Saturday, 26 September 2015

Bradford City 1 v Mansfield Town 3 - Football League Youth Alliance

Saturday 26th September 2015
Football League Youth alliance
at Rawdon Meadows, Apperley Bridge
Bradford City (1) 1
Ellis Hudson 21
Mansfield Town (1) 3
Alistair Smith 16, 47
Surafel Behailu 63
Click HERE for a Flickr photo group from this game
Bradford City:
George Kenworthy, Kwame Boateng, Sam Wright, Curtis Peters, Alex Laird, Kesi Omolokun, Niall Payne, Xander McBurnie, Reece Webb Foster, Sumaili Cissa (Casey Taglione 61), Ellis Hudson (Reece Powell 70)
Unused Subs - Ollie Kirkpatrick, James Sunderland
Mansfield Town:
Sam Wilson, Charlie Shaw, Teddy Bloor, Drew Gibson, Kieran Harrison, Surafel Behailu, Cain Smith, Cameron Healey, Tyler Blake (C), Alistair Smith, Zayn Hakeem
Unused subs - Luke Bacon, Henry Brittijn, Joe McBrearty
Squad rotation was the name of the game for the Stags youth team today, as they travelled north to face league leaders Bradford City. And John Dempster's team showed that even with a starting line up that was unrecognisable to last weeks, they have the strength in depth to put out a team that can compete with the very best that this league as to offer.
Although the Mansfield youngsters are still unbeaten this season, the Bantams started the day with an impressive record in the league of having won all of their opening five league games of the season, with a striker, Reece Webb-Foster, who had scored in every single game so far. His record in all competitions was played 6, goals 12, which includes 6 in the last two games. Today he didn't get much change out of the Stags central defensive pairing of Kieran Harrison and Drew Gibson (making his first start of the season) and when he was switched to a wider ranging position, roaming in from both flanks, he found that Charlie Shaw and Teddy Bloor to be in a very determined mood too.
When the prolific Bradford marksman did eventually get a sight of goal, Sam Wilson was on hand to palm away an angled shot from out by the right touchline.
Surafel Behailu and Alistair Smith combined well down the flank as Mansfield began to ask questions of the home side's defence as the Stags enjoyed a spell in the ascendancy.
This Bradford side have a fearsome reputation, but Dempster's side were completely unfazed by that and had a confident spring in their step as they matched their illustrious hosts.
On 16 minutes, Zayn Hakeem rode three challenges as he cut into the area from the left flank and squared the ball into the path of Alistair Smith who smashed it past George Kenworthy from six yards out, to put the Stags in front.
Cameron Healey and his midfield sidekick were battling for everything in the centre of the pitch, where Bradford had an array of talent, especially the dreadlocked flair player Curtis Peters who certainly caught the eye.
But once again, Mansfield showed they had a few neat touches of their own and Behailu chipped a measured pass on the turn straight into the path of Zayn Hakeem, only a last ditch lunge from Kesi Omolokun prevented a second goal for the lively visitors.
Ellis Hudson hit a long range cross into the Stags area, towards Webb-Foster, but Shaw was checking his run and prevented the usually free-scoring striker enough time to find his mark and he headed straight at Sam Wilson.
Hudson ventured forward again, this time from the right and with everyone anticipating a cross to Webb-Foster (which had pretty much been the mainstay of Bradford's attacking threat so far), Hudson knocked a cheeky left foot shot just inside the right hand post to pull the Bantams level after 21 minutes.
Tyler Blake and Zayn Hakeem, were chipping away at Bradford like a double battering ram formation, the latter was denied by the outstretched boot of Omolokun but the ball fell to Cain Smith who gave Kenworthy no chance with a thumping shot from just inside the area that skimmed the wrong side of the post.
Hakeem carved himself an opening through the left channel and once again, Kenworthy was relieved to see the ball go narrowly wide of his goal, as the first half came to a close.
HT: Bantams 1 v Stags 1
During the interval, the scouts who were here to run the rule over City's Peters, Omolokun and Webb-Foster were all asking who the 'powerhouse number 11' for the visitors was.
Holding the red hot favourites to 1-1 at the interval, would be seen by many as a decent return for the apparent underdogs from Mansfield. But this year's intake of Stags lads aren't concerned about reputations and the current form of their opponents, they were here to play their own game... and straight from the restart they were straight on the front foot again.
Shaw advanced forward from his right back berth and fed the ball down the flank to Hakeem, the 'powerhouse' broke into the City area at pace and picked out Alistair Smith, who drilled home a sublime volley from ten yards out and the Stags were back in front. You don't stop them!
Hakeem was almost the creator again as he threaded the ball through to Cain Smith, but Omolokun charged down the ball and cleared it away from danger as he authoritatively tried to restore some order among Bradford's backline.
Webb-Foster whipped a free kick over the Stags defensive wall from twenty yards out, but Wilson got his angles right and got down to smother the ball with ease.
Behailu made light work of shrugging off his marker and planted a measured pass into the path of Hakeem, but Kenworthy sprinted from his line and just about got enough of a touch on the ball to divert it away, to where Omolokun put his foot through it and launched a clearance well out of harm's way.
The Smith's, Cain and Alsitair, combined with Blake and Hakeem as the rampant Stags, passed their way through Bradford's rearguard and only a fingertip save at full stretch from Kenworthy prevented the Stags going further in front.
Teddy Bloor picked out Tyler Blake with a precision free kick, but Peters whipped the ball away to safety.
Bradford countered and Peters, who had run the whole length of the pitch to get involved, shrugged off the close attentions of Cameron Healey and forced a good stop out of Wilson.
Mansfield didn't let their tempo drop and moments later Hakeem stripped Sam Wright for pace, but smashed his angled shot into the side netting.
The third goal, that Mansfield so richly deserved, duly arrived in the 63rd minute.
Hakeem broke through into the area in between Bradford's central defenders and crashed a shot against the right hand post, Blake latched onto the rebound but Kenworthy parried his shot, Alistair Smith was first to the loose ball but Omolokun denied him his hat trick with a block on the line, but finally the ball ended up in the back of the net when Behailu made it 'fourth time lucky' with a precision strike from twelve yards.
Alistair Smith was picked out by Teddy Bloor and very nearly made it four, but Kenworthy pulled off a great save to keep him out. And Hakeem was unlucky to see his shot fly narrowly over the bar after the hard working Tyler Blake had unlocked the Bradford defence with a long range pass.
The home side couldn't find their way back into the game now as the young Stags closed ranks and saw the final minutes out and Alistair Smith couldn't quite find the elusive third goal that would give him his hat trick, because his goalbound strike late in the game, inevitably set up by Hakeem, deflected into the side netting off of Alex Laird.
FT: Bradford City youth 1 v Mansfield Town youth 3
An excellent performance and well deserved win from the young Stags, who exceeded all expectations on all fronts today.
John Dempster's only problem now will be who to leave out when he has a full squad available, because the players he drafted in today, went toe to toe against the best opposition side in the league and passed a stern test with flying colours.