Mansfield’s next fixture is against Bradford City away from home on Saturday 29 January at 12pm.
Mansfield’s starting XI: Avery, Bouch, Wauchope, Whyle, Maher, Flanagan, Kruszynski, Carter, Deakin, Kokkinos, Wilson
Unused subs: Leech, Abdullah, Bonser, Hamilton, Whelan