Thursday, 28 April 2016

FORTHCOMING GAMES - THE66POW UPDATED TOUR SCHEDULE 2015-16

FORTHCOMING GAMES
THE66POW ON TOUR 2015-16
Updated 19:00 Thursday 28th April 2016
All travel plans are subject to late and unannounced alterations.
Sat 30 Apr - Grimsby Town  v Mansfield Town - FLYA - 11AM
Sat 30 Apr - Bottesford Town v AFC Emley _ NCEL Play Off Final - 3pm
Mon 2 May - Glapwell v Askern - CMFL (North) - 3pm
Tue 3 May - Pontefract Collieries v Handsworth Parramore - NCEL Prem - 7.45pm
Wed 4 May - Thorne Colliery v Phoenix FC - CMFL (North) - 7pm
Thu 5 May - Scunthorpe United v Doncaster Rovers - FLYA (NE) - 6.30pm
Sat 7 May - Mansfield Town v Cambridge United - SkyBet L2 - 3pm
Tue 10 May - Basford United v Clipstone - Notts Senior Cup Final - at Mansfield Town FC
Sat 14 May - NCEL League Cup Final - 3pm - at Garforth Town FC
Sun 22nd May - England v Turkey - Friendly International - 5.30pm - at Manchester City
Fri 27 May - England v Australia - Friendly International - 7.45pm - at Sunderland AFC
The England v Australia match at the Stadium of Light on 27.5.16 will be the final game that I attend this season, after which time this blog will lay dormant for a while.
But I'll attempt to pick up the pieces where I left off, or thereabouts, sometime during the pre-season friendlies for 2016-17.

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Bottesford Town 2 v Hallam FC 0 - NCEL Div 1 Play Off SF

Wednesday 27th April 2016
Toolstation NCEL Division 1 Play Off Semi Final
at Birch Park, Ontario Road, Bottesford
Bottesford Town (0) 2
Wayne Graves 72, 85
Hallam FC (0) 0
Admission £5. Programme £1. Attendance 275
According to the club's records in the programme, the highest ever attendance at Bottesford was 204, who attended a game v Scarborough in September 2008.
Which doubtless means that the Poachers will now smash that record twice this week.
Bottesford Town:
Leigh Herrick, Danny Gibbons, Jack Cross, Lee Ridley, Tom Johnson, Terry Barwick, Tom Spall, Martin Pembleton, Danny Boulton, Josh Nichol, Wayne Graves
Subs - Craig Bridge, Luke Robinson, Steve Ridley, Ryan Short, Matt Steeper
Hallam FC:
Dave Darwent, Elliott Simpson, Micah Bishop, Simon Mirfin, Scott Lowe, Tim Whittaker, James Reed, James Lipka, Michael Blythen, Steve Brammer, Ted Phillips
Subs - Max Pemberton, Tom Nolan, Harry Bamforth, Danny Mulooly, Connor Chappell
Bottesford Town set up a play off final on their home pitch v AFC Emley in three days time, by virtue of a brace of second half goals from Wayne Graves which he netted shortly an outstanding save by Leigh Herrick had kept Michael Blythen's well struck free kick from going in by the foot of the post, at a point in the game when Hallam had been getting on top of things for a while.
The Poachers had finished the season two days ago, in third place, ten points clear of Ryan Hindley's side, but that kind of thing goes out of the window in these one off winner takes all games.
Personally, although people have mixed opinions on the merits of a couple of play off games deciding the outcome of nine whole months of sweat and toil, I personally think they are a good thing by virtue of creating sustaining interest until the very end of the season, while generating a much needed cash boost for the competing clubs, who would otherwise get no money coming in through the turnstiles for three whole months.

