Saturday, 18 March 2017

Mansfield Town 3 v Hartlepool United 1 - EFLYA (NE)

Saturday 18th March 2017
EFL Youth Alliance (NE)
at the Worksop Van Hire Stadium, Clipstone FC
Mansfield Town (1) 3
Henri Wilder 44, Zayn Hakeem 82, 89
Hartlepool United (1) 1
Lewis Orrell 38
A few more photos HERE
Mansfield Town:
Sam Wilson, Teddy Bloor, Kane Baldwin, Surafel Behailu (Jason Law 69), Morgan Ratcliffe (C), Kieran Harrison, Henri Wilder, Cameron Healey, Devante Reittie (Zayn Hakeem 65), Alistair Smith (Nyle Blake 65) Keaton Ward
Unused subs - Xavier Sundby, Aiden Walker
Hartlepool United:
Scott Moloney, Cameron Holliday, Jack Cooper, Lewis Orrell, Jacob Owen, Jordan Fielding (C), Joe Jackson, Jon Weirs, Connor Simpson (Josh Bayne 69), Liam Travers, Niall Short (Ryan Robinson 46)
Unused subs - Ryan Catterick, Liam Pritchard, Danny Boyle
The workaholic midfield mainstay Cain Smith has gone out on loan until the end of the season, so it looks as though we won't be seeing him with the Stags Under 18 side again.
His input and contribution to the team over these past two seasons has been immense, possibly even immeasurable at times.
Fearlessly sticking a foot in where others might be reluctant to, adding no small amount of essential bite to the middle of the park, that many an opponent felt the full force of, linking up with his team mates both in defence and attack, while weighing in with more than his share of goals, he has won many admirers among those who watch the team regularly. His shrewd reading of the game and any given situation shows maturity beyond his years.
Obviously, football is a massive turnover industry, with people coming and going and passing through all the time... and I would hate to have the job of saying whether any player should stay or move on, in their best interests and/or those of the club.
But I am 100% certain that Cain has a future in the game, whether it be at Mansfield Town or elsewhere. And I hope and pray that he never loses his belief in his own abilities.
But it isn't just the player that a whole lot of us are going to miss... his family travelled all over the country to support him and the team with us, week in, week out; they are a smashing bunch of people, who it has been an absolute pleasure to spend time in the company of.
Some teams suffer from pushy parent syndrome, but there is none of that with the Mansfield Town youth team, everybody supports everybody else... and it was very quiet in the stand today without the Smith family being around. Their presence was sorely missed this afternoon and it will continue to be the case.
The first person to message me after the game asking "How have the lads gone on today?" was Cain's grandmother... which says a lot.
Good luck with whatever direction you decide to take at the end of the season 'Smudge' and fondest regards to his family too.
I respect the people who have difficult decisions to make and don't envy their position or predicament one bit. One can only hope that Cain Smith has taken enough out of his two year stay with the Stags Academy side as he put in.
The young Stags kicked off today's game sitting in second place in the EFLYA (NE) table, three points behind Oldham Athletic, but with a game in hand over their championship rivals.
Tony Philliskirk's Latics side didn't play today, but they took a blow to their title aspirations last time out, when they were beaten 2-1 at home by Lincoln City.
Mansfield's Academy would have needed to win by a six goal margin today to return to the top of the league on goal difference, but today's result sets up next weekends top of the table clash nicely, when John Dempster's side travel to Oldham for a 'high noon' shoot out; it's a game that will be an acid test of the credentials of both sides.
John Hewitson's Pools arrived at Clipstone languishing in tenth place, but Mansfield knew not to underestimate their visitors from Teeside, who actually won the reverse fixture between these two sides, back in October of this season, at Blackhall Colliery Welfare, when they grabbed a 1-0 win with a stoppage time goal; and today's visitors were also unbeaten in both games against the title winning Stags last term, when they overturned a 1-0 half time deficit to win 3-1 in April up in the north east and left Clipstone with a point having claimed a 2-2 draw with another late goal last October.
Hartlepool's main attacking threat, Liam Travers, who scored in two of his last three games against the Stags, went to ground in  the home side's penalty area inside the opening minute, with Morgan Ratcliffe tracking his run, but the referee deemed that no contact had been made and waved play on.
Hartlepool defended a couple of corners and it became apparent that goals would be a difficult commodity to come by today against such a determined rearguard action, but Ali Smith and Devante Reittie were keeping the visitors busy inside the final third.
