Rovers U18s fell to a narrow defeat in the EFL Youth Alliance League as they were beaten by Rotherham United on the Eco-Power Stadium 3G.
The visitors took the lead early as Josh Eyres' effort was the only goal that seperated the two sides, despite Rovers dominating possession throughout.
The result sees the youth team remain ninth in the north east division of the Youth Alliance as both Charlie Thompson and Jaiden Campbell-Ryce marked their first starts since returning from injury.
The visitors got play underway in DN4 and applied the early pressure in the fixture before making it count at the first time of asking in the fourth minute of the game.
A ball from the Millers keeper was thumped long and a fortunate bounce sat up nicely for towering centre forward Eyres to head over Jacob Bryant and into the back of the net with the assistance of the post for the game defining moment.
Rovers quickly looked for a route back into the game but it was United who found the next chances again.
A free-kick from just outside the box on 11 minutes looked to be curling in from the visitors’ number 10 but Bryant plucked the ball out of the top-right corner.
The very same player had an opportunity from six-yards out in the very next minute as he received an uncontested ball in from the left but a bobble at the last minute saw his effort cannon over the crossbar.
Frank Sinclair’s side then started to make moves of their own on the attacking front as Will Green came within inches of picking out the far corner with a free-kick from the right wing but the search for a goal went on.
Green was again the mastermind in his side’s next attacking move as he drove down the wing and fizzed the ball in towards the centre but Sam Straughan-Brown’s outstretched boot could only steer an effort straight at the keeper.
Rotherham then came close again with a shot from the left wing but it whiskered wide of the top-right corner before they came within inches of goal again.
The Millers winger drove in from the left and as Bryant went to ground the attacker lifted the ball over the keeper but Freddie Allen managed to stop the ball on the line before Kasper Williams smashed clear.
Rovers best chance of the opening period came just before the interval as a set-piece routine between four players saw the ball break to Straughan-Brown but his curling effort would only draw a great save from the goalkeeper as both managers shared a moment of appreciation towards the move.
Clear-cut chances would be a rarity at the start of the second-half and prompted Sinclair to make his first changes of the game as Campbell-Ryce and Thompson made way for Ethan Hodgett and Deshaun Musgrave-Dore respectively.
On 68 minutes the Millers had the ball in the back of the net with their first chance of the half as Eyres headed home again from a cross but the linesman’s flag was raised for offside.
Rovers would then enjoy almost all of the possession from that point on but the visitors’ low-block set up stood firmly in the way throughout.
Straughan-Brown showed good skill to create chances on the right with neat dribbling along the byline and crafted an opportunity of his own shortly after as he pounced on a goalkeeping mistake but his shot lacked power and was dealt with.
Chris Pooley then replaced Oliver Piekarski for the final five minutes of the fixture as Green had another low effort smashed wide but there would be time for one final opportunity.
Deep into stoppage time Green swung a freekick in from the right as Williams rushed in to beat the keeper and head back across goal but the ball rolled agonisingly wide for Rovers.
The hosts continued to push in the final knockings but Rotherham’s early goal proved enough to take all three points back down the M18.
Rovers U18s now face a quick turn around as Frank Sinclair’s side look for a return to winning ways in the EFL Youth Alliance League at Grimsby Town on Tuesday, February 13.