Prior to kick off, there was an immaculately observed minutes silence for Josh Catterall, a twenty year old who worked with Bottesford Town's Under 16 team, before he tragically lost his life on Friday.
Rest in peace Josh
Michael Blythen had the first chance of the game, but he uncharacteristically drilled his shot well wide of the target.
Wayne Graves got the better of Tim Whittaker and laid the ball sideways across the face of the Hallam goal, but Dave Darwent pounced and smothered the ball at Danny Boulton's feet.
Blythen had the ball in the net for the visitors as he tangled with Jack Cross, nudged the ball forward and finished from just inside the area, but the referee decreed that Cross had been fouled and the goal was ruled out.
It was one of those 50/50 decisions that would be viewed completely differently by the respective followers of each club, but from my position of complete neutrality, I can categorically say, without fear of contradiction, that it was definitely one that I wouldn't have wanted to call.
Steve Brammer cut into the Poachers area from out on the right flank and his cross cum shot deflected wide of the goal and Leigh Herrick did well to keep the ball from going out for a corner.
Brammer was penalised for a hand ball as he jumped to clear the ball away from outside the Hallam goal area, but Terry Barwick drilled the ball straight at the visitors defensive wall.
The Countrymen attacked again through Brammer who picked out James Lipka whose shot was saved and Ted Phillips cleared Herrick's crossbar from the rebound.
The game moved back into Hallam's half from Herrick's goal kick and Josh Nichol tried his luck from 25 yards, but he hit his speculative effort way too high and the ball disappeared harmlessly into the car park.
Whittaker stopped Boulton in full flow with an excellently timed slide tackle... somebody was bound to try one on the sticky wicket, that had suffered a real downpour of rain, sleat and snow in the build up to the game. Luckily we'd checked the forecast and watched a 'four seasons in one day' demonstration of rapidly changing weather conditions, through the window of the nearby Dolphin public house, while waiting for the clubs to confirm that the late pitch inspection had been successfully passed.
Brammer was having a personal one versus one with Danny Gibbons, who battled to clear the ball from the Hallam playmaker and finally got it away at the third attempt.
On the stroke of half time, Simon Mirfin conceded a corner, which Cross swung dangerously into the visitors goalmouth, but as the ball took an awkward bounce, Darwent clutched it to his chest, with Nichol homing in.
HT: Bottesford Town 0 v Hallam FC 0
Hallam came flying out of the blocks at the start of the second half, using Phillips as an outlet on the left wing.
The visitors wide man was thwarted by Gibbons, but moments later he was back and beat the defender, forcing Herrick to advance from his goal to salvage the situation.
Micah Bishop's left wing cross found Whittaker, but he headed over from close range.
Herrick was in the thick of the action, when Mirfin shot straight at him and shortly afterwards the experienced keeper had to intercept a through ball from Lipka that had left Bottesford's defence flat footed.
It's a good job that these railway welders don't do anything all day and conserve their energy for playing in goal at night, isn't it!?
Terry Barwick (who'd have thought it!?), conceded a free kick 15 yards from the Poachers goal.
Herrick was slightly off centre to the left of his goal, when Blythen delivered a perfectly flighted free kick towards the opposite bottom corner, but Herrick covered the ground in a flash and pulled off a worldly to keep the ball out. James Reed tried to steer the loose ball back across the face of goal, but it was cleared for a corner. Had Blythen's free kick have gone in, with Bottesford weathering a bit of a storm, tonight's final income could've have been very different. Well. slightly different anyway, given that there were only two options, but you get my drift. That particular save was just as important as either goal.
Bottesford were stung into action by their close call and snatched the lesad from their next attack, when Tom Spall broke away on the right and drilled a low cross into the Hallam goalmouth, from which Boulton took a slight touch to divert it to Wayne Graves who buried the ball past Darwent with an emphatic shot.
Hallam tried opening up the Bottesford defence with a long ball, straight down the middle that was flicked on by the evergreen Scott Lowe, but Herrick was in no mood to surrender his clean sheet and he puched the ball away to safety.
Graves came close to grabbing a second goal for the home side, but Drwent was alert to his threat and grabbed the ball out of the air.
But in the 82nd minute, nobody was aware of what Graves was about to attempt, when he thumped an out of the blue long range shot, that found it's way into the back of the net via Darwent's outstretched gloves.
I heard somebody say "Goalkeeper error!" but that was disingenuous to both players, one had scored a great goal out of nothing, the other had bust a gut to prevent it.
In stoppage time, Graves could've claimed his hat trick but he leaned back and propelled his shot over thefence and onto the adjacent junior training pitches.
The referee blew for full time and Bottesford had turned a backs to the wall opening 20 minutes or so of the second half, when they'd had their keeper to thank for keeping them in the game, into a winning formula.
FT: Bottesford Town 2 v Hallam 0
So, the Poachers will now face AFC Emley at Birch Park on Saturday, in the play off final, while Hallam can take consolation from the fact that they have obviously got enough quality players in their ranks to have another tilt at promotion next season.
Final word must go to the Hallam Ultras, a young body of fans who vocally got behind the south Yorkshire side all night and were magnanimous enough to give the victors a great reception at the end of the night too.

