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Stags sink Rovers to reach Round Four

10 December 2014

Youngsters beat Tranmere Rovers on penalties after enthralling contest.

2014/15 FA Youth Cup - Third Round
Wednesday 10 December 2014

Mansfield Town 2 (Shires 34, Roome 90+3)
Tranmere Rovers 2 (Ilesanmi 20, Askew 26)
Stags win 5-4 on penalties after extra-time.

Our youngsters fought back from two goals down to win a thrilling FA Youth Cup clash on penalties against Tranmere Rovers on Wednesday evening.

A goal from Corbin Shires, a last-gasp equaliser from Oli Roome and two shoot-out saves from Sam Wilson, all helped the young Stags into the next round of this prestigious competition on a freezing winter's night under the floodlights at One Call Stadium.

An impressive run of three straight victories in the league, coupled with their progress in the cup had seen our Under 18s brimming with confidence and unbeaten in their last five outings.

However, the young Stags faced formidable opposition in the shape of Rovers, who were sitting comfortably in sixth-place in the Youth Alliance's North West division, having only lost three of their 16 games, so far this campaign.

The only change to the home starting line-up from the side that beat Northampton Town in the previous round, saw Charlie Brownlie drop to the bench and be replaced by fellow centre-half Jack Koczalski.

On that occasion, the Stags found themselves comfortably ahead early on, in their Second Round win over the Cobblers, thanks to a Dan Fletcher hat-trick inside the opening 25 minutes, but in almost a full reversal of their fortunes, it was Tranmere who found themselves 2-0 ahead after the same period, this time around.

A cagey opening 15 minutes began with both sides testing each other out and no real chances forthcoming from either team, but it was clear the visitors had some skillful talent on display, with the side from the Wirral pressing the Stags' defence with a handful of mazy runs towards Wilson's goal.

On 19 minutes, Conor Green almost created a dangerous chance with a viciously whipped in cross from the left, but the pace of the ball eluded the Stags' attack line and seconds later at the other end of the field, it was the visitors who took the lead thanks to Sam Ilesanmi's neat finish from 20 yards out, which nestled in the bottom right-hand corner of Wilson's net.

Five minutes later, Wilson had to be at his best to deny the visitors a second goal, with a strong upright save, but the 15 year-old custodian could do nothing to stop Daren Askew scoring Rovers' second, after he capitalised on space within the home defence on the edge of the six-yard box and finished with aplomb.

The Stags weren't about to throw in the towel, however, and they halved their deficit on 35 minutes, after Tranmere failed to clear a Joe Fitzpatrick corner and Shires was on-hand to smash the ball home from 10 yards out, to claim his first goal of the season.

Despite having plenty of possession in the second half, Mansfield struggled to muster an effort on goal, as they couldn’t break through a well-organised Rovers back-line.

And until Tolani Omotola's shot over the bar on 74 minutes, the visitors also struggled to worry the Mansfield goal, but with the Stags pushing forward, searching for an equaliser to take the game into extra-time, they began to leave gaps at the back for Tranmere to exploit.

Ilesanmi rattled the home post with a fierce, low shot on 83 minutes and four minutes later, Omotola skewed a shot right across the face of Wilson's goal and wide of his right-hand upright.

Wilson then had to make another superb save with less than 60 seconds left of the game, hitting the deck to once again, denying Ilesanmi, but in the third minute of stoppage-time in Mansfield's first major attacking move of the half, substitute Roome was in the right place at the right time to coolly slot the ball into the back of the net after a Chris Spencer shot ricocheted into his path and dramatically take the tie to extra-time.

As both teams began to tire, chances started to come thick and fast and a fantastic flying save from Wilson to push the ball away for a corner, on 94 minutes was quickly followed by a Fletcher one-on-one with Tranmere keeper Luke Pilling, with the goalie winning that particular battle, thanks to a grasping save from the marksman's well-placed shot.

After his long-range winner against Hartlepool last Saturday, Conor Green then tried his luck from distance after 102 minutes, but this time his effort just cleared the Rovers crossbar.

Right at the end of the first period of extra-time, the visitors were rightly reduced to 10 men, as Askew was shown a straight red card for thoughtlessly raising his hands and connecting with Koczalski, something which floored the Stags’ defender, right under the nose of the referee.

Mansfield could not make their extra man count in the second period of extra-time, with Liam Smith having the only real chance to break the deadlock for Tranmere, but his long-range effort wasn't close enough as it cleared Wilson's crossbar - thus signaling a shoot-out to decide the victors.

From the five-kicks a piece, both sides each had a penalty saved and with the Stags having scored their first in sudden death, just as he did in the First Round against Boston United, Wilson once again made himself the hero by stopping Tranmere's effort to put his team into the hat for Friday's Fourth Round draw, with all ties to be played on or before 17th January 2015.

Team: Wilson, Slone (Walker), Green, Shires (Roome), Koczalski, Hempshall, Dwyer (Harrison), Spencer (c), Fletcher, Blake, Fitzpatrick.

Attendance: 147.

More to follow…


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