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Club News

Young guns claim draw on opening day

9 August 2015

Club News

Young guns claim draw on opening day

9 August 2015

A late Cain Smith penalty earned our youngsters an opening day draw in the Football League Youth Alliance at home to Lincoln City yesterday afternoon.

Smith converted from 12 yards to cancel out Lincoln's first half breakthrough.

The young Stags welcomed a more experienced Lincoln City squad to Kirklington Road yesterday, made up almost entirely of second year academy players, while our youngsters started the game with just four second year boys in a team that included several new starters.

The game was earmarked as a difficult opening game for Mansfield, but after an initial early spell of pressure from the Imps, the home side went on to prove that they were up to the challenges this fixture presented them.

Inside the first ten minutes, Mansfield weathered an early Imps' storm and Teddy Bloor had to be on hand twice to make two goal line clearances from Lincoln's Sam Fawkes and Jenk Acar.

The visitors' captain Richard Walton was an imposing figure inside the Imps' area for much of the contest, and he was on hand in the early stages to cut out Zayn Hakeem's right wing cross to Devante Reittie, as the Stags' first attack of note came to nothing.

Bloor, who had already played a starring role in the Stags' defence, caused problems on the right flank for lincoln in the opening stages and linked up well with the Stags' forwards.

Lincoln came close to breaking the deadlock again when Leon Loftus crashed a header narrowly wide of the left hand post from a Clarke corner.

The Stags began to ease into the match and almost drew first blood when Drew Wilson played a great ball into the path of Tyler Blake, but Walton dashed five yards out of his area to clear the danger.

Clarke delivered another telling dead ball into the Stags' box, but Mansfield 'keeper Sam Wilson had positioned himself well to deal with Clarke's header.

Then came the opening goal, on 32 minutes. Lincoln's Matt Clarke played a neat one-two with Lewis Millington on the edge of the Stags' box before drilling the ball past Wilson to break the deadlock.

On the balance of play the visitors deserved their lead, but after Clarke was denied a second goal by Wilson thirty seconds later, the alarm bells sounded and the Stags sprang into action.

Stags headed forward in the search for an equaliser before the break when Bloor beat his man on the right and picked out Reittie, but Walton was in a determined mood and he smothered the ball to thwart the Stags' number 10.

Tyler Blake delivered the ball into the Imps' six yard box from the left flank, where the defence could only clear it as far as Cain Smith on the edge of the box, but his speculative shot was held by Walton.

Then, both Ellis Ogle and the Stags' captain Blake had hopeful shots charged down as the Imps closed ranks with half time fast approaching.

Early in the second half, Smith knocked a defence splitting pass into the path of Reittie, but Fixter tripped him just outside the box.

Zayn Hakeem back heeled the free kick into the path of Ogle, but the Stags' striker couldn't quite get over the ball and he blasted it over the bar.

Lincoln attacked again and forced a corner out on the left which Callum Stewart scuffed a shot through a crowded defence, where Jack McMenemy toe poked it against the crossbar.

The crowd were in uproar when Ellis Ogle rode two attempted fouls by Fixter and Walton, stayed on his feet and advanced towards the open goal, only for the referee to blow up and pull play back for a free kick. 

In the event, the referee booked both of the Imps' players, but that didn't pacify the home fans at all, particularly when Walton grabbed the ball from Louis Danquah's free kick before any of the Stags players jostling for position in the area could get near it.

Soon after, Bloor attacked down the right wing again, but Walton snatched the ball from beneath Reittie's head.

Walton was evidently unfazed at being involved in what most saw as a complete injustice as Lincoln 'keeper proved to be a thorn in the Stags' side.

Lincoln were then forced to play the remainder of the game with ten men as Fixter was shown a second yellow card and sent for an early bath.

Stags pushed into the final third once more when Henry Britton sent Reittie clear with a great threaded ball from midfield, but Walton came to his side's rescue again.

If Mansfield had started the game under the cosh, they had certainly turned the tables now and were very much in the ascendancy.

Smith's left wing corner was met by Danquah, but the header from the Stags' left-back was blocked once again by Walton.

With just two minutes of the scheduled ninety remaining, Smith broke into the Lincoln area and as he lined up to pull the trigger, Lincoln's Stewart nudged him in the back, to take him to ground.

The referee pointed to the spot and Smith did well to keep his composure after several players got involved in heated exchanges which delayed the spot kick being taken.

Walton went the right way but Smith had placed the ball beyond his reach just inside the post to grab a late equaliser for Mansfield on the opening day of their Football League Youth Alliance campaign.

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