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

AFC Emley 1 v Penistone Church 0 - NCEL Div 1 Play Off SF

Tuesday 26th April 2016
Toolstation NCEL Division 1 Play Off Semi Final
at the Fantastic Media Welfare Ground
AFC Emley (0) 1
Kieran Ryan 87
Penistone Church (0) 0
Admission £4.50. Programme £1.50. Attendance 463
463 people made their way along the narrow winding lanes, to this picturesque rural location (Emley has a population of just 1,867) up in 'them there hills', to see AFC Emley and Penistone Church go head to head for a place in this weekend's NCEL Division 1 play off final, against either Bottesford Town or Hallam, who play each other tomorrow night in their semi final.
With so much at stake, the game had a nervy edge to it at times, but nonetheless, both sides put on a great spectacle for all of those who'd turned out at the Pewits three sided ground, that they share with Emley Clarence Cricket Club.
The game was as tight as the final scoreline suggests and seemed to be heading for extra time, until the home side scored the only goal of the night inside the final three minutes.
The visitors had shaded the first half of the game possession wise and by virtue of their slightly higher goal scoring opportunities count, but Emley turned those statistics on their head after the break as the pendulum swung marginally towards the Upper Lane based team.
The respective managers of these two sides: Darren Hepworth and Ian Richards have a very similar approach to playing the game in the correct manner, in fact I would go as far as to say that 'Church' blew me away with quick movement and attacking prowess when I last saw them play at Rossington Main earlier in the season. But there were times tonight, when both clubs, with their similar strengths, cancelled each other out as they locked horns.
Of course, Emley have the mindbogglingly prolific strike Ash Flynn in their ranks, who went into tonight's game with a quite staggering total of 73 goals under his belt for the season, but tonight Tom Cadzow made a real fist of keeping a watchful on him, most of the time.
Ollie Fearon came close to opening the scoring (twice) for Penistone, with his second attempt, a header from Ash Ellis' right wing cross dropping agonizingly close to the left hand upright of Adam Lawlor's goal.
Kieran Ryan picked out Flynn with a delivery into the area, but the Church doors were closed quickly by the ever attentive Cadzow who headed the ball away to safety.
Tom Brennan proved to be a tower of strength at the other end as he intercepted the ball as Fearon attacked the Emley goal in tandem with Steve Kenworthy.
The home side regrouped and Ryan played the ball into the path of Jordan Townsend, who tried to lob Adam Rhodes from fifteen yards, but cleared the crossbar with his effort.
The game continued in it's end to end vein as Fearon broke clear in the goal area, but as he lined up his shot, Sam Jerome arrived just in the nick of time to whack the ball away from the danger zone.
Ryan slipped the ball to Craig Billington on the left hand side of Penistone's eighteen yard box, but when his ball into the mix found its way through to Townsend, he was forced into rushing his shot by the close attention of Brennan and he scuffed his effort off target.
Michael Tunnacliffe, the Pewits captain, tried to release Flynn with a long pass down the middle, but Rhodes punched the ball clear from off of the well marshaled strikers head before he could get a touch.
The crowd held their collective breath as Iwan Heeley delivered a teasing free kick deep into the Penistone area that Billington flicked into the path of Flynn, who with the goal at his mercy skied it over the bar and into the car park.
The visitors pushed forward again and it was squeaky bum time for Emley, as Jerome made a real mess of trying to clear a bouncing ball that dropped into the path of Kenworthy, but as the Church striker tried to bring it under control, Lawlor raced from his line and held on for grim life and the heart fluttering moment had gone.
HT: AFC Emley 0 v Penistone Church 0
At half time as our Mansfield Alliance party, made up of a delegation from both AFC Mansfield and the Stags, wrapped up against the elements; with the sun plummeting behind the stand and temperature dropping rapidly, I spotted a local wearing shorts and a t-shirt, kinnel!
I made a mental note not to make eye contact with him. Hard as nails or what!?
The tempo of the game picked up after the interval, but the players were probably running about more to try and keep warm.
Billington found himself unmarked early in the second half, but nodded the ball wide and Penistone were relieved to see the ball clear their crossbar twice in the space of a few minutes, when Rhodes turned Flynn's effort over and Jerome powered a header over with the Church keeper beaten all ends up.
Ash Ellis was unlucky to see the ball roll past the post after he'd picked up a cross from Danny Joynes and seen off a tackle.
Heeley pushed up from his right back berth and when Ryan met his cross with a thumping header it looked as though the deadlock had been broken, but the ball crashed back off the crossbar and Billington's close range strike from the rebound hit a Church defender on the line.
"Me and my shadow!"
Fearon, who put in a indefatigable night's work for the Church cause, hit a blistering long range drive that Lawlor did well to reach and tip away from the top corner of his goal.
Joynes and Fearon were battling to get into the home side's area from out on the left flank as the clock ticked down and an extra thirty minutes looked to be on the cards.
But then, Jordan Coduri adopted the guise of a shock troop and sprinted down the left flank. His pace took him past three Penistone players and his cross from the dead ball line found Ryan, who turned and cracked a great finish past Rhodes to give Emley the lead.
The late strike set up a grandstand finish and Penistone were unlucky when Sam Jerome cleared Lewis Dickinson's angled shot off the line and the visitors misery was compounded when Joynes netted what he thought was a dramatic late equaliser from Dickinson's cross, inside the final minute, but the goal was ruled out for offside... ouch!
FT: AFC Emley 1 v Penistone Church 0
All told, a great advert for NCEL Division 1 football, that could have gone either way. 
It was a real shame that either side had to lose.
Both teams left the pitch in turn to thoroughly warranted generous applause.
Penistone Church will be gutted... but they also should be very proud of their efforts.
AFC Emley will now await the outcome of tomorrow night's second semi final at Birch Park to see who they will face in Saturday's make or break grand finale.
See you all at Bottesford in 24 hours time :-)

