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Club News


18 March 2024

Club News


18 March 2024

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Rotherham United Under 18s were edged out by Mansfield Town Under 18s in a closely contested top of the table clash at Graham Solley Sports Development Centre on Friday.

The Millers went into the match just three points behind their opponents, knowing victory would draw them level at the top of the table, but it was the league leaders who put themselves in a commanding position, with goals from Ronnie Kokkinos and McKeal Abdullah giving them a 2-0 lead at the break.

The Academy didn’t give up and found their way back into the contest in the second half when Josh Ayres converted Ben Hatton’s cross, but despite a late onslaught, they were unable to force an equaliser.

First year pros Joel Holvey, Josh Ayres and Ben Hatton were included in the Millers’ starting XI, with U16s player Ben Scothern named at the heart of the defence.

The first chance fell to Stags in the seventh minute, when a long throw caused havoc in the box before the ball eventually fell to Alfie King, who could only hook the ball over the bar under pressure from Harry Roddis.

The away side came even closer just two minutes later when another ball into area created an opportunity for Tyler Harrad who saw his first-time strike cannon back off the post.

It was Rotherham’s turn to go close on 13 minutes, when Ayres used his pace and power to brush off the challenge of a retreating defender before curling an effort towards goal, which he was unlucky to see land on the roof of the net.

And the Millers were made to rue the missed opportunity just two minutes later when Kokkinos was picked out after a flowing team move and finished well with a low effort into the bottom corner to make it 1-0.

Rotherham looked to battle their way back into it and Ayres was once again the dangerman on 30 minutes. This time, he latched onto a long Bailey Hamilton kick and attempted to catch the keeper out with a first-time header, but Anthony Nunez was able to make the save.

The away side still carried a threat at the other end and Hamilton was called into action to deny the dangerous Kokkinos his second when he was played through by Abdullah.

Three minutes later, though, the Stags did find a second and this time it was Abdullah who was picked out. The attacker beat the offside trap – despite protests from retreating Millers defenders – and slotted coolly past Hamilton to double the advantage.

The Under 18s were throwing caution to the wind in an attempt to pull one back for half time and they nearly found a lifeline through the industry of McKenzie Paisley. The midfielder pressed Cormac Maher before forcing the defender into a mistake, before testing the keeper from range.

The visiting side had an opportunity to put further daylight between themselves and the Millers on the stroke of half time Fin Flanagan picked out Olly Taylor with a low cutback, but the attacker could only lift his effort over the bar.


The Millers made two changes at the break with Hayden Blow replacing Hamilton between the sticks, with Reece Wilson also summoned from the bench to take Paisley’s spot as the Millers switched to a front two.

And Wilson very nearly made an instant impact. Hatton showed quick feet to shift away from Callum Johnson before teasing a low cross towards the back post, which just evaded the run of the forward, as well as Ayres.

The Millers continued to press and had their reward on 58 minutes. Hatton was again the architect as he made headway down the right flank before standing a cross up towards the middle of the box where Ayres was waiting. The striker leapt well to meet it before powering a header home past the outreached arm of Nunez.

The Stags almost had their two goal cushion back two minutes later, when Taylor picked out Maher from a corner, forcing Blow into a stop. The chances continued to fall at the both ends, with Wilson the next to go close when he diverted Joel Holvey’s delivery over the bar on 62 minutes.

Rain continued to teem down at Graham Solley Sports Development Centre and Harrad had another opening on 68 minutes when he could only fire wide of the target after being picked out in a pocket of space.

In an end to end encounter, Rotherham again went close when George Giwa could only find the side-netting after his run was picked out by Roddis with 20 minutes remaining. The Millers continued to apply the pressure without creating any telling opportunities until the four minutes from the break.

Joel Holvey’s corner was lifted into a crowd in the six yard box where Nunez rose to try and take possession, but he fumbled the first cross presenting Ayres with the ball at his feet, but the keeper did well to recover and smother the ball.


ACADEMY: Hamilton (Blow 45'), Roddis, Seisay (Shepherd 68'), Holvey, Scothern, Hatton, Ayres, Giwa, Clarke, Grove (Gardner 57'), Paisley (Wilson 45').  

UNUSED: Gordon. 

MANSFIELD TOWN U18: Nunez, Johnson, Bonser, Harrad, Warnaby, Maher, King, Flanagan, Abdullah, Taylor, Kokkinos. 

Pos Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Mansfield Town U18 18 11 3 4 43 20 23 36
2 Burton Albion U18 19 10 1 8 35 33 2 31
3 Rotherham United U18 18 9 3 6 44 39 5 30
4 Hartlepool United U18 18 9 2 7 37 34 3 29
5 Grimsby Town U18 16 7 5 4 38 21 17 26
6 Lincoln City U18 18 8 2 8 44 33 11 26
7 Doncaster Rovers U18 19 7 4 8 30 30 0 25
8 Bradford City U18 16 7 2 7 27 27 0 23
9 Harrogate Town U18 19 6 5 8 27 32 -5 23
10 Huddersfield Town U18 18 3 6 9 25 58 -33 15
11 Notts County U18 17 4 1 12 23 46 -23 13

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