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Young Stags thump Halifax

19 December 2012

Our magnificent youngsters will sit top of the Football Conference Youth Alliance North Division table on Christmas Day after they romped to a comfortable 3-0 victory over FC Halifax Town this afternoon.

The Stags, who produced a mature performance in difficult conditions in West Yorkshire, went ahead when Jordan Jones headed home from close range on 52 minutes.

Striker Joe Flint doubled the advantage from a powerful free-kick on the hour mark, awarded after Jones, who was terrific throughout, was hacked down by Ghorji Hanbury on the edge of the area.

Flint struck again in the late stages as he ruthlessly blazed into the bottom corner, following some exceptional work inside the six-yard box from the outstanding Jones.

Due to the hosts’ usual venue in Brighouse being unavailable due to a waterlogged pitch, the encounter was instead played almost 30 miles away at Sandygate Lane in Fitzwilliam.

On a narrow pitch that cut up badly as the game progressed, Stags’ shot-stopper Ryan Hopkins bravely clutched the ball at the feet of Halifax frontman Sylbert Stewart in an early one-on-one.

Benny Igheon was also denied by Hopkins following a right-wing cross from Stewart, whilst Jack Hawkins saw a vicious shot blocked by the face of Blues midfielder Josh Messer at the other end.

Mansfield skipper Kurtis Turner almost picked out Jack Thomas when he floated a fine set-piece ball deep into the danger area on the half-hour mark, but the hosts soon enjoyed their best spell of pressure.

Both Tom Halton and Stewart fired narrowly wide in quick succession, as Hopkins was only tested when he gathered a low drive from the latter of the aforementioned duo, shortly prior to the interval.

The Stags, with the wind in the favour, looked in total control after the re-start and came close to an opener when Thomas fired wide from an acute angle.

Flint then saw a speculative shot tipped over by Jacob Collier on 49 minutes, but the striker turned provider only moments later when his beautiful cross towards the back-post was headed home by Jones.

Halifax threatened an instant response as Halton’s low left-footed drive drew a fine save from Hopkins, before Mansfield doubled their lead midway through the second period.

Jones showed exceptional trickery as he cut inside from the right flank and went to ground on the edge of the box after a mis-judged lunge from Hanbury.

From the subsequent set-piece delivery, Flint stepped forward and rifled a powerful drive into the bottom left-hand corner to record his third league goal of the campaign.

Des Hazel’s Halifax side struggled to break down the defence of their resilient counterparts, which was superbly marshalled by Jason Gregory and Ben Birch.

Instead, it was the visitors who continued to pose a more serious threat and Turner came close with a sumptuous free-kick that forced a fine fingertip save from Collier.

The Stags completed the rout on 83 minutes when Turner’s long ball into the six-yard box was expertly laid off by Jones, which allowed Flint to venomously fire home from close range.

Mansfield: Hopkins, Coupe, Gregory, Birch, Vincent, J. Jones, Turner (c), Thomas, Vilums (M. Jones), Hawkins (Davis), Flint (Chambers). Subs: Williams, Lamb.

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