United’s youths came home with a 2-1 win over Rotherham United on Saturday morning.
The academy side has raised the bar for themselves with an incredible first half performance, being described by United’s academy manager Tony Daws as “the best piece of youth team football I’ve seen in a long while”.
The close score line of 2-1 was unreflective of the performance against the Millers as the Scunthorpe boys could’ve quite easily put nine or ten goals past the Millers keeper.
Straight from the first whistle, Iron showed great strength against their opponents, winning the high ball almost always and getting stuck in to the opposition with some commendable challenges.
The Scunthorpe lads showed great enthusiasm for the game but composure was installed by centre-back Jacob Hood on the sixth minute as he brought the ball out of defence, defeating two players and slotting a nice ball into number 11, Reece Mosanya.
Although pressured, Iron managed to maintain possession and, on the eighth minute, Connor Purdue played a slick ball into Kyle Wootton’s feet. Wootton defeated Rotherham’s Max Hallatt and followed with a sharp shot on target.
The home team’s first attempt came just a minute later but United’s goalkeeper Ben Ledger needn’t have panicked as the shot lifted over the bar.
On the 16th minute, the Millers responded with a counter attack fueled by their lightening fast number 7. Full back Jack Dyche and Mosanya worked effectively together to track the right-winger and block the shot.
Wootton and his attacking partner Noel Burdett worked well together playing high up the pitch, often slipping through Rotherham’s back four to carry the ball through to the final third.
Captain Levi Sutton showed his play making ability and swiftly switched a ball into Mosanya’s feet. The winger took the ball up the line before driving a low and accurate ball into the step of Wootton who slotted a first time ball into the back of the Miller’s net.
Many opportunities followed for United, winning corners and free kicks during their attack, however the one that counted occurred in the 21st minute.
Although the away team was leading 1-0, they didn’t become complacent and were essentially untouchable. The level of football displayed by the Iron youngsters was admirable and more chances rolled in.
In the 34th minute Mosanya worked his magic on the wing, defeating two players before pinging the ball into Kyle Wootton who sought out Sutton from central midfield. Sutton released a fierce first time shot at goal from outside the 18-yard line but the shot was saved with a crucial reach from Miller’s keeper, Peter Denton.
As the half time whistle grew closer, the tempo only increased from the visitors. Central midfielders Purdue and Sutton played some lovely one-twos around the opposition, using Burdett and Wootton to create space while driving the ball into the final third. The four worked together excellently and were the foundations of another great chance on goal in the 36th minute but Noel Burdett was unable to secure a second goal for United as Rotherham’s defence were too quick to intercept.
On the 41st minute, Burdett highlighted his visual capability when he executed a superb ball into a faraway Mosanya. Yet again, Mosanya found Wootton’s feet in the box before Wootton skillfully brought the ball onto his back foot before releasing a strike at the keeper.
Minutes before the halftime whistle, Rotherham pursued an attack on United’s goal which results in a yellow card for Reece Mosanya because of a shirt pulling offence. A free kick was given, but Rotherham United claimed no equalizer from the first half.
Scunthorpe youths went into the second half with their heads held high from an unstoppable first half performance with their only focal point being “to be a little bit more clinical when putting the ball away”.
Unfortunately for the away side, the tables soon turned and within the first minute of the second half, the Millers had equalized when forward Mason Warren’s shot sailed over Iron’s keeper. Rotherham had come back from the half time break with a new desire for victory which turned what had been a fairly one sided game into a balanced match.
The first 11 minutes of the second half was dominated by the Rotherham juniors with most decisions going their way, receiving several free kicks just outside of United’s box. Whenever Scunthorpe tried to replicate the finesse they demonstrated in the first half, the Millers ensured difficulty as they relentlessly broke down play.
Right back Riley Baker did a good job of restoring composure to a panicked introduction to the second half as he brought the ball out of defence and laid a well-paced ball into midfield however, the end product was lacking as Mosanya’s cross was blocked.
The 59th minute saw a nasty collision between Baker and the opposition’s winger and resulted in the substitution of Baker (who was struggling to walk on his injured knee) for number 12, Emilio Stothard.
The Iron youths began to settle down again and regained possession in midfield with Purdue demonstrating some great long balls out to Mosanya. On 62 minutes, United sacrificed another good opportunity when Burdett played a decent ball into right-winger Jack Mawson. Mawson closed in, one on one with the keeper and successfully chipped the ball over Denton however; the shot required more power and was subsequently saved by the foot of Daniel Smalley who had done well to track back.
Iron keeper Ben Ledger became more involved in the game, having to come out of his net to defend his goal more often than in the first 45 minutes. The youngsters looked a little limp in response to Rotherham’s newly found high tempo but Captain Levi Sutton demonstrated what he expected from his team. During the 69th minute Sutton put in two consecutive challenges as he chased the ball down and worked hard to reclaim possession.
Sutton’s willingness was soon echoed by his team mates and Purdue paired up with his Captain to create some space in midfield. On the 70th minute a pass was sent past Rotherham’s back four to Burdett whose effort was blocked. Mawson followed the shot up but was unable to find the net.
The 73rd minute saw another chance for Noel Burdett who found himself one on one with the keeper but the placement of the shot was just too easy for Denton’s hands to recover. Frustration set in as opportunities were wasted by United’s attack.
Several corner balls and free kicks were awarded to Scunthorpe but the opportunity to score weren’t taken. Frustration was revealed when Reece Mosanya received a harsh yellow card for kicking the ball away, resulting in a red card, as it was his second bookable offence.
Iron was now down to ten men and the stakes were high. It was down to United’s forwards to deliver, and they did just that. In the 80th minute Noel Burdett played another first-class ball into Kyle Wootton who managed to connect a head to the ball. The power and direction Wootton applied to the crossed ball was perfect and gave Iron the lead they deserved. This marked Kyle's eighth goal in the last six games.
The Scunthorpe lads simply needed to retain their 2-1 lead going into the final 10 minutes of the game. United were put under pressure when the Millers posed a late threat, crossing a ball into Iron’s box. Ledger appeared absent from his goalmouth surrounded by the opposition and it was Sutton who cleared the ball from the danger zone, preventing what could’ve been an undeserved equalizer.
Until the end Scunthorpe pressed the final third and even more chances came their way. The 84th minute saw Burdett show some lovely skill as he brought the ball inside the centre back and had a shot on target that the keeper was lucky to deflect.
The final score ended 2-1 although it’s safe to say the iron youngsters deserved a bag full of goals.
A final substitution for the Iron introduced Matt Stockill into the game and he assisted the rest of the side in maintaining their one goal lead for the remaining five minutes of the game. Rotherham pushed forward but United managed to break them down and gamble on the counter attack.
Afterwards, Academy Manager Tony Daws said: "Our first half performance was the best that I have ever seen from a Scunthorpe United youth team in recent years.
I thought that we were outstanding.
"As a former striker myself, I feel that every time a player goes through on the keeper one v one, the player should score.
"We had quite a few of these one v one situations today and there’s no doubt about it, we need to be more clinical in front of goal and beat the keeper more often.
"It’s something that we will definitely be working on this coming week.
big well done to all the players today for their performance’."