Monday, 25 April 2016

Bottesford Town 3 v Dronfield Town 1 - NCEL Div 1

Monday 25th April 2016
Toolstation NCEL Division 1
at Birch Park
Bottesford Town (0) 3
Craig Bridge 74
Paul Goodhand 83 pen
Jonathan O'Callaghan 89
Dronfield Town (0) 1
Callum Mawbey 60
Admission £5. Prtogramme £1. Attendance 47
Bottesford Town:
Aaron Busby, Ollie Donald, Steve Ridley, Andy Smith, Tom Johnson, Paul Goodhand, Jack Harrison, Luke Robinson, Craig Bridge, Jon O'Callaghan, Luke Boden
Subs - Danny Gibbons, Josh Nichol, Jack Cross, Leigh Herrick (GK)
Dronfield Town:
Steven Booth, Ash Morley, Sam Fisher, Alex Mosley, Jack Hague, Matt Darlow, Sam Bebbington, Tom Fairweather, Nick Mulgrew, Callum Mawbey, Danny Hoyalnd
Subs - Jack Willis, Ferdi Celic
Tonight's 3-1 win meant that the third placed Poachers finished the season on 82 points, as they squeezed in this rearranged final league game of the season, prior to Wednesday night's play off game against Hallam FC at Birch Park.
Sadly, everyone's favourite Tourettes inflicted goalkeeper Leigh Herrick wasn't playing for Bottesford tonight, but Aaron Busby put in a decent shift between the sticks for John Corbett's side and at times he really had to be on his toes against Dronfield, who didn't look like a bottom half of the table team tonight.
Luke Robinson created the first chance of the night when he threaded a pass in front of Jack Harrison's blind side run into the Dronfield area, but the Poachers number 7 side footed the ball wide of the right hand post.
Callum Mawbey overhit a cross from out on the left, but Tom Fairweather scampered after the loose ball and played it across the face of Bottesford's goal to where Ollie Donald hooked the ball away.
Donald's clearance was chased down by Mawbey who delivered a great ball to the back stick and Sam Bebbington bundled the ball into the back of the net, as well as Busby, who stayed down and required some treatment before he could carry on.
That kind of thing might've been allowed pre World War 2, but tonight the referee Neil Mundy was having none of it and the straight talking match official let it be known why in booming tones that probably caused the kids who were playing a game at Appleby Frodingham tonight, stand bolt upright and pay attention.
Thankfully Busby was okay to carry on once he'd had a cold sponge slapped in his face, a whiff of the smelling salts... or similar, and the game restarted with the sides still level pegging at 0-0
Having seen Mawbey break free twice in the build up to the disallowed goal, Tom Johnson attached himself to the Dronfield front man like an ultra possessive Siamese twin for the remainder of the first half.
Eventually Mawbey did lose his new shadow's attention by dropping out wide onto the right, from where he put in a burst of pace and swung the ball across the face of Busby's goal, where it ran through as far as Sam Bebbington whose sideways knock back into the six yardbox was nudged wide of the left hand post by Danny Hoyland.
HT: Bottesford 0 v Dronfield Town 0
Both teams made changes during the interval and after a slight delay while Johnson was being surgically removed from Mawbey, the second half got under way.
Jack Hague, the visitors captain planted a long free kick into the Bottesford area but Busby was quick to react to Ash Morley's flick on and the first attack after the restart came to nothing.
