Bishop red carded, but youngsters show spirit to battle back.
Our youth team picked up a valuable point in a 1-1 draw with Solihull Moors in the Football Conference Youth Alliance (Midland Division).
The Stags fell behind on the half-hour mark and then had goalkeeper Adam Bishop sent-off before the break, but despite the numerical disadvantage they were by far the better team in the second half.
Solihull looked to be on course to register victory until the fourth minute of added time when Solihull’s Nathaniel Williams accidentally headed the ball beyond his own ‘keeper to even things up.
A point was the very least the Stags deserved for the effort, character and desire that they showed in tough and challenging conditions.
Luca Gregory, Jack Hutchinson and Asa Shelton were amongst those to impress.
On a blustery afternoon in the West Midlands, the early exchanges were quite even with David Jones going close for Mansfield at one end, before Bishop was forced into a smart save at the other end soon afterwards.
The wind favoured Solihull in the opening 45 minutes and the hosts opened the scoring just after the half-hour when they launched a counter-attack following a Stags corner which broke down and Umir Zaman managed to slip a low shot past Bishop and into the net.
The Mansfield shot-stopper was again in the spotlight a couple of minutes later when he received a red card after an innocuous incident with a Solihull striker. With no substitute ‘keeper available on the bench, Liam Groves swapped a midfield role for the goalkeepers gloves and took up a position between the sticks.
Despite being on the back foot after what was an extremely disappointing first half, Mansfield turned the tables and had Solihull penned back for the vast majority of the second half.
Hutchinson hit the woodwork straight from a corner prior to the hour mark, whilst Jones also went close with a powerful snap-shot which was smothered by the ‘keeper at his near-post.
Mansfield continued to apply plenty of pressure as time ticked away and created more chances with substitute Denham Saxton curling a free-kick over the target and Blaize Punter having a header saved by the home ‘keeper.
With a quarter-of-an-hour remaining the impressive Gregory latched onto a partially-cleared corner and hit a dipping half-volley, which was tipped around the post.
The Stags dominated possession and really had Solihull on the back-foot – forcing a series of corners in the closing stages, which, frustratingly, all came to nothing.
However, just when it looked as though the hosts might hang on for all three points, they came unstuck. Max McLeod whipped a ball the area and with Shelton applying pressure, Solihull’s right-back accidentally headed past his own ‘keeper.
It was a hard-earned and thoroughly deserved point for the young Stags, who are in action again tomorrow night when they take on Handsworth Parramore in the H-K-L North Midlands League Cup semi-finals.
Team: Bishop, Gregory, Punter, Holmes, Chavundura, Hutchinson, McLeod, Shelton, Slade (Saxton), Jones, Groves.