Saturday, 18 November 2017

Mansfield Town 1 v Bradford City 0 - EFLYA U18

Saturday 18th November 2017
EFL U18 Youth Alliance (North)
at Kirklington Road, Rainworth MWFC
Mansfield Town (0) 1
Riley O'Sullivan 77 pen
Bradford City (0) 0
'Point and hope' photo gallery HERE
Mansfield Town:
Harrison Davidson, Cam Weston, Henri Wilder, JackCornell, Steve Johnson, Aiden Walker, Nyle Blake, Jake Dumbleton, Iyewah Gooden, Keaton Ward, Riley O'Sullivan
Subs - Keaton Mars, Sam Jackson, Harry Bircumshaw, Luke Morgan, Rhys Sarson
Bradford City:
George Sykes-Kenworthy, Jeremie Milambo, Reece Staunton, Sam Wright, Josef Hefele, Oliver Kirkpatrick, Raeece Ellington, Jake Maltby, Albert Ibrahimi, Matt Birchall, Reece Powell
Subs - Alfie Darke, Neil Patience, Kielen Adams, Dylan Drovi, Junayd Pandor
An away win (by a margin of three goals) against Burton Albion on Tuesday afternoon, will see the reigning back to back champions, Mansfield Town, climb above Oldham Athletic and move to the top of the Youth Alliance (north) table; after today's narrow 1-0 win, courtesy of a seventy seventh minute Riley O'Sullivan penalty, saw the young Stags move sharply up the table from fifth to second, as just reward for a hard working performance against a resilient Bradford City side.
When Rainworth was chosen as a site for wind turbines, somebody had done their research well, and yet again, the biting north wind whipped across the Kirklington Road pitch, making things awkward for both teams and affecting the end to end flow of the game.
George Sykes-Kenworthy the Bantams goalkeeper was commanding his area well from the outset, as Jake Dumbleton and Riley O'Sullivan battled against a packed defence, to find the final touch from the service given to them by Keaton Ward and Nyle Blake, who started out wide on the left flank, but moved to right back for fifteen minutes or so as the Stags switched to four at the back to preserve their hard won lead, while Cam Weston looked comfortable when he moved inside to link up with the solid partnership of Steve Johnson and Aiden Walker, who compliment each other well, which allowed Henri Wilder to get forward more on the left, where the Stags captain is understandably attracting a lot of attention for his powerhouse performances.
Jack Cornell continues to impress me in midfield, working non stop as a link man, putting a foot in, breaking up a string of potential Bradford attacks and playing the simple passes that kept the Stags ticking over, without being over elaborate. He's the kind of player who might get overlooked by those sort of people who only remember the goals and glamorous moments once the final whistle has sounded, but the Mansfield coaches will appreciate his worth to the team and the effort he put in today.
The visitors right back, Jeremie Milambo, was all over any Stags player who ventured into his territory like a rash, with a no holds barred approach to the game that annoys the hell out of opponents and attracts the attention of match officials. Respect is due to Dumbleton, who held his own didn't let this kind of 'man marking' Knock him out of his stride unduly, but in Milambo, Bradford obviously have a decent battling prospect who has the attributes required to make the step up from development team football when he comes of age.
Dumbleton drew his marker and slipped the ball sideways to Wilder who picked out Blake with a left wing delivery, but Sykes-Kenworthy saved the resulting shot.
Wilder got free on the left again and crossed towards Dumbleton, who was crowded out by three Bradford defenders and couldn't get his shot away.
Ward dropped a precision delivery for Steve Johnson who had made a run forward at a corner, but obviously the visitors keeper has been working hard in training, on dealing with crosses and he got up well to claim the ball. I'm not so sure that I'd be too keen in getting in the way of Steve Johnson charging towards me at full tilt with no intention of putting the brakes on, but each to their own.
Right at the end of the first half, Walker dealt with two dangerous looking balls into the Stags area from Reece Powell, taking the first off of Raeece Ellington and blocking the second before it reached Albert Ibrahimi. Aiden Walker patiently waited in the wings last season, making just a few fleeting appearances, but he's grasped his opportunity to make an impression with both hands this season and been a model of consistency.
HT: Stags 0 v Bantams 0
He having seen off both Grimsby Town and Rotherham United away from home in the FA Youth Cup, earning themselves a home tie in the third round against Crystal Palace, the Stags youngsters seasons as clicked into gear at just the right time, as the second year players and newcomers begin to gel and though they laboured at times in testing conditions today, while meeting fire with fire and not allowing themselves to be intimidated against a physical Bradford side, who resolutely kept their well drilled shape, they had that extra bit of quality to see the game out and claim maximum points.
Ward released Wilder on the left wing, but Sykes-Kenworthy dealt with his cross again. Wilder returned moments later and delivered a lower ball across the face of goal, that Blake connected with at full stretch, but could only divert over the bar. 
The visitors conceded a free kick twenty yards out, Wilder curled the ball towards the top right corner, but the Bantams keeper claimed it. 
Wilder was fired up and revelling in getting forward more, Iyrwah Gooden held the ball up well and threaded it through to meet Wilder's overlapping run, but Josef Hefele bravely put his body in the way and block the Stag captain's shot. Cornell picked out Wilder with a clever diagonal ball, but Milambro charged across and hooked the ball away.
Modern day football is a squad game and Sam Jackson added some fresh impetus to the Stags forward play through the left channel, while Rhys Sarson and Harry Bircumshaw, combined to chip away at the tiring visitors defence, who'd put in a shift and a half.
Sarson ran straight at the Bradford defence and as they broke rank to intercept his run, nudged the ball through to Wilder whose shot was well saved. On any other day, Wilder could've had a hat trick by now, such was his influence on the Stags attack.
Blake's long throw was flicked on by Wilder and O'Sullivan's crashing shot was blocked, giving Milambo the chance to hook the ball away for another throw in. Which Blake took and found the head of Walker whose nod across the face of the visitors goal was scrambled away.
From the next Mansfield attack, Walker challenged for the ball just inside the Bradford area and when Oliver Kirkpatrick grabbed the Stags defenders shoulders, the referee blew up and pointed to the penalty spot.
Sykes-Kenworthy went the right way, but the ferocity of O'Sullivan's precision strike into the bottom right hand corner, made the Bradford keeper look as though he'd dived in slow motion.
O'Sullivan almost doubled the Stags lead moments later, when a good knock from Sarson put him through one on one with Sykes-Kenworthy, but when he rolled the ball past the advancing keeper, Milambo raced back and slid in to turn the ball away off the line.
With the clock ticking down, Blake who was now back in attack, as the Stags made another seamless tactical switch, had the chance to put the result out of Bradford's reach, but when Sarson's pass sent him running through the right channel,he didn't get enough power behind his shot to trouble the visitors ever reliable keeper.
Right at the death, Mansfield were almost hit with a sucker punch, when Junayd Pandor, who had impressed since entering the fray as a late substitute, struck a long range shot that skimmed narrowly wide of the left hand post. Phew!
Harrison Davidson, playing in goal, in place of the the injured Xavier Sundby, had a steady enough game although he was rarely seriously tested, but his team mates had won the day, thanks to his clean sheet (the Stags fourth in a row) and O'Sullivan's well struck penalty.
Mansfield had enough chances to win by a higher margin, but the visitors defence and their keeper played well, on a horrible windy day, so all told, a win is a win and another three points hasn't done the young Stags chances of winning another league title any harm at all.
FT: Mansfield Town U18 1 v Bradford City U18 0