Morley was involved again shortly afterwards, when Jon O'Callaghan reacted too slowly to Craig Bridge's right wing cross and the visitors right back hooked the ball away before it reached Luke Boden at the back stick.
Just after the hour, Boden saw off the attentions of Morley with a (Johan) Cruyff turn, but then gave the ball away with a (Jodi) Cruyff pass and from their quick counter attack, Dronfield took the lead when Mawbey, sans the presence of Johnson, who was being rested for Wednesday night's game after a sterling forty five minutes worth of effort, crashed an angled shot past Busby from 15 yards.
Dronfield almost doubled their lead two minutes later when Sam Bebbington was fouled out on the wing by Ridley, but Morley, who was popping up all over the pitch, shot narrowly wide from Boden's free kick.
Substitute Craig Willis picked out Bebbington with a well weighted cross and Busby did well to get down to his right and turn the ball round the post. Ridley cleared Boden's corner kick to earn the home side some respite and they began to build up a head of steam of their own.
Bottesford forced a corner as they pushed forward, but Steven Booth got up above everyone and punched the ball away, but the home side regained possession and Boden threaded a defence splitting ball to Craig Bridge, whose close range shot was well stopped by Booth, as the Poachers number 9 appeared to tweak his hamstring as he shot.
Moments later the Boden/Bridge combination worked well again for John Corbett's side and when the former picked out the latter with a precision pass into a crowded goalmouth, Bridge turned one way, then the other, got a sight of goal and placed the ball past Booth into the back of the net.
With seven minutes to go, Bottesford were pushing for a winning goal and it came from the penalty spot after a frantic moment of action in front of the Dronfield goal. Bridge rolled a sideways pass to Robinson whose shot crashed back off the upright and when O'Callaghan aimed the ball just inside the left hand post from the rebound, Matt Darlow had no option but to 'make himself big' and he pulled off a great goal line save with his outstretched arm.
Unfortunately for Darlow, centre halves aren't allowed to do that and he received a red card, while Paul Goodhand stepped forward and made no mistake from the penalty spot, to put the Poachers ahead, once a pitch invading fox had vanished into the night.
Craig Bridge was substituted before Dronfield restarted the game, to spare his tired legs any more exertion in advance of the forthcoming big match.
The visitors nearly drew level almost immediately, but Bebbington was denied by another quality save from Busby.
In the final minute, the home side made sure of the three points, when Boden swept a cross cum shot across the face of Booth's goal and O'Callaghan nipped in and got a touch before Dronfield could clear their lines and turned the ball into the net.
The first half had, at times, threatened to become an end of season, half hearted affair, but the tempo of the game picked up no end after the game. And both teams played their part in an entertaining game.
We'll be back at Birch Park on Wednesday, for the Poachers NCEL Division 1 Play Off Semi Final v. Hallam. I suspect their will be a bigger crowd present for that one.
FT: Bottesford Town 3 v Dronfield Town 1

Saturday, 23 April 2016

AFC Mansfield 0 v Hallam FC 0 - NCEL Div 1

Saturday 23rd April 2016
Toolstation NCEL Division 1
at Forest Town Stadium
AFC Mansfield (0) 0
Hallam FC (0) 0
Admission £4. Programme £1.50
AFC Mansfield:
Jason White, Rob Paling, Danny Williams, Grant Allott (C), Luke Jeffs, Danny Naylor, Ryan Williams, Phil Buxton, Danny Patterson, Craig Mitchell, Jimmy Ghaichem
Subs - Steve Sowter, Adon Spencer, Jordan Annable, Fhad Mohammed Saleh, Sam O'Malley
Hallam FC
Dave Darwent, Tom Nolan, Max Pemberton, Simon Mirfin, Harry Bamforth, Tim Whittaker, Jake Mason, Connor Chappell, Michael Blythen, Janni Lipka, Micah Bishop
Subs - Steve Brammer, Scott Lowe, James Reid, Elliott Simpson, Jed Phillips
The scene is set, both teams have already reached this season's NCEL Division 1 play offs, but AFC Mansfield needed another point today to clinch automatic promotion as runners up, though if truth be told, they effectively already had, unless they lost today and third placed Bottesford Town won their remaining games by a zillion goals to nil (or something getting on that way).
I had predicted a 1-1 draw this afternoon at the Forest Town Stadium, with whoever scored first standing back and allowing the opposition the freedom of the pitch to score an unchallenged equaliser. As it panned out, the level of detente on display wasn't actually that blatant... well not quite!
So an edgy game ensued. Whereby the Bulls didn't want to give anything away, but, that said, they could probably point to their keeper Jason White and credit him for keeping a clean sheet, as he made four good saves... and there was one goal line clearance to thrill the assembled crowd, while the referee missed a stonewall penalty decision, when Tom Whittaker pushed Craig Mitchell over inside the visitors goal area with both hands. But possibly the referee had this one down for a draw on his coupon too.
It would be an exaggeration to say that both teams had already shaken hands on a draw prior to kick off, but as the game petered out towards the end, it was fairly obvious that there was a mutual feeling on contentment as the pair of them happily settled for one, as such a result did neither of them any harm.
The two teams had done all they really had to do already over the course of the whole season, so when all is said and done, they deserve all of the plaudits on offer for that.
Other than that... hmm, I've not really got anything to add about the actual game, played out between one of the newest clubs in local non league football and the second oldest team in the entire world.
The respective managers Rudy Funk and Ryan Hindley have done a great job this season, so hats off to them. 
I'm really pleased that these two like-able characters have both had a successful campaign. 
Left click for enlarged image
AFC Mansfield ground out the result they needed and Hallam have got more important matters to attend to, when they face Bottesford Town away in a NCEL Division 1 play off semi final on Wednesday night... a game that will hopefully have more to write about then than today, should I happen to head due east in midweek.
Fingers crossed that the Hallam striker Michael Blythen (I work with his dad), was only taken off midway through the first half as a precautionary measure, so he didn't aggravate his injury, with the big game at Birch Park only a few days away now.
Man of the match: Harry Bamforth (Hallam), good luck to his dad's team in their U19 cup final this coming week.

Congratulations to AFC Mansfield on winning automatic promotion, finishing the season on the back of an 11 game unbeaten run... and bestest wishes to all the sides who must now slug it out against each other in the play off lottery, to see who grabs the remaining promotion spot. 

Mansfield Town 4 v Oldham Athletic 0 - FLYA (NE)

Saturday 23rd April 2016
Football League Youth Alliance (North East)
at the Worksop Van Hire Stadium, Clipstone FC
Mansfield Town (2) 4
Tyler Blake 8, 24, 60 (pen)
Morgan Ratcliffe 54
Oldham Athletic (0) 0
FLYA (NE) Table and fixtures, click HERE
Flickr picture gallery from this game HERE
Mansfield Town:
Adam Bishop, Teddy Bloor, Louis Danquah, Cain Smith, Morgan Ratcliffe (C), Kieran Harrison, Tyler Johal, Cameron Healey, Tyler Blake (Nyle Blake 63), Ali Smith (Tom Marriott 69), Zayn Hakeem (Devante Reittie 63)
Unused subs - Kane Baldwin, Charlie Shaw
Oldham Athletic:
Callum O'Neill, Tom Hamer, Rory Middleton, Dylan King, Tom Lent, Ryan Leonard (C) (Harry Norris 73), Ronaldo Brown, Francois Antoine,Bailey Whaley, Brendy Glackin (Max Norman 70), Ned Dry (Festus Arthur 64)
A convincing win for John Dempster's young Stags on the same day that second placed Scunthorpe United lost to Hartlepool United, means that the Stags destiny is in their own hands now and even if the Iron win their two remaining games, a Mansfield win at Grimsby Town next Saturday will see them crowned as champions.
Although development football is all about nurturing talent while results of of secondary importance, a league title, in a very strong division, would illustrate just how far the revamped Stags youth set up has come in such a short space of time, for that matter so would a runners up spot, but fingers crossed that this team of very exciting prospects won't fall at the final fence.
Mansfield looked comfortable from the off and the final score reflects their dominance as they knocked the ball around well on what is a remarkably well kept playing surface for a non league club, all credit to Clipstone for their efforts on that front.
Both Tyler Blake and Tyler Johal put the Latics on the back foot in the opening exchanges as they worked the ball deep into Oldham territory, ably assisted by Ali Smith and Zayn Hakeem.
Tom Hamer hooked a cross into the Stags area, but Johal, back helping his defence, intercepted the ball and knocked it square to his captain Morgan Ratcliffe, who is excelling in his new responsible role, to get the Stags momentum going again.
Mansfield launched a quick attack from Ratcliffe's clearance and Tyler Blake did well to bring a bouncing ball under control just outside the visitors goal area and he found the bottom corner of Callum O'Neill's goal with a crisp half volley.
When I grow up I want to be just like 'Captain Morgan'
The champions elect were proving to be a real handful for the visitors, as the forwards were joined by Teddy Bloor and Louis Danquah on the flanks, with Cain Smith and Cameron Healey pushing up behind them, while Ratcliffe and Keiran Harrison stayed back to sweep up any traces of attacking intentions from Oldham. Another Stags goal was almost inevitable and italmost arrived after 19 minutes when Hakeem glanced the ball narrowly wide from Bloor's left wing corner.
Cain Smith saw his long range shot clear the bar after another searching cross into the goalmouth had been half cleared.
The Stags next attack broke down and the Latics keeper stood bouncing the ball on the edge of his area, waiting for his teammates to find some space for him to pick out with his clearance, but he'd taken his eye off of Tyler Blake who was on him in a instant, stealing the ball as it hit the ground and steering it into the unguarded goal to make it two nil.
As the first half reached it's conclusion, Ali Smith rolled the ball into the path of Hakeem, but he leaned backwards as he connected with ball and put his intended effort out of the ground.
Louis Danquah, who had been pacing up and down the left wing all of the first half, knocked a pass inside to Ali Smith, who switched play to the right flank with one touch, but Bloor's delivery was put behind for a corner, which Oldham cleared, before mounting an attack of their own and when Bailey Whaley threaded a pass through to Brendy Glackin, Adam Bishop was forced to save a close range shot with his legs.
HT: Stags Youth 2 v Latics Youth 0
Tony Philliskirk's half time team talk seemed to pick Oldham up, for a while and they broke forward straight from the restart with Ned Dry sprinting 30 yards, before he met Harrison head on and came second in that particular contest... as most people do.
Ten minutes into the second half, Mansfield were carrying on in the same manner as they were prior to the break, but with just a two goal cushion, the next strike would be vital.
Rory Middleton conceded a free kick just outside the visitors area, earning himself a yellow card into the bargain and as Johal knocked the resulting free kick in towards a crowded six yard box, full of enthusiastic young men jostling for position, Ratcliffe wrestle free of his marker and got his head to the ball and flicked it just inside the left hand upright.
The Stags had a real spring in their step now and came close to increasing their lead when Hakeem nodded the ball to Tyler Blake, but his hooked shot fizzed into the side netting.
Cain Smith pushed forward from his holding roll and rolled a pass to Tyler Blake who flicked it on to Hakeem, who drilled the ball on target, but O'Neill had positioned himself well and gathered the ball to his chest.
Tyler Blake's close range thumping shot was deflected wide as the Stags threatened to run riot, but Bloor's corner kick was punched away.
Cain Smith charged right through the middle of the visitors defence, but as he steadied himself to
place the ball past O'Neill he was tripped from behind. Tyler Blake stepped up and made no mistake as he claimed his hat trick from the penalty spot.
The rhythm of the game was broken up for a short while, as both managers tweaked their systems and introduced their substitutes. But before long Devante Reittie, Tom Marriott and Nyle Blake were giving the visitors a whole new set of problems to solve.
Harrison ghosted in on the blind side of Oldham's defence, but could only direct Danquah's right wing corner wide of the back post as he met the Stags left back's in-swinging flag kick.
Nyle Blake drew a defendere towards him and slipped the ball into the space he'd left for Marriott to run on to, but his first touch knock rolled wide of the right hand post.
FT: Mansfield Town U18 4 v Oldham Athletic U18 0
A very convincing win all told, that sets up a grandstand finish to the season next weekend at Waltham against Grimsby Town, who currently are destined to finish in 12th place in tis 13 team league, but if their is one thing this Stags side will have learned over this highly enjoyable season, you can't underestimate anyone.