Despite taking an early second half lead and dominating for large parts of the encounter, the Iron Under-18s unfortunately succumbed to a 4-2 home defeat to Rotherham United in the EFL Youth Alliance League on Saturday.

United were handed the first real opportunity of the game in what was a fairly quiet first half at Appleby Frodingham, in a game that exploded into life in the second forty five.

Harrison Poulter did well down the left hand side before being fouled by the Rotherham full back. Cameron Wilson (who played to keep up his game time as part of new Youth Alliance League rules which means teams can play a maximum of three first year professionals in a game) stepped up to take the set piece, fizzing the ball goalwards as a slight deflection saw his effort cannon back of the post in only the second minute of proceedings.

Next it was Harry Lewis involved in search of the game's opener. Deployed in a left wing back role for the Iron, the No 3 received a short corner from Wilson and released a left footed strike that sailed just over the Millers crossbar. 

On 19 minutes, Rotherham had a huge shout for a penalty, with a long goal kick evading the Scunthorpe backline seized upon by the opposition's left winger who claimed to be fouled by Jake Balme in the Iron goal. The referee waved away the visitors' claims. 

With the first half of proceedings then drawing to a close, the Iron were handed arguably the best chance of the half through good work from central midfielder Josh Robertson. Scunthorpe’s No 11 did well to win back possession and then spring a terrific pass through to Jack Moore-Billam, whose left footed shot whizzed just past the post. 

As the second half began, it took the Iron just four minutes to take the lead through the ever influential Lewis. Receiving the ball on the left hand side, the left wing back drove towards the Rotherham penalty area, turning onto his weaker right foot and rifling his shot past the Millers keeper to give the U18 side an early second half lead. 

Just five minutes later, United were handed a great chance to double their advantage through Tyrell Sellars-Fleming. Scunthorpe’s No 9 did terrifically to latch onto a lofted through pass from Ben Franklin, with Sellars-Fleming twisting and turning, bidding to find half a yard in the visitors penalty area. His goal-bound effort was unfortunately blocked by the Rotherham backline.  

On the hour mark, the Iron could have been handed a penalty of their own, with Lewis again causing the opposition full back all kinds of trouble. His one-two with defender Oliver Lobley saw him race through on goal before hitting the deck, claiming for a spot kick. No penalty was given though. 

Rotherham then began to dictate the game and found an equaliser on 65 minutes. Scunthorpe’s backline failed to deal with the visitors' dangerous long throw and the ball fell kindly to the Millers midfielder who found the net with a super strike from 25 yards out. 

Unfortunately two minutes later, the Iron fell behind in what was a hammer blow of two goals in quick succession. Rotherham’s wide man found time and space to deliver a low cross which trickled along the six-yard box and was converted at the back post to hand the visitors the lead for the first time.

Their lead was however short lived, with United’s U18s showing great fight to equalise with just 20 minutes left to play. Wilson skipped past three Rotherham players down the right flank to win his side a free kick, with the set piece played short to Moore-Billam who found Poulter in the area. The in-form Iron forward turned the Rotherham defender before Sellars-Fleming was on hand to lash home the leveller. 

Unfortunately the Millers then struck twice late on to hand the South Yorkshire side all three points. First, Rotherham’s goalkeeper punted a route one-esque clearance that was latched onto by the No 9, with the visitors' left forward then finding half a yard to finish well as his shot just evaded the on looking Balme in the Iron goal.

It was a spirited second half performance for United, with Professional Development Phase Coach Dale Tonge impressed with his side's work on the ball, with positives to take despite the 4-2 defeat. 

"The in-possession football is probably some of the best we’ve played, creating numerous chances. It’s just a little disappointing when you dominate a half of football that much, you leave yourself open to being caught on the counter," he said.

Tonge added: "The boys' mentality was really good coming into this week, so we’ll continue working on those aspects, throughout the coming days. We’ll be looking to build ready for next week’s away trip and hopefully get on the right end of the result."

Next up for the U18’s is an away trip to Lincoln City in the EFL Youth Alliance League, with United looking to bounce back and ensure a positive result while returning to winning ways on the road. 

IRON: Balme; Moore, Young, Lobley; Moore-Billam, Franklin, Lewis, Wilson, Robertson; Sellars-Fleming, Poulter

SUB: Moore-Billam for Cribb (83).

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