Stags and Spireites share the points in an entertaining clash.The Football League Youth Alliance - North East Division - 2014/15
Saturday 09 August 2014
Chesterfield 1 (Randle 62)
Mansfield Town 1 (Marshall (og) 46)
The Stags made a welcome return to the Football League Youth Alliance on Saturday morning, as Academy Director John Ramshaw's side travelled to face their fierce local rivals Chesterfield, in the opening round of fixtures for the 2014/15 campaign.
Finishing as Football Conference Youth Alliance (Midland Division) runners-up and H-K-L North Midlands League champions last term, Ramshaw's youngsters were be looking to build on last season's successes, whilst pitting their wits against their fellow Football League opponents' academy sides.
A string of unfortunate pre-season injuries meant that Ramshaw was unable to call upon several key playing including Adam Bishop, Jack Koczalski, Oli Roome, Mo Susso and Levi Walker, but starting debuts were handed out to midfielders Drew Gibson and Tyler Blake and left-back Louis Danquah, whilst fifteen year-olds Kieran Harrison and Sam Wilson were both named on the bench.
A combination of the immaculate, new-season surface at Hasland Cylinder Sports Ground and a gusting wind, suggested both sides would be keeping the ball on the deck and this generally proved to be the case, in a half where neither team could find the opening goal.
The Stags had some good spells of pressure in the opening 45 minutes, but failed to trouble Myles Wright in the Spireites' goal, whilst the home created the better chances.
However, Stags' keeper Jahquil Kumari-Hill held firm and comfortably stopped the four shots Chesterfield had on target , whilst his defence continued to look solid, especially when dealing with high balls and crosses aimed towards their own box.
A much more entertaining second-half exploded into life inside the first 30 seconds, when Mansfield took the lead thanks to an own goal from Spireites defender Tom Marshall, after he flicked the ball into his own net from Conor Green's corner-kick.
The goal was the catalyst for the game to open up a little more, as the home side looked for an equaliser, but it was the Stags who took full advantage of the extra space and looked odds-on to double their lead.
Firstly, just after the goal, Dan Fletcher caught Chesterfield's Wright off his line, but his attempt at a cheeky lob was just a little too high and finished up clearing the crossbar.
Then on 59 minutes, Gibson rattled his opponent's woodwork after sticking a foot out through a melee of defenders inside the six-yard box. Frustratingly, the ball bounced back off the underside of the bar and into the goal-mouth,where his team-mates could not get on the end of the rebound.
On 62 minutes, last season's top goalscorer Fletcher was awarded a penalty, after being chopped down in the area, but unfortunately for the marksman his rather tame effort was a comfortable claim for the Spireites' keeper.
Within seconds of the miss, Chesterfield found themselves back on level terms and Luke Randle's equaliser proved to be another turning point in the game, as the hosts then piled on the pressure on the Mansfield goal.
A combination of poor finishing from the home side and more excellent goalkeeping from Kumari-Hill ensured the scores remained level and then with six minutes remaining, substitute George Holloway almost won the game for the Stags, only for his well-placed effort to be superbly stopped by Wright.
Two more wide efforts were to follow from the Spireites before, in the final minute of the ninety, Holloway found himself through on goal after some neat footwork to fool the home defence, but sadly, after all the hard work had been done, the forward's finish was a poor one and despite another frantic four minutes of added-on time, both sides had to settle for a draw.
Team: Kumari-Hill, Blake, Danquah, Brownlie, Hempshall (Gray 74), Gibson, Thomson (Harrison 82), Spencer (C), Fletcher, Damar-Thompson (Holloway 77), Green. Subs: Wilson (GK), Fitzpatrick.