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Young Stags edged out by Mariners

17 August 2014

Gibson nets a brace, but Stags left to rue early mistakes.

The Football League Youth Alliance - North East Division - 2014/15
Saturday 16 August 2014

Mansfield Town 2 (Gibson 34, 81)
Grimsby Town 3 (Appleby 1, Wroot 11, Barnett 69)

A plucky Stags side were left to rue two early errors, as they were defeated by Grimsby Town in their first home encounter of their 2014/15 Football League Youth Alliance campaign, at Debdale Lane Sports Ground.

Academy Director John Ramshaw's youngsters were keen to build on their positive 1-1 draw at local rivals Chesterfield last weekend and were buoyed by the return of 17 year-old centre-back Jack Koczalski, who returned from injury for his first appearance of the season, whilst forward Anthony Dwyer made his youth debut after being named in the starting xi.

However, Mansfield found themselves two goals down inside the opening 11 minutes, firstly Will Appleby capitalised on Jahquil Kumari-Hill's mistake to get on the end of a Grimsby corner to fire home from the edge of the area after just 60 seconds, then on 11 minutes, James Wroot doubled the Mariners' lead after more hesitation from Kumari-Hill and the Stags' defence.

Ramshaw felt a change of goalkeeper was required on 17 minutes, as Adam Bishop was brought on for a confidence-sapped Kumari-Hill.

The Stags didn't let their heads drop, however, and three minutes later, Louis Danquah nearly halved the deficit with an effort from 25 yards out, which just creeped over the Grimsby crossbar.

Bishop was called into action on 28 minutes with a fine double save, as the away side continued to look dangerous from corner-kicks and crosses.

Mansfield did get their reward soon afterwards, when Drew Gibson's neatly-placed long-range effort found it's way into the net, to give his team a deserved lifeline going into the break.

The Stags began the second half in much more commanding fashion and looked the more likely to find the net until they were hit with a sucker punch on 69 minutes, when Grimsby's Jordan Barnett leapt high above the home defence to head home at the near-post.

Much to their credit, Ramshaw's side once again refused to throw in the towel and they were back within one goal on 81 minutes, thanks to Gibson's second of the game.

In an almost carbon copy of his first half strike, the young midfielder let fly from 20 yards with a well-placed low shot to the Grimsby keeper's right, leaving the Stags with 10 precious minutes to find an equaliser.

Frustratingly, a game-tying goal could not be found as the Mariners defence stood firm in the dying minutes, Dan Fletcher came the closest early in stoppage-time but his half-chance from wide on the right, failed to worry the Grimsby goal.

Overall, it was a disappointing loss for the Stags who at times struggled with Grimsby's height advantage in their own penalty area, but there were still a number of positives for Ramshaw's youngsters to take away, as they prepare for an away trip to last season's Football League Youth Alliance North East champions - Bradford City, next Saturday.

Team: Kumari-Hill (Bishop 17), Blake, Danquah, Brownlie, Koczalski, Hempshall, Gibson, Spencer (c) (Harrison 75), Fletcher, Dwyer (Holloway 70), Green. Subs: Thomson, Fitzpatrick.

Attendance: 60 (approx).

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