Retford United U19 (0) 1 - Zak Oxby 64
Mansfield Town Youth (2) 2 - Remi Davis 22, 28
Admission £1, Programme £1, Attendance 55
Thanks to Retford United's photographer Jon Knight, for letting me have access to and unlimited usage of, all of his photos from tonight's game. I have credited you on the five action shots I have used mate.
I've posted the Stags team on here after getting international clearance, permission from two outspoken but anonymous posters on Stagsnet, a note from my mum and clarification that A. Trialist and A.N. O'Thetrialist weren't playing tonight, you know how complex these things can get sometimes :-/
Ryan Hopkins, Amadou Barry, Keiron Coupe, Ben Birch, Blake Vincent, Jack Hawkins, Kurtis Turner, Nuha Jabbi, Jordan Vilums, Callum Pursglove, Remi Davis
Subs - Matty Jones, Jamie McAllister, Danny Williams, Simba Ganyiwa, Ross Lamb
Young Mansfield Town stars of the future being interviewed for the Stags match programme by the very famous sports reporter Andy Webb
Retford's a proper hotbed for football talent!
Alongside Schnoz's shirt, there's a signed Stags pennant, which was presented to Retford United when Mansfield's first team visited Cannon Park for a pre season friendly a few years ago.
See you again soon mate!
Retford were bolstered tonight, by the signing of Alex Colton from Hallam and the return of Zak Oxby, coming back from a lay off due to injury.
Zak came through a tough test tonight, unscathed, in what was quite a competitive game, while Bradley Capsticks impressed alongside him in defence, having made the step up from the Badgers Under 18's.
Mansfield had a few players in their starting line up who had lost heavily against Lincoln City on Tuesday night, but Mark Hemingray opted to start with Ben Birch and Remi Davis tonight, instead of leaving them on the bench for an hour like he had at Sincil Bank ... and it proved to be a canny selection decision.
Keiron Coupe, who'd stood in as a makeshift goalkeeper in the ill fated FA Youth Cup game, would've been pleased to have been restored to his usual outfield role again.
The pitch at Cannon Park is looking in really good shape this season, which is a credit to the groundsman Steve Gilles ... and following the light drizzle there had been earlier in the evening over the sprawling metropolis of Retford, it was in perfect condition, which suited the visitors passing style, as the ball zipped across the flat and true surface.
I wonder where those pesky rabbits have all gone who used to be such a problem at Cannon Park?
Jack Hawkins was at the engine room of the Stags midfield.
Don't ever let this lad's diminutive stature kid you into believing he's going to be a pushover, he's a strong little bugger, who'll run and battle for every single ball.
And talking of battling, Retford's Reece Thompson, had a few 'competitive' moments over the course of the game too.
All firm but fair stuff though ... well, just about ;-) I
t was Reece who was first to pull the trigger tonight, but Ryan Hopkins the Mansfield goal was equal to Thompson's effort.
Retford went straight on the attack looking for an immediate equaliser, but Reece Thompson shot straight at Ryan Hopkins. "He got caught in two minds, whether to shoot or cross that" offered a Retford supporter who was stood near by.
I can assure you good sir, that Reece Thompson never gets caught in two minds whether to cross the ball or go for glory.
'Nuff said ;-)
Davis was back in the United area again, 6 minutes after he'd scored the first goal of the game, when he seized onto a weak attempt by Joel Marson to head the ball back to Jack Aldred.
Davis took the ball round the Retford keeper and knocked it into the unguarded goal. 2-0 to the Stags.
Reece Thompson forced a save out of Ryan Hopkins, when there wasn't anybody better placed for him to pass too.
And just before half time Sam Hutchinson and Adam Colton combined, unselfishly, to put Thompson through again, but his goal bound knock was cleared by Ben Birch from just in front of the Stags goal line.
Half time arrived, with the visitors still two goals to the good and having shaded the first half possession wise, but the young Badgers side had been starting to get back into it, as the opening 45 minutes came to a close.
At half time Mansfield made three changes with Danny Williams, Matt Jones and Jamie McAllister, coming on in place of Amadou Barry, Blake Vincent and Jack Hawkins, but the visitors found themselves being subdued by Retford's hard work and pressing tactics, cutting of the Stags midfield's supply of the ball while imposing themselves on the game instead.
Michael Haslam, on at half time for United, came straight out of the blocks and was soon charging around covering every blade of grass in the middle of the park.
The right honourable Hristo Karainanov, awarded the free kick and gave McAllister a ticking off.
It had been a clear goalscoring opportunity that the Stags defender had prevented, but this was only, in reality, a practice match and nobody wants to see cards being brandished on nights like this.
At the time that the incident occurred, I was stood talking with Alex Tittcomb, the Retford United U19's centre half, who is currently out of action due to him having been laid low by Glandular Fever and ... well, I'm not one to grass anybody up (well, not anybody but Alex), but the big lad said to me "Why the f*ck is Zak taking it!?", moments before Zak Oxby launched a sublime 20 yard free kick over the Stags defensive wall and beyond the reach of Ryan Hopkins.
Now that was something special.
64 minutes ... Retford United 1 v Mansfield Town 2, game on!
Retford were looking more threatening all the time whenever they went in search of an equaliser, but what really stood out from their performance, was their backs to the wall, hard work and exertion to keep a very good Mansfield team in check.
It had become a really absorbing game to watch and one, that if truth be told, that Retford probably deserved not to lose.
Kurtis Turner, nearly topped off a great captain's performance for the Stags, when he charged through the Retford rearguard but fired narrowly wide and then the Retford skipper Adam Holdsworth, put in a great saving tackle just when Simba Ganyiwa looked odds on to score the third goal for the visitors.
Full time: Retford United U19 1 v Mansfield Town 2
A highly entertaining and absorbing game for the 55 spectators who made the effort to turn up, it's just a shame a few more people weren't there to see it.
Harworth Colliery Institute U19's, at Scrooby Road Recreation Ground, in Bircotes. Which, of course, will be the only place to be in Bassetlaw that night, so don't miss it!
Kick off is at 7.45pm, admission is £2 and the bar is dead cheap and very welcoming.
Mansfield Town Under 19's are at home to Chasetown on the same night at Field Mill, in a game that I'm led to believe has a 7pm kick off.
Next up for me:
A slight change of scenery for yours truly this weekend.
I'll be at the npower Championship top 6, head to head, between Blackburn Rovers and Wolverhampton Wanderers.