Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Mansfield Town 5 v Dunkirk 2 - FA Youth Cup

Field Mill
Tuesday 15th November 2016
FA Youth Cup Second Round
at the One Call Stadium, Field Mill
Mansfield Town (4) 5
Alistair Smith 13, 20
Zayn Hakeem 16, 25, 82
Dunkirk FC (2) 2
Joel Howes 22
Jack Warner 30
Admission £3 Attendance 506
'Wonk Hall' was the only place to be tonight, even though England were playing Spain (I have recorded it to watch later) and, by all accounts: "You've got to watch 'Celebrity Jungle' later because Carol Vorderman is getting 'em out!" Jeezus... if I wanted to see some ropey looking 50 somethings saggy boobs, I don't need to watch the former Countdown maths girl on TV, because I already have a pair of my own.
The Stags youngsters knew that they couldn't take the threat posed by tonight's visitors Dunkirk lightly, given that the Boatmen have taken an impressive array of scalps in this years competition already.
Left click to enlarge programme
Having seen off Matlock Town and Ilkeston (no mean feat given how highly rated the New Manor Ground club are in local development football circles), tonight's visitors then went on to beat Lincoln City, Alfreton Town and last years quarter finalists Coventry City, to claim their place in the second round.
Mansfield have had a quiet passage thus far by comparison, chalking up a 3-0 win in their only other game in this competition so far this season, with a brace of goals from Cain Smith and another one from the live-wire Nyle Blake.
By virtue of winning tonight's game, John Dempster's side will be travelling south, to that there London, where they make the telly n' that and Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second of the United Kingdom of Great Britain lives, to face Fulham at Craven Cottage in the 3rd Round.
Both sides hit the woodwork during the opening exchanges, with  the really famous Antigua and Barbuda Under 20 international Zayn Hakeem thumping the first opportunity of the game against the upright, while Jack Warner hit the crossbar at the other end.
Alistair Smith's persistence, when he wouldn't surrender possession of the ball, in spite of the close attentions of Ollie Robinson, led to the Stags opening goal in the thirteenth minute as he stayed on his feet to drill an angled shot past Ryan Howes and just inside the left hand upright from ten yards out.
Having had the visitors watched in advance, John Dempster knew that his team would be up against a big and strong, occasionally physical side tonight and that certainly proved to be the case, but within three minutes of (A) Smith having opened the scoring, Hakeem escaped the attentions of Pierce Bird and doubled the home side's lead, with a clever shot that bounced just in front of (R) Howes, causing the Dunkirk keeper all kinds of problems as the ball zipped up through his hands... and in spite of his despairing attempt to make a catch Hakeem's strike nestled in the bottom right hand corner of the visitors goal.
Two familiar faces in the crowd tonight.
Welcome home! George Foster and Neil Richardson.
On twenty minutes, (A) Smith put the Stags three ahead, with a sublime dipping volley from twenty five yards out that found the back of the net, via the underside of the crossbar.
But the visitors showed the fighting spirit that they are renowned for and pulled a goal back, when George Harrison delivered a deep cross towards the back post and Xavier Sundby was unable to get near the ball as four Dunkirk players attacked it together and Joel Howes got the decisive touch and the Boatmen reduced the arrears after twenty two minutes.
Kieran Harrison picked up the ball just inside the Dunkirk half and spotted Hakeem making a run through the left channel and dropped a great measured pass into his path and as (R) Howes threw himself down in an attempt to block the ball, the Stags striker slipped the ball under the exposed visitors keeper restore the Stags three goal cushion.
The ball sat up for Kieran Harrison, twenty yards from the Dunkirk goal and he unleashed the sort of shot, that demonstrated why he plays in defence... a position in excels in let it be said, but the pigeons nesting in the North Stand roof got a rude awakening.
Warner picked up a pass from Harrison and let fly with a shot that Sundby did well to
save. But just moments later, Warner had the ball again and having found himself in space thirty yards from the Stags goal, he scored with a excellently executed shot, that gave the Stags keeper no chance.
After six goals in the opening half a hour, the game settled down into a less hectic contest.
The Stags were knocking the ball around and looking to pick up another goal before the break, from a more patient kind of build up, while Dunkirk used up no end of energy trying to chase the ball down and nick a goal. The tactic worked to that end, but there were still one or two hair raising moments along the way, while several supporters who complain about the direct and long ball game employed by the first team at times, were imploring the youngsters to 'Whack it!', 'Get it up the pitch!' and 'Stop fannying about in front of your own goal!'
Dunkirk F.C. logo.png
Just before the break, Cain Smith turned and shot from just outside the area, it was one of those efforts that looks really spectacular if it comes off, but by the same token sounds really expensive when it smashes into rows 18, 19 and 20 of the seats.
HT: Stags Youth 4 v Dunkirk Youth 2
"So who is the new first team manager then!?" somebody demanded to know as the half time whistle sounded, I pretended that I was hard of hearing and couldn't hear him for the Bruno Marrs tune blasting from the loud speakers. Out of a crowd of 506, it actually surprised me that only 505 of them knew the identity of the man stood over yonder watching the game while he wore a Sombrero, or the big bloke stood next to him, whose mum and dad used to run the Lincolnshire Poacher pub on Mansfield Road, Nottingham... and who until very recently has been the assistant manager at Boston United, Crawley Town, Rotherham United and Leeds United.
Of course, it could all be a big coincidence. Cough!
Phwoar! Not all of the talent was out on the pitch tonight.
It would be wrong for me not to mention the Stags outgoing manager at this juncture, he was always alright with me and did turn out to watch the under 18 and under 21 sides whenever he could. I liked Adam, a lot, but these things happen in football all of the time and the turnover of staff at clubs is quite staggering compared to other industries.
I know how I'll remember him... and if he's hard up enough to be actually reading this self indulgent bullshit blog with added football content... Good luck Adam and thanks for some pretty special memories along the way.
And best wishes to the incoming manager and his burly assistant too.
There were some key one against one battles developing out one the pitch; most notably Takunda Mushamri, out on the left flank against Teddy Bloor, who made up for what he lacks in stature with some great battling qualities as he refused to be bullied by the bigger player.
Cameron Healey and Darian Roberts will have both have enjoyed their head to head in the middle of the park and Hakeem and Bird had seemingly wanted to swap shirts way before he final whistle.
Henri Wilder and Jason Law covered a lot of ground and weren't unduly perturbed by some fair, but increasing firm tackles as they got up in support of the ever dangerous (A) Smith and Hakeem.
Kane Baldwin, Kieran Harrison and the Stags captain Morgan Ratcliffe, knew they were going to be up against robust opponents tonight and they worked really while covering each other backs.
And Cain Smith is well and truly back on top of his game again and is the glue that holds it all together in the middle of the park.
Jack Warner. Hello, hello, hello.
Pierce Bird had already been shown a yellow card,when he lunged into Nyle Blake, who had come on as a substitute in the fifty fourth minute, but the skillful play maker rode the challenge and probably saved Bird from getting his marching orders, but goalscorer Joel Howes was cautioned for clattering into Blake. Evidently some of the visiting side were familiar with the Stags substitute and knew what he is capable of if they allowed him to run at them with the ball at his feet.
Bloor delivered a right wing free kick into the area, that was only half cleared and fell to Cain Smith, whose long range shot was tipped over by (R) Howes.
Morgan Ratcliffe collected a pass with his back to goal and slipped the ball through to Hakeem on the turn, his shot was blocked by (R) Howes and Blake couldn't quite keep the ball on target from the rebound.
Wilder broke forward on the left, sold Robinson a dummy and picked out (C) Smith with his cross, but the battling midfielder's low and hard side footed effort was saved by (R) Howes.
The Dunkirk captain Ollie Clark nicked the ball on the edge of the Stags area, as the home sides defence conceded possession after faffing about too much, but Ratcliffe deflected his shot wide of the post.
George Harrisoon. Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Devante Reittie entered the fray with twenty minutes remaining and as he broke forward into the Dunkirk area he was clipped from behind, but tried to stay upright and the chance was gone. You'd never want players to go down when they didn't genuinely need too, but in this case Reittie had been fouled and will know exactly what to do next time.
Baldwin almost netted with a long range opportunist strike, but saw his effort fly narrowly over the bar.
Wilder powered his way into the left channel but shot over from twelve yards.
From the Stags next attack it looked as though Dunkirk had conceded a penalty, when Wilder beat Robinson for pace, but was pulled back by the his shirt and then tripped. Curiously the referee booked the Stags wide man for 'assimilation'.
Oh well, I guess it is a useful part of the steep learning curve for young developing footballers, to see that referee's sometimes make mistakes too.
The visitors hit the post as they showed that they weren't going down without a fight, but I didn't get a look at the lad whose shot it was' number... and play switched quickly to the other end before I could track him and waituntil he turned round so I could see his back.
Reittie was a thorn in the side of the tiring Dunkirk defence, with his fresh legs and attacking intentions, (R) Howes pulled off a save own to his left to deny the Stags number sixteen, but within a minute, Reittie shot again and when the ball was cleared off the line, it fell to Hakeem, who claimed the result for the Stags and the match ball for himself from the rebound.
MTFC. By the light of the silvery moon.
Blake almost added a sixth goal for the Stags in the closing moments, but as he was about to shoot, Bird clipped his heels and he shot straight at the Dunkirk keeper as he stumbled.
If Reittie and Blake hadn't grown up to be a such credit to their parents and blessed with such good manners  as a consequence, they would both probably have hit the deck when they felt contact.
But that isn't meant by way of a criticism, that ruthless edge will come in time, to compliment their undoubted ability.
FT: Stags Youth 5 v Dunkirk Youth 2
Dunkirk were generously applauded from the pitch for their efforts, both on the night and in lieu of the great cup run that they have embarked on this season.
Respect is due in spades!
Well done to all concerned.
Right, when is  the next round?
We need to get those train tickets to Fulham booked ASAP.