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Young Stags unlucky to lose at Bradford

23 August 2014

Young guns beaten 2-0 by last season's champions, but plenty of encouraging signs for boss John Ramshaw.

2014/15 Football League Youth Alliance - North East Division

Bradford City 2 (Webb-Foster 2, Pollard 86)
Mansfield Town 0

An unlucky Stags side were left still searching for their first victory of the 2014/15 Football League Alliance season, as they were defeated by 2013/14 champions Bradford City at Rawdon Meadows on Saturday morning.

Unable to call upon the injured defensive pair of Levi Walker and Mo Susso, Academy Director John Ramshaw shuffled the pack a little from last Saturday's 3-2 home defeat to Grimsby Town, with midfielder Joe Fitzpatrick making his first start of the season and Adam Bishop starting in goal.

Striker George Holloway also passed a late fitness test to be included on the bench and goalkeeper Frazer Hampson was also given a spot amongst the substitutes, after an impressive performance against Hallam in midweek.

Ramshaw's youngsters were eager to make amends for their defensive frailties, which contributed to their narrow loss the previous weekend but yet again, the Stags made life difficult for themselves by conceding inside the opening two minutes, after Reece Webb-Foster caught out the flat Mansfield back line, to coolly slot the ball past a hapless Bishop.

Despite the early set back, Mansfield eased back into the game and looked the more likely to find the net for the rest of the half, coming close to an equaliser on three occasions.

Firstly, Dan Fletcher's point-blank header was acrobatically tipped over the bar by Chandler Hallwood in the Bradford goal, on 17 minutes.

On the half-hour mark, Fletcher rattled the Bradford crossbar, after a viciously whipped in free-kick from Conor Green was flicked towards goal by the forward, at the near-post.

Five minutes from the break, Chris Spencer's weighted corner kick found Drew Gibson at the far post, but his headed effort was denied thanks to another good save from Hallwood.

The second half began with few chances for either side until the 64th minute, when the ever-dangerous Fletcher forced yet another quality save at Hallwood's near-post, after racing clear of the Bantams' defence.

The young Stags continued to defend resolutely and kept themselves in the game with a series of excellent challenges and blocks, whenever Bradford pushed into the final third. This culminated in a last-gasp goal line clearance from Kyle Hempshall on 84 minutes, after Webb-Foster had rounded Bishop to get his shot in at goal.

The weather conditions had been ideal for football up until the 86th minute, when heavy rain began to fall and as the heavens opened so did the Mansfield defence, as Bradford's captain James Pollard capitalised on a sweeping counter-attack to effectively end the game as a contest, scoring his side's second goal.

Sadly, there was no way back for the Stags in the last few minutes, but boss Ramshaw will have been buoyed by many areas of his team's performance, including dominating large parts of the game and creating numerous, good scoring chances.

Team: Bishop, Koczalski, Green, Brownlie, Gibson, Hempshall, Blake, Spencer (c) (Danquah), Fletcher, Dwyer (Thompson), Fitzpatrick (Thomson). Subs not used: Holloway, Hampson (GK).

Attendance: 60 (approx).

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