Mansfield Town’s Under 18s were defeated for the first time this season after a 2-0 defeat to Shrewsbury Town in the Football League Youth Alliance Cup on Saturday.
The Shrews arrived at Kirklington Road on the back of five straight wins which has seen them take top spot in the Football League Youth Alliance North West division.
John Dempster’s side last week put in an impressive display to beat in-form Bradford City, but couldn’t find a way past their confident opponents this time around despite their endeavours and slipped to their first loss in eight matches.
The Stags started the game quickly and almost took the lead in the third minute when a long range free-kick from Kieran Harrison out on the left flank dipped sharply and dropped just over the visitors’ crossbar.
Alistair Smith found a slight chink in the visitors’ armour and threaded a pass into the path of Tyler Blake, but Shrews’ ‘keeper Leon Reece moved quickly from his line to snuff out the danger.
Play switched quickly again and within moments Ethan Jones was bearing down on Sam Wilson, but he miscued his shot and presented the Stags’ stopper with an easy save.
Blake took possession of the ball in the visitors’ box and in spite of the very close attentions of his marker, slipped a sideways pass to Alistair Smith, whose first-time effort was palmed away by Reece at the expense of a corner.
With 17 minutes on the clock, the visitors took the lead. A long pass forward found Jones, who held up the ball and opted to plant it just inside the left-hand post as the Stags’ defence were caught in two minds by the cavalry who had turned up in support of their prolific striker.
The Shrews put Mansfield on the back foot for an uncomfortable few minutes and it became apparent that Jones wasn't content to settle for just a solitary goal.
However, the Stags absorbed a spell of pressure and upped the ante themselves as
Zayn Hakeem flicked the ball on to his strike partner, but Tyler Blake had the ball nicked off his boot as he took aim.
Alistair Smith was looking lively following his two goals last week and his ten-yard strike was blocked by the determined visitors’ defence. It fell invitingly for Teddy Bloor whose stinging attempt was tipped around the post by the impressive Reece.
Bloor then swung in the resulting corner which was only cleared as far as Charlie Shaw, but the opposition closed ranks again and charged down his shot on goal.
The Stags, looking to draw level before the break, forced two more corners in quick succession but when Bloor found Shaw once more, Reece was on hand again to pull off a great save.
In stoppage time, the Shrews countered down the right flank and a sweeping cross from Jordan Wilson was converted home past Sam Wilson from eight yards out by Jones, who bagged his second goal of the afternoon on the stroke of half-time to double his team’s advantage.
HT: Stags 0-2 Shrews
The home side mounted the first attack of the second period and Reece was forced into punching the ball away from Bloor’s corner as it swerved in the air and threatened to dip below his crossbar.
Alistair Smith shielded the loose ball and passed it sideways to Bloor who had advanced into the area, but Callum Roberts bravely threw himself in front of the full back's drive and the ball cannoned off his chest.
A long range pass from Callum Roberts picked out George Hughes whose first-time volley was saved by Wilson. In the next action, Shaw and Blake combined outside the visitors’ area and set up a chance for Alistair Smith, but he shot wide of the target.
Back came the Shropshire outfit through Tom King and he crossed to Jones who unselfishly played a sideways pass to John McAtee who blazed his shot past the right-hand post.
In search of a way back into the contest, Mansfield attacked down the left flank and Harrison's long throw into the mix was cleared for a corner. Bloor's set-piece was intercepted and Shrewsbury broke forward through their danger-man Jones yet again, but when Chris Gallagher teed him up for his hat-trick, the Shrews’ goalscorer squandered his chance.
Cain Smith was fouled 40 yards from goal, but when Louis Danquah nudged a short free-kick to the former, he launched a speculative long shot well over the bar.
With time running out, Tyler Blake was fighting for every ball down the right with Callum Roberts, as the two of them indulged in a personal duel, but Roberts' defensive colleagues covered him as Hakeem roamed dangerously in their midst.
Stags’ substitute Tom Marriott played a weighted pass into the path of Hakeem but with his marker closing in on him, the Mansfield striker had to rush his effort and skewed the ball wide.
From the goal-kick, the visitors charged forward and Sam Wilson was fortunate to see his point-blank stop from John McAtee rebound back into his arms off the upright.
Harrison swung the ball into the 18-yard-box and Cameron Healey climbed above everyone in the crowded goalmouth to nod the ball towards the goal, but Reece held onto it to cap a busy performance.
Cain Smith, Marriott and Hakeem passed their way past three challenges, but Shrewsbury shut them out again to consign Mansfield to an unfortunate defeat in Rainworth.
FT: Stags 0-2 Shrews
Dempster’s men are next in action away at Doncaster Rovers on Saturday 10 October (11am).
Saturday 3rd October 2015
Football League Youth Alliance Cup 2nd Round
Mansfield Town (0) 0
Shrewsbury Town (2) 2
Ethan Jones 17, 45+
Sam Wilson, Charlie Shaw (Surafel Behailu 81), Teddy Bloor, Drew Gibson, Kieran Harrison, Louis Danquah, Cain Smith, Cameron Healey, Tyler Blake, Alistair Smith (Tom Marriott 69), Zayn Hakeem
Unused subs: Luke Bacon, Henry Brittijn, Morgan Ratcliffe