Saturday, 9 April 2016
Hartlepool United 3 v Mansfield Town 1 - FLYA (NE)
Football League Youth Alliance (NE)
at Blackhall Colliery Welfare Park
Hartlepool United (0) 3
Josh Hawkes 54, 56
Jordan Jewson 68
Mansfield Town (1) 0
Cain Smith 24
Ryan Catterick, Jason Owen, Jack Turnbull (C), Ethan Wood, Jordan Fielding, Nathaniel Skidmore, Jack Blackfield, Josh Hawkes, Jordan Jewson, Dylan Elliott, Liam Travers
Unused subs - John Neirs, Jacob Bramley, Cameron Halliday, Lewis Orrell
Adam Bishop, Teddy Bloor, Louis Danquah, Cain Smith, Kane Baldwin, Kieran Harrison, Charlie Shaw (Tom Marriott 66), Cameron Healey (C), Devante Reittie (Nyle Blake 60), Jason Law (Surafel Behailu 58), Zayn Hakeem
Unused subs - Sam Wilson, Alistair Smith
John Dempster's side now face Lincoln City away from home at Ashby Avenue, the home of Lincoln United and Oldham Athletic at Clipstone FC, before rounding off the season against Grimsby Town at the Mariners training complex at Waltham.
Scunthorpe still have home games against Doncaster Rovers and Hartlepool United to play, before they travel to take on Burton Albion on the final day of the season.
Mathematically Burton Albion, Rotherham United, Notts County and Lincoln City could still make a late bid to come up on the rails and pinch the title, while if Doncaster Rovers or Hartlepool United win all of their remaining four games, they too could still make the cut as wild card entries to the title race and to that end next weekend's results will be vital.
In the opening exchanges the Stags had slightly the better of things, but the 'Pools' lads, playing without any of the pressures and burdens of either expectation or needing a result on their shoulders, were knocking the ball around well too and causing the visitors back line a few problems.
Kieran Harrison chipped the ball over United's back four to Zayn Hakeem, but Ryan Catterick collected the ball as the Stags front man flicked it on, while at the other end, the home side's captain Jack Turnbull, who is related to Morgan Ratcliffe, delivered a left wing cross that was headed wide of Adam Bishop's goal by Nathaniel Skidmore.
Hartlepool seemed to be employing two rows of defenders at this point, but they were unlocked when Josh Law exchanged passes with Reittie before rolling the ball into the path of Smith, who saw off a challenge and curled a shot past Catterick from just inside the goal area.
The home side responded immediately to the opening goal and within moments of the restart, Kane Baldwin thwarted Liam Travers with a saving tackle inside Mansfield's goalmouth.
Shaw linked up with Reittie as the Stags pushed forward again, but he shot over from the return pass.
The versatile Louis Danquah soared past Jacob Owen and hooked the ball into the six yard box to where Jason Law connected with the ball but couldn't keep his effort on target.
Jordan Jewson held of the attentions of two visiting defenders and got a shot in on the turn, but Bishop got down to his left and smothered the ball by the upright.
Jewson then popped up on the left wing and found Travers with a dipping cross, but Danquah got the ball away with a firm but fair challenge, which acted as payback after the Pools winger had caught him late and off the ball a few minutes earlier.
Once again Shaw providing the ammunition for Reittie with a measured pass deep inside the home side's half, Fielding got a touch on the ball and nudged it away to the edge of the area where it fell nicely for Smith, who crashed the ball against the cross bar. Such are the fine lines between winning and losing.
A Hartlepool player shouted "Aw! Referee! He can't be offside because he headed it!" and probably wished he'd just spoken quietly to the referee, as laughter echoed around the ground from most people present.
Jewson missed the target from Josh Hawkes pass, before the Stags finished the first half with another quick passing move involving Danquah, Shaw and Law, which culminated in the latter knocking the ball into the box to Hakeem who rolled it back for Smith who drilled an 18 yard shot straight at Catterick.
On another day, Smith could've claimed a hat trick in the first half, but as the whistle sounded for the interval, Mansfield took a slender one goal lead in with them, in what had so far been a fairly even game, with the away side just about shading things percentage wise.
HT: Pools Youth 0 v Stags Youth 1
Catterick thwarted Hakeem once again, claiming a cross before the first team fringe player could get his head to it from Bloor's cross.
Baldwin rolled a pass down the wing to Hakeem, who was halted by a lunging tackle by Fielding. Cameron Healey timed his run to meet Danquah's free kick, but he diverted his header past the outside of the upright.
Danquah cleared Jack Blackfield's corner kick and aimed the ball out wide for Reittie to chase through the right hand side of midfield, but Turnbull got across and cut out his run and for whatever reason, from that moment on, the host side picked up the pace and suddenly started playing like world beaters, while Mansfield effectively caved in before them and were swept away for a while.
From the restart, Hartlepool nicked the ball and attacked down the right yet again and Travers was allowed the time and space to deliver a testing ball into Mansfield's goalmouth, but Bishop went to ground and held on to it this time, while pondering where his defence had disappeared to.
Surafel Behailu and Nyle Blake, came on from the bench and offered the Stags more options going forward, but any thoughts of a come back were very short lived, when Turnbull took a long throw in down the Pools left flank to Jordan Jewson, who knocked the ball past Harrison and ran on to finish well.
From a position of strength and a one goal lead at the break, Mansfield's afternoon was now in tatters.
So far the Stags had had two offside decisions and a penalty appeal refusal go in their favour, yet still they were trailing by a two goal margin because of their second half collapse.
Hakeem was forced to run across the home side's 18 yard line, looking for an opening in defence to exploit, but having kept possession well, he saw their were no chinks in their armour and flicked the ball to Blake whose shot nestled in the side netting.
Travers hooked a long pass out wide to Blackfield on the left, who used his pace to show his marker a clean pair of heels, but rattled a stinging shot against the bar, with only Bishop to beat.
Tom Marriott was trying to inject some pace down the visitors left flank, but Hartlepool were comfortable and almost over the finishing line now and they could afford to sit back and absorb any pressure Mansfield applied, knowing that they could hit them on the counter attack with the Stags having to commit men forward.
FT: Hartlepool United U18 3 v Mansfield Town U18 1
The wheels came off after the break as Mansfield allowed a very well organised and attack minded Pools side far too much time and space on the ball... and by the time they got to grips with how the second half was unfolding, the damage had already been done.
Today was a very steep learning curve for this young Stags side, hopefully they'll take the lessons they received on board.