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Young Stags still searching for first win

7 September 2014

Stags slip to a 3-1 defeat against an accomplished Scunthorpe United team.

Our youngsters slipped to their third defeat of the campaign in the Football League Youth Alliance (East Division) on Saturday, as they lost on home soil to Scunthorpe United.

After a goalless first half, the visitors looked slick and accomplished after the re-start to achieve a 3-1 success. Mansfield’s goal came courtesy of frontman Dan Fletcher.

The Stags began brightly and forced a couple of early corners, both of which were cleared, before Conor Green’s swerving 10th minute free-kick was tipped wide by U’s ‘keeper Ben Ledger.

The Stags went close again on the quarter-hour mark when Jack Koczalski’s cross-cum-shot flew just over the crossbar.

Our youngsters’ pressure continued as fleet-footed winger Louis Danquah lost Stothard on the left-wing and managed to release a fierce shot at goal, which Ledger did well to save.

Scunthorpe’s first opening fell to Noel Burdett on 20 minutes. The U’s player cleverly dropped his shoulder to release a piercing ball through towards goal, but Adam Bishop comfortably gathered the danger.

However, the Us continued to be pushed back by the hosts and another chance was soon created as Anthony Dwyer fired a curving drive towards goal, which required Ledger to dive in order to protect his net and his team from going behind.

The Stags then bombarded the visitors’ area with numerous set-pieces and crosses, but Scunthorpe were resilient in order to keep the game goalless.

United were trying to build and play out from the back and created a real opportunity on the half-hour mark when Burdett ran the ball up the right channel before powering a shot at goal, which was admirably tipped over by a full-stretch Bishop.

Another Scunthorpe opportunity followed with a free-kick from Connor Purdue, whose excellent drive into the box found Charlie Cleminshaw, who headed just wide of the target.

United began to take control and pressured Mansfield into forcing a corner in the 40th minute. A well-rehearsed training ground routine almost gave the visitors the lead as Purdue’s corner sought out a well-timed run from Jack Dyche, whose goalbound drive was fortuitously blocked.

After a goalless opening 45 minutes, the second half began at a blistering pace and the visitors soon made a hard-earned breakthrough.

Noel Burdett was brought down on his way to goal and from the resulting free-kick, Wootton and Mawson linked up quickly, which resulted in the latter breaking through unopposed and being able to thunder a powerful shot into the net.

Things soon went from bad to worse from a Mansfield perspective as they fell 2-0 behind on 53 minutes, when a sweeping counter-attack saw Wootton chip the ball over an exposed Bishop, before it ricocheted off the unfortunate Green for an own goal.

With Scunthorpe now in a commanding position, they began to move the ball around with real purpose and intent and always looked likely to add to their two-goal advantage.

Burdett had a left-foot snap-shot saved by Bishop on 57 minutes, before Levi Sutton’s acrobatic scissor-kick attempt from a separate attack just cleared the post.

The Stags nearly responded on the hour mark when Danquah’s powerful shot just cleared the upright, and the hosts’ attacking threat was bolstered with the introduction of George Holloway.

On 67 minutes, Purdue was unable to cause danger and Mansfield broke on the counter-attack. Joe Fitzpatrick attempted to feed a ball into Holloway, but Cleminshaw ensured an interception. Seconds later, Fitzpatrick switched play out to Dwyer, but again United’s defence dealt with the danger.

The Stags finally reduced arrears when Anthony Dwyer’s curling free-kick was tipped onto the upright by the diving hand of Ledger, but the rebound fell to Dan Fletcher who smashed home from close-range.

However, just when it looked as if a grandstand finale was in store, Scunthorpe struck again to restore their two-goal advantage and make it 3-1.

An impressive run from Sutton enabled him to drive into the box just short of the right-hand post and his ball into the step of a perfectly-positioned Burdett was ruthlessly placed low into the target.

United strolled forward with intent in the closing stages and would have extended their lead had Bishop not blocked a six-yard effort from Burdett, following some excellent link-up play with Wootton.

The Stags again had to rely on their last line of defence on 82 minutes, when Burdett played a great switch inside the full-back for his partner, Wootton, who was clean through on goal, but he couldn’t beat Bishop.

Ultimately, it was a good victory for the visitors, who look capable of being a real force to be reckoned with in the Football League Youth Alliance (East Division).

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