Saturday, 19 September 2015

Mansfield Town 1 v York City 0 - Football League Youth Alliance

Saturday 19th September 2015
Football League Youth Alliance
at Kirklington Road, Rainworth
Mansfield Town (1) 1
Morgan Ratcliffe 38
York City (0) 0
For Flickr photo group from this game click HERE
Stags line up:
Sam Wilson, Teddy Bloor, Louis Danquah, Morgan Ratcliffe (Charlie Shaw 42), Kieran Harrison, Kane Baldwin (Surafel Behailu 28), Cain Smith, Cameron Healey, Tyler Blake (C), Tom Marriott (Luke Bacon 74), Zane Hakeem
Unused subs - Alistair Smith, Henry Brittijn
York line up:
Kieran Price, Alex McMillan, Kyle Trinder (Matty Parker 62), Alex Ashman, Josh Dobie, Tyler Walton, Cameron Wilson, Sam Fielding (Reece Breslin 79), Nick Kennedy (Alex Brutton 79), Dec Leen, Rob Cooney
Unused subs - Chris Salmon, Sam Jefferson
Prior to today the Stags had won two and drawn two of their league games so far this season and they have also beaten Grimsby Town (on penalties), away from home, in the League Cup.
Mark Peters Under 18 Academy side, also won their opening game of the FLYA (Division H) season at Kidderminster Harriers on Wednesday afternoon, with Joe McBreaty netting the only goal of the game. So things have started well for the development teams this term.
York City, with just a solitary point from their opening four games, travelled to face John Dempster's unbeaten Stags youth team at Kirklington Road, Rainworth, with a gameplan that seemingly consisted of crowding out the middle of the park in an effort to keep the game tight.
York's tactic of containing their hosts worked, to a point.
And for the most part it was a scrappy and frustrating game, both for the Mansfield players and the supporters who had turned out in the midday sunshine to give the young Stags their backing.
Though the Stags usually come out of the blocks with an high tempo approach to the game, York restricted them to just two goalscoring opportunities in the opening ten minutes; the first saw Teddy Bloor try his luck from long range and the second came about when Tyler Blake's cross to Zane Hakeem, was only cleared as far as Cameron Healey, but he went for power rather than precision and planted the ball wide of the right hand upright.
It was Healey who had the next chance to break the deadlock too, but Bloor's right wing free kick sat up awkwardly in the goalmouth and the competitive midfielder couldn't quite keep the ball down and it cleared the crossbar by a foot.
Louis Danquah ventured forward, but found himself crowded out by four opposition players and when he managed to fend them off and square the ball to his right, Cain Smith had a shot a goal charged down by another cluster of York players.
The Minstermen were obviously fed up of being the whipping boys of the division and were putting up a dogged resistance, while testing the boundaries and parameters of the expression 'fair but firm' with a few full bodied challenges in midfield.
There will be a few tired and aching limbs among the Mansfield lads in the morning.
Kane Baldwin took an hefty knock out by the touchline as Matt Salmon made his first appearance on the Kirklington Road turf of what proved to be a busy afternoon for the Stags physio.
Baldwin would take no further part in the game and Surafel Behailu came on to take his place.
York perked up momentarily and Rob Cooney played the ball into the path of Sam Fielding, but City's number 8 rushed his effort and the ball went skywards and didn't touch the ground again until it was well clear of the goal (and the perimeter fence).
Behailu made a nuisance of himself almost immediately after entering the fray and he pressured Alex McMillan into conceding a corner.
York cleared the ball away from Bloor's corner into their crowded goalmouth, but Tom Marriott launched it straight back into the mix, where only a last ditch tackle at the expense of a corner, prevented Hakeem from opening the score.
Bloor picked out Morgan Ratcliffe with the flag kick and despite the very close attention of three York players trying to hold him down, the Stags number 4 got his head to the ball and powered it into the top corner of the net, for what proved to be the only goal of the game. 1-0
Within a minute, Ratcliffe was out of the game too and after a lengthy treatment break was whisked off to hospital because he required stitches as the result of yet another midfield 'collision'.
Charlie Shaw came on for the Stags in Ratcliffe's place... and though you had to feel sorry for the two players who had to be assisted off of the pitch, one has to feel a modicum of sympathy for the lads who wouldn't be getting a run out from the bench, because the two substitutions thus far had been enforced ones, rather than tactical switches.
On the stroke of half time, Blake broke through into the visitors area, from a Bloor free kick... City clawed the ball away, but Marriott was on hand again to pick up the loose ball and he knocked it forward into the path of Hakeem, who turned and got his shot in, but saw it bounce narrowly wide of the upright.
HT: Stags Youth 1 v York Youth 0
From the restart the Stags started to pick a few holes in the City rearguard, but they couldn't quite put the finishing touches to several promising moves.
Blake shrugged off the attentions of Kyle Trinder and shot across the face of the York goal, but Kieran Price got down well and got his body behind the ball to keep it out.
Cain Smith rode a challenge in midfield and drilled the ball forward into the path of Blake, who had time to steady himself before unleashing a shot that Price kept out once again.
Marriott slipped the ball through a gap in the York defence to Healey; Tyler Walton crashed into a tackle to clear the immediate danger, but the ball fell to Hakeem, who blazed his shot wide of the post.
York realised that the game was in danger of slipping away from them and mounted a couple of attacks of their own; Fielding and Cooney combined on the edge of the area but Kieran Harrison intercepted the and cleared the danger. Harrison is one of the ultra reliable unsung heroes of the team who just gets his sleeves rolled up and deals with whatever comes his way in a calm but very assured manner. It is high time that his input got the plaudits it deserves within the honourable mentions contained in this series of match reports covering the fortunes on the Stags development team. Consider it done.
Cooney and (Cameron) Wilson forced a corner as they countered and when (Cameron) Wilson picked out Walton, Sam Wilson did well to snatch the Minstermen's centre half's goalbound header out of the air authoritively. In spite of him not having a great deal to actually do (Sam) Wilson had remained focussed and alert and wasn't found wanting.
Shaw and Marriott exchanged passes out on the right flank, the latter crossed the ball to Hakeem, who in turn laid it off to Shaw who had continued his run, but couldn't quite keep his shot on target.
Blake was fouled by Walton as he cut in from the left flank towards the penalty area. Bloor's free kick was on target, but Price was now proving to be as stubborn as the combined effort City defenders and covering midfield.
Having said that... Price made a mess of kicking the ball out and sliced it for a throw in, which Shaw took quickly to Marriott who whipped a cross in for Blake, but Price's blushes were spared when the Stags striker knocked the ball wide.
Luke Bacon came on for the last 15 minutes for Marriott, who'd run himself into the ground playing the role of provider in the hole behind the two forwards, in what had often been the battleground of midfield. And Bacon slotted into a similar role.
In the closing stages, Harrison launched a long pass into the path of Hakeem, who gambled on getting winning the race for the ball, shrugged off the attentions of two defenders and thumped his shot low and hard... and inches the wrong side of the upright.
Blake forced his way through into the York area, but was nudged in the back by Josh Dobie before he could test Price, but the referee missed the nudge and Dobie got away with it.
Right at the death, Cain Smith skinned Walton out on the right flank, but Price reached hiscross before Hakeem... and the Stags had to settle for a 1-0 win.
FT: Mansfield Town U18 1 v York City U18 0
York offered the young Stags a different kind of challenge today, suffocating the game in midfield and attempting to close down their supply lines. Mansfield had to work hard for today's win, against a physical side who had travelled with the intention of preventing the home side from playing their usual game... and John Dempster's side dug in, grafted hard and passed that test.
It's a steep learning curve for players in this age group and they will have taken an important lesson on board today, about how to deal with an uncompromising and ultra defensive opposition side.
What the game lacked in entertainment at times it made up for in intrique... and the Stags go marching on!