EFL U18 Youth Alliance (NE)
at The Priory City of Lincoln Academy,
Skellingthorpe Road, Hartsholme, Lincoln
Lincoln City (1) 1
Jack McMenemy 1
Mansfield Town (2) 3
Kieran Harrison 4
Nyle Blake 25
Alistair Smith 64
A few more pictures from this game click HERE
Regan Start, Archie Moyses, Ryley Thompson, Jack Fixter, Luke Anderson (C), Jack Weatherell, Danny Horton, Reece Robinson-Jones (James Hugo 14), Jack McMenemy (Charlie Hart 89), Richie Burdett, Keilen Gretton (Luke White 65)
Unused subs - Kyle Watkins, Lewis Cox
Sam Wilson, Teddy Bloor, Kane Baldwin, Cain Smith, Morgan Ratcliffe (C), Kieran Harrison, Henri Wilder, Cameron Healey, Nyle Blake (Keaton Ward 80), Alistair Smith (Surafel Behailu 80), Jason Law (Devante Reittie 75)
Unused subs - Xavier Sundby, Aiden Walker
Lincoln went into this game off of the back of some indifferent form, but they had beaten Chesterfield 6-2 in their last league fixture, while the Stags arrived at the Priory sitting at the top of the league table, but having just lost an unprecedented three games in a row in all competitions before today.
The Stags were also without Ashanti Pryce and Tom Marriott, but football is a squad game in this day and age and John Dempster has a rich seam of talent running throughout both his first and second year recruits and none of the ready made replacements were found wanting, in this lively encounter, played out against a miserable backdrop of intermittent Lincolnshire drizzle.
The Stags ambitions to get back to winning ways were dealt a blow inside the first minute, when Jack Fixter dug out the ball and chipped it over their defence into the path of Jack McMenemy, whose miss hit shot deceived Sam Wilson and ended up in the back of the net.
But the visitors were on level terms almost straight away, when Kieran Harrison picked up the ball just inside the Imps half and advanced forward with purpose, weaving his way forward with purpose, before unleashing an unstoppable shot into the top right hand corner of Regan Start's goal... meaning that both goalkeeper's first touch of the ball had been when they had retrieved it from the back of their respective goal nets. Remember that one, because it's bound to turn up in a pub quiz anytime soon.
Nyle Blake, looking lively through both the left and right channels in support of Alistair Smith, crossed to Jason Law who headed the ball down into the path of (A) Smith, but Fixter, who always seems to relish his side's contests against Mansfield, got his body in the way and blocked Smith's shot.
The Stags picked up the loose ball and their momentum once again and Jack Weatherell did well to divert Law's shot away from goal at the expense of a corner.
In a rare moment of indecision, Harrison missed a clearance as Archie Moyses launched a long ball towards Richie Burdett, who took three long strides towards the bi-line before unleashing an angled shot that Wilson smothered down by the upright.
|Solar panels on a thatched roof!? That can never be right!|
A big Blake knock into the Imps goalmouth, saw the match referee Gareth Davies given a choice of options that he could award a penalty for, with (A) Smith being pulled back from reaching the ball, while Moyses blocked Law's goal bound shot with the top of his right arm.
Alas, although Law's penalty was struck low and on target, Start got down well to turn the ball away and keep the home side on level terms.
Blake, yet again, terrorised Lincoln on the right flank and picked out (A) Smith with a slide rule pass; the Stags frontman's first touch took him past Luke Anderson, but his second saw the ball skid narrowly past the right hand post.
(A) Smith and Law pulled the Lincoln defence apart with an exchange of passes on the left hand side of the City area, but start saved well from (A) Smith's stinging twelve yard shot.
Cain Smith and Cameron Healey linked up in midfield and played the ball out wide to Teddy Bloor, who was covering the ground of three men today and popping up all over the pitch in an array of roles and positions, his left wing shot across the face of Lincoln's goal only needed a touch and Blake provided it, with an emphatic strike from close range, to put the Stags in front and in control on twenty five minutes.
(C) Smith was a fraction away from increasing the Stags lead a few moments later, but his shot took a deflection past the post off of Keilen Gretton.
The Imps rallied towards the end of the first half, but Wilson confidently rose to collect Richie Burdett's cross, before spreading himself to block Reece Robinson-Jones left foot strike from the edge of the area.
And in first half stoppage time, McMenemy missed a sitter when he failed to connect with Burditt's right wing cross, that bounced a few feet in front of Wilson's goal and was hooked away by Kane Baldwin.
Half time, so far so good and the shoots of recovery after a three game temporary dip, were there for all to see.
HT: Imps 1 v Stags 2
The Stags nearly repeated Lincoln's first half party piece from the restart, but Start pulled off a great reflex save to keep Blake out from close range.
Lincoln cleared their lines but Mansfield came again, with Bloor skipping past two challenges before skimming a shot across the top of the crossbar.
With Baldwin, Harrison and the Stags captain Morgan Ratciffe presenting a formidable barrier for Lincoln to try breaking down, the Stags defence were providing the foundation, freedom and impetus for their team mates to push forward and the visitors had by far the better of the second half.
Law was fouled out on the right wing by Moyses and took the resulting free kick himself, which found it's way through to Healey just outside the left hand side of Lincoln's area and the lanky midfielder almost celebrated his birthday with a goal as his twenty yard chip dipped over Smart but landed on the roof of the net.
Lincoln were soon on the back foot again, when Harrison advanced forward from the halfway line and threaded a pass through to (C) Smith, who unselfishly laid it back to (A) Smith, but Start kept the Imps in the game with another good save.
Law found himself a couple of yards of space out on the right flank to deliver the perfect pass to (A) Smith that bounced up a foot in front of him and allowed the Stags striker to plant an audacious lob over Start, that dropped just under the bar to give the visitors a well deserved two goal cushion.
Wherever the Stags mojo had been hiding for the past few weeks, they had well and truly found it again and will now go into Wednesday night's FA Youth Cup game at Bedworth United and local derby against second placed Notts County next weekend, with a renewed purpose and spring in their step.
Wilder ran forty yards, keeping the ball tucked in closely to his feet, to avoid being tackled, but Anderson blocked his shot.
Bloor, who had been running non stop since kick off and still looked to have stamina to spare, jinked inside past Ryley Thompson and squared the ball to (C) Smith, who turned the ball past Start, only to see it bobble inches past the post.
Reittie put in a great run on the right hand side of the pitch and stroked tthe ball inside to Blake who was denied, again, by the stubborn Imps keeper.
Pushing for a place in the starting eleven any time soon, Reittie attacked down the middle, but saw that Kane Baldwin was better placed and opted to tee the ball up for the Stags number 3 and with the Lincoln defence backing off anticipating a cross, Baldwin went for goal and was only inches away from adding a fourth for Mansfield as his effort cleared the bar.
Keaton Ward made a blind side run to meet (C) Smith's 'dink' over the Imps defence, but Start sprinted from his line to hook the ball away.
Out of nowhere, Lincoln belatedly showed their teeth and Wilson was forced to tip Burdett's cross over his bar. Harrison headed the resulting corner away and Ward raced off down the left flank with the ball, killing vital seconds of the limited time that was left, before Weatherell cleared his eventual cross away.
Right at the death, Luke White tried his luck from twenty five yards in stoppage time, but Ratcliffe got a touch to take the sting out of the shot and Wilson gathered the ball easily.