Football League Youth Alliance
at Kirklington Road, Rainworth MW FC
Mansfield Town (1) 1
Zayn Hakeem 23
Notts County (0) 1
Sam Osborne 82
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Adam Bishop, Teddy Bloor, Louis Danquah, Cain Smith, Morgan Ratcliffe, Kieran Harrison, Tyler Johal (Charlie Shaw 42), Cameron Healey (C), Tyler Blake, Jason Law (Devante Reittie 67), Zayn Hakeem (Nyle Blake 86)
Joe Searson-Smithard, Jordan Richards (Remaye Campbell 42), Kenan Leyton, Dominic Brownhill, Jordan Ashantie, Harry Bugg (George McCartney 73), Alex Howes, Luther Wildin (C), Montel Gibson, Jack McMillan (Nathan Cobain 78), Sam Osborne
Only three points now separate the teams in 3rd and 9th place in the table, in what has been a very competitive season in the North East division of the Football League Youth Alliance.
County had beaten their local rivals 4-0 the last time the two sides met, on a very wet and windy day back in November at Arnold Town's Eagle Valley ground.
Mansfield made the early running, as Zayn Hakeem powered his way into the Magpies area, but Joe Searson-Smithard was quickly off his line and cut out the danger.
Hakeem's running created another opening moments later, when he advanced down the left flank and delivered the ball to Tyler Blake who flicked it into the path of Jason Law, but his shot was deflected behind for a corner, from which Jordan Ashantie tidied things up for the visitors and cleared the ball away from danger.
Harry Bugg, Ashantie's central defensive partner, headed away a cross from Law, as the Stags continued to knock loudly on County's back doors.
But County were almost on level terms immediately, when they pushed forward from the restart, with a quick passing move, that finished with Montel Gibson hitting the crossbar.
Hakeem used his pace to bamboozle the visitors defence again and Bugg clipped the Stags dangerman with a mistimed tackle as he homed in on goal. The referee blew up and pointed to the penalty spot, but less than five minutes after he'd found the net with such aplomb, Hakeem drilled the ball wide of the right hand upright.
The penalty miss was a a real let off for County who now forged ahead and went on the offensive themselves.
Alex Howes run through the left channel was blocked by Morgan Ratcliffe's challenge, but Howes scurried after the loose ball, regained possession and shot narrowly wide of the left hand upright.
Ratcliffe directed the ball goal bound with his bandaged head, from Bloor's long free kick, but the County keeper was well placed to safely make a catch.
Tyler Johal and Jordan Richards both went for the ball as it dropped towards them and they met each other head on, literally... and there was a lengthy stoppage as both players received treatment for head injuries and were subsequently replaced from the subs bench.
When play resumed, County forced a corner kick out on the left flank. Bishop dealt with the in swinging flag kick and the ball was cleared, but only as far as Jack McMillan who struck a first time shot that hit Cameron Healey full on in his face.
The Stags physio Matt Salmon was having a very busy first half and once the referee had added time on for stoppages, half time finally arrived almost sixty minutes after the game had kicked off.
HT: Stags youth 1 v Magpies Youth 0
Tyler Blake was like a terrier, chasing the ball down every time a County defender tried clearing their lines.
Cain Smith kinked up with Harrison and fed the ball to Hakeem on the edge of the area, but he was met by a crowd of striped shirts and the move was snuffed out.
Law put a good cross in to Healey who laid the ball back to Shaw whose first time shot was held by Searson-Smithard. The visitors launched the ball up the field to Montel Gibson, who surged past Harrison with a burst of pace, but with Bishop advancing from his line to meet the County attacker, Gibson tried to curl the ball round him, but his effort went wide.
Gibson drilled a low cross into the Stags six yard box, that Bishop did well to claim, amid the scrum of approaching players.
McMillan delivered a free kick into the Stags area, that was half cleared as far as Brownhill out on the right, who chipped a cross in towards Gibson, but Bishop came to the rescue again.
The game had become a real end to end affair, with both teams going for goal. It was an highly enjoyable spectacle for the crowd, but agony for the managers and coaches as shots rained in on the goals at either end.
On 82 minutes, County pulled level when Sam Osborne hit a close range shot straight at Bishop from Remaye Campbell's cross and forced the ball over the line from the rebound.
Neither side wanted to settle for a draw and Bloor attacked Notts down the right flank, but Kenan Layton and Ashantie were on hand to clear two telling crosses away.County had another chance when Brownhill popped up on the edge of the Stags box and forced another save out of Bishop, who'd had as great game today.
Devante Reittie and Nyle Blake were introduced late in the game and Searson-Smith was called in to action, saving close range efforts from both players, before Nyle Blake almost nicked the win for Mansfield right at the end, when he rode a challenge by George McCartney, spotted the keeper was off his line and stabbed the ball towards the bottom left hand corner of the goal, here it rolled narrowly wide.
FT: Mansfield Town 1 v Notts County 1
I think that most people present would've agreed that the draw was a fair result, but with several chances going begging and a missed penalty, the Stags will know they could have won this competitive and lively game, that was a credit to both club's academy set ups.