Young Stags sink Espial F.C. in top-of-table encounter.Our youngsters turned on the style as they eased to a 4-1 win over local rivals Espial F.C. to move joint-top of the H-K-L North Midlands League.
On a wet and miserable night, the Stags provided just the performance to warm the appetite and send out a clear message of intent to other teams in the division.
Ollie Roome opened the scoring, before second half strikes by Dan Fletcher, Charlie Brownlie and Joe Fitzpatrick completed an emphatic victory.
The Stags, seeking revenge on the league leaders for a 2-1 defeat a fortnight ago, started at a blistering tempo and reaped the rewards after just 12 minutes.
Louis Danquah’s finely floated corner into the area caused mass confusion amongst the home defence, allowing an unmarked Drew Gibson to head goalwards towards Roome, who guided the ball into an empty net.
Espial threatened a response, but they were constantly thwarted by Frazer Hampson, who pulled off two or three good saves to protect Mansfield’s lead going into the half-time interval.
After a closely-contested first 45 minutes, the Stags upped the ante in the second period and doubled their advantage shortly after the re-start.
The outstanding Tom Slone showed excellent ability to dispossess his marker and bring the ball forward, before Roome’s pass a few moments later pierced the Espial defence and found Fletcher, who despite being pulled to ground on the edge of the six-yard box, still had the technique to turn the ball home.
Espial quickly halved their deficit thanks to a sumptuous top corner finish by Jordan Hendley, but instead of the hosts launching a comeback, Mansfield always looked likely to pull further ahead.
Defender Elliot Holmes saw a goalbound header plucked out of the air by home custodian Jason Alexander, before livewire full-back Slone let fly with a curling 20-yard strike which flew just an inch over the upright.
Anthony Dwyer also had a powerful effort smothered by Alexander at his near-post, having done brilliantly to outmuscle his marker and keep the ball in play on the right-wing.
Espial’s defence were then unlocked courtesy of another set-piece goal which had a shade of good fortune about it.
Fitzpatrick whipped a routine free-kick into the area towards Brownlie and his deft touch diverted the ball beyond the ‘keeper, who was dismayed at the marking by his team-mates.
Things then got even better as the Stags soon made it 4-1 with a goal from another set-piece.
Danquah this time provided an inswinging free-kick towards the back-post, which was headed back across goal by Brownlie and allowing Fitzpatrick to steer the ball home.
Substitute Rory Thomson could have added a fifth goal with a quarter-of-an-hour remaining, when Drew Gibson’s deft header put him clean through, but his goalbound strike was saved by the ‘keeper.
Slone capped off his superb individual display with two magnificent goal-line clearances in the dying seconds – using his face to block one shot, before blocking the follow-up effort with his thigh.
Team: Hampson, Slone, Hempshall (Holmes), Gibson, Brownlie, Danquah, Spencer (C), Fitzpatrick, Blake (Thomson), Fletcher, Roome (Dwyer).
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