The Stags first real chance was carved out by Teddy Bloor,who made himself the space to unleash a shot from fifteen yards out, that whistled inches past the right hand upright.
Kieran Harrison won the ball in midfield and drilled a pass forward to the feet of Reittie, who rode one challenge, but was denied a goal by Jordan Fielding's last ditch challenge.
The visitors pushed forward through the right channel but Henri Wilder was well placed to intercept the ball from Lewis Orrell and deal with the threat. Wilder put in a great shift today, all over the park in difficult conditions weather wise, so credit where it is due.
Surafel Behailu spotted a gap in the Pools defence and picked out Keaton Ward, who forced a good reaction save from Scott Moloney at the expense of a corner. Bloor delivered the ball in from the right and Harrison's downward header was cleared off the line.
Moments later Hartlepool conceded another corner, which Wilder took and picked out Reittie who flicked the ball into the path of Cameron Healey, but the big midfield enforcer couldn't keephis first time shot on target,
Faced with a packed defence, Reittie dribbled past two opponents, before laying the ball off to Smith, who took the ball under control but couldn't get his shot away because Maloney had dived bravely at his feet and gathered the ball.
Bloor dropped another dangerous ball into the Pools defence, but the visitors got the ball away and moved it quickly from box to box, but Ward had read the situation well and put in a blocking tackle on Orrell.
In the thirty eighth minute, Orrell took three paces back from the ball thirty yards from goal and weighed up his options and with a scrum of players jostling for position ahead of him, the Pools number four found the top corner of the net with a well executed free kick.
Mansfield were almost on level terms from the restart but Ward, having beaten Moloney all ends up, saw his shot from outside the area fly wide of the post.
With half time rapidly approaching, Reittie picked up the ball in a congested goalmouth, battled gamely to keep possession and then rolled the ball to his left, where Wilder planted it just inside the left hand post to net the equaliser.
HT: Stags 1 v Pools 1
Travers tested Sam Wilson in the opening exchanges of the second half, but the Stags keeper dealt with his dipping shot.
Behailu and Wilder made inroads into Hartlepool's  half and sent Ward on a run forward, but the home side spotted his run and the move broke down as  three players surrounded him.
Joe Jackson moved forward and slid a pass through the Stags defence to Travers, who put the ball over from ten yards out, with Wilson moving forward to block him.
The Pools defence were soaking up a lot of pressure, but the Stags had a let off when the visitors countered and Travers headed over from Ryan Robinson's right wing cross.
Nyle Blake and Zayn Hakeem were both introduced from the bench, with Jason Law joining them a few minutes later, in a bid to put Hartlepool on the back foot and make an impact with some fresh legs, against a visitors defence who must have been tiring by now, given how much graft they had already put in.
The tactical move worked a treat.
Harrison picked out Bloor on the right with a long free kick and he went down in the area under a heavy challenge, but the ref waved for play to go on. Harrison ventured forward on the left again and seeing that the Pools defence had his team mates surrounded, had a ping himself from twenty five yards out that skimmed the outside of the right hand post.
Once more, Harrison powered forward and crossed to Hakeem, who despite the (very) close attention of Fielding, managed to turn on the spot and get his shot on target, but Moloney held onto the ball determinedly.
The workhorse that is Kieran Harrison advanced forward on  the left, where he had by now taken up a residency and played a slide rule pass forward to Law, who held the ball up before releasing Hakeem, ten yards from goal, but he put it wide.
Jack Cooper almost put the Stags ahead in the eightieth minute, when he headed the ball back to Maloney with a bit more power than the Pools keeper had anticipated, but he just about managed to make the save from his own left back.
Josh Bayne paused for a moment on the ball, weighing up his options and Blake was in like a flash to steal possession and feed a pass into the path of Hakeem, who wasted no time in whipping it past Maloney to give the Stags the lead for the first time, in the eighty second minute.
Hakeem almost turn provider from the next attack, but Law turned his sideways pass just over the bar.
In the very last minute, Hartlepool made a mess of clearing their lines from Laws right wing corner and Hakeem who had instinctively followed the flight of the ball and gambled on Maloney not raching it, was on hand to score the Stags third, with a simple tap in.
As the game went into closing time, Maloney made two saves to keep out Law and Blake, as the inspired substitutions tactic almost provided even more reward for the Stags.
FT: Mansfield Town 3 v Hartlepool United 1