RESERVES: ROTHERHAM 2-3 STAGS
Reserves report: Rotherham United 2-3 Stags
mansfieldtown.net, Tuesday 30 January 2018
A superb hat-trick from Omari Sterling-James helped Mansfield Town book their place in the Central League Cup final with a 2-1 win over Rotherham United at Roundwood Sports Complex this afternoon.
In a first half which saw little goalmouth action, defender Michael Iheikwe headed the hosts in front on the stroke of half-time.
Immediately after the break, Sterling-James levelled the tie with a tidy finish from the edge of the area.
It was Sterling-James who fired the Stags ahead with a superb strike from 20 yards out, curling the ball into the bottom right corner.
Defender Paul Digby turned into his own net deep into injury time as the game looked to be heading to extra-time.
But Sterling-James added his third of the afternoon, lofting the 'keeper from 20 yards out with the last kick of the match.
The win means Mansfield are into the final of the competition, where they will meet Wigan Athletic.
Stags named a strong squad for the tie, with new loan signing Adam King named in the starting XI.
It was Rotherham who started the game the stronger and in the fifth minute, a cross was floated into the box towards Bobby Olejnik who was able to calmly punch clear. A minute later, midfielder Will Atkinson was forced to block a cross at the expense of a corner, which was comfortably dealt with by Olejnik.
Mansfield's first chance came in the 10th minute when loanee Adam King was teed up on the edge of the area by frontman Lee Angol, but his effort was blocked before Hayden White hit a powerful strike which was parried wide by Rotherham 'keeper Laurence Bilboe.
A cagey first half-an-hour saw little goalmouth action with one piece of action seeing Digby flagged offside after trying to connect with a Sterling-James free-kick in the 24th minute.
Rotherham forward Kuda Muskwe had a half-chance but blasted his effort straight at Olejnik.
In the 34th minute, Angol darted down the left and was given time and space to cut into the box but his shot took a deflection on its way over the crossbar.
Sterling-James had another free-kick and this time decided to go for goal.
From 22 yards out, he lifted the ball over the wall but also narrowly over the bar, brushing the roof of the net.
Muskwe was able to unleash a low cross but Olejnik was alert and able to smother ball at his near post.
At the other end, five minutes before the break midfielder Calum Butcher played in Sterling-James who danced his way past two defenders but his low ball across goal was hooked clear.
Alex Bray was next to force a good save from Olejnik, cutting in from the right before a trying to curl an effort into the top right, but the Stags' 'keeper did well to tip the ball over for a corner.
It was from that corner that the hosts took the lead as centre-half Michael Ihiekwe lost his marker to head home from the cross of Mason Warren. It was the first time that Stags had conceded in the competition this season.
Midfielder Jack Thomas and defender Lewis Gibbens were introduced for the second period, with White and King making way.
After the restart, Stags found themselves immediately level. Sterling-James produced a tidy finish from the edge of the area after clever play from Jimmy Spencer.
Mansfield continued to pressurise with Bilboe denying Butcher by tipping his effort onto the crossbar.
On the hour mark, dangerman Sterling-James found space to strike from 25 yards out but his effort fizzled past the left post.
In the 66th minute, Jason Law replaced skipper Zander Diamond with Digby taking the captain's armband.
With 20 minutes remaining, Mansfield continued to put pressure on the Rotherham defence and ultimately find a winner. Spencer did well to make a connection with Hunt's free-kick but his header floated well over the bar.
In the 75th minute, Sterling-James added his second of the afternoon by curling an effort into the bottom right corner from 20 yards out, beating Bilboe at full stretch; a goal worthy of winning a cup tie.
Mansfield had to withstand some late pressure as a Rotherham corner was floated into the far post but it evaded all Rotherham players before being cleared.
Deep into added-time with a place in the final well within their grasp, Digby turned into his own goal following a Rotherham corner and it looked like the game was going into extra-time.
However, almost directly from the restart, Stags won it with yet another late winner. A long ball forward from young centre-half Gibbens wasn't dealt with by the Millers' defender and Omari Sterling-James nipped in to secure his hat-trick.
He beat Rotherham 'keeper Laurence Bilboe to the ball and neatly lobbed it over him from 12 yards out to book Stags' place in the final.
ROTHERHAM XI: Bilboe, Cummings, Ihieke, Southern-Cooper, Purrington, Taylor (Maguire 46), Wiles, Warren, Bray, Kayode (James 53), Muskwe (Murr 61)
SUBS NOT USED: McMahon, Trialist
STAGS' XI: Olejnik, White (Gibbens 46), Diamond (c) (Law 64), Hunt, Digby, Butcher, Atkinson, King (Thomas 46), Sterling-James, Spencer, Angol
SUBS NOT USED: Wilson, Blake
Raynor lauds character after Millers fight-back
mansfieldtown.net, Tuesday 30 January 2018
Mansfield Town's assistant manager Paul Raynor praised the attitude of the Stags' squad after they booked their place in Central League Cup final with a superb 3-2 victory away to Rotherham United this afternoon.
Millers' defender Michael Ihiekwe had put the hosts ahead on the stroke of half-time but Omari Sterling-James stole the show for the Stags in the second half as he scored all three goals, scoring the winner late in stoppage time.
And after over-seeing a valiant second half fight back, Raynor praised the character of the Stags' players after again being forced to come from behind to win.
"These are the boys that have been on the fringes in recent weeks and they're still going to the end. They're not sulking and they are frustrated because they all want to play.
"They are showing me and the manager that they are desperate to get in there and there were a lot of good performances and a lot of plus points.
"We can go back and look towards Barnet on Saturday."
Former Solihull Moors' man Sterling-James produced a sublime second half hat-trick to seal our place in the final as Stags conceded two sloppy goals from set pieces, and Raynor insists it's important to 'iron out' mistakes such as the Millers' goals.
"It doesn't take the gloss off the win and there are little question marks over any goal you concede but they were particularly two poor goals. And at poor times in the game, particularly the one in the last minute that looks like it's going to end up being a draw.
"We're disappointed [with conceding two goals]. We've highlighted that to the boys in there.
"It's okay at times patting them on the back for good performances but we also need to highlight the mistakes that we make and try and iron them out.
"On the whole that was the only real disappointment in what was a really good performance in many ways."
In addition to the stand-out performance of Sterling-James, Raynor also commended the display of young centre-half Lewis Gibbens, who replaced right-back Hayden White at half-time.
"I don't get a chance to see the young boys too regularly. I saw him [Gibbens] put in a very good performance in the FA Youth Cup against Crystal Palace.
"When we needed to make a change at half-time, we felt that young Lewis would slip in there nicely. I thought he had a good game, so I was pleased with Lewis.
"I was pleased with Jason Law when he got onto the field as well so it was good for the youngsters to get out there. We do have an experienced squad so sometimes they have had to bide their time and wait their turn."
Supporters will be able to watch Paul Raynor's full post-match interview on iFollow Stags on Wednesday.
REPORT - Reserves 2 v 3 Mansfield
Rotherham United’s run in the Central League Cup was ended at the semi-final stage after a narrow 3-2 defeat to Mansfield Town at Roundwood.
The Millers were in front through Michael Ihiekwe’s header but two second half goals from Omari Sterling-James saw the Stags take the lead going into the final stages.
Hayden White then turned Mason Warren’s corner into his own net, only for the visitors to bag a winner when Sterling-James completed his hat-trick with almost the last kick of the game.
The first-half saw very little in terms of goalmouth action but Rotherham ‘keeper Laurence Bilboe called into action early on as he beat away a shot from Hayden White.
With the first-half coming to a close, Sterling-James rippled the roof of the net with a free-kick for the visitors, whilst at the other end Kuda Muskwe’s low shot was smothered at the near post.
Winger Alex Bray was also denied just before the break, before the Millers snatched the lead right on the stroke of the interval. Warren delivered the corner and Ihiekwe got his head onto the ball to divert past Bobby Olejnik.
Just after the break Mansfield equalised when Sterling-James finished with a powerful drive after exchanging passes with Jimmy Spencer.
The Millers then had Bilboe to thank for keeping the game level when he saved expertly from Callum Butcher after tipping his close range effort onto the crossbar.
The game entered the final quarter and the dangerous Sterling-James put the Stags into the lead when his superb curling effort beat Bilboe at full stretch.
With the game drifting into added time, the Millers found a dramatic late leveller when Warren’s corner was turned into his own net by White.
There was still time for one last twist as almost from the restart Mansfield went down the other end to win it when Sterling-James galloped in behind to finish coolly beyond Bilboe.
Rotherham - Bilboe; Cummings, Ihiekwe, Southern-Cooper, Purrington; Taylor (Maguire HT), Wiles, Warren, Bray; Kayode (James 55), Muskwe (Murr 66).
Subs - McMahon, Trialist, Maguire.
Mansfield - Olejnik, White, Diamond, Hunt, Digby, Butcher, Atkinson, King, Sterling-James, Spencer, Angol.
Subs: Wilson, Gibbens, T.Blake, Law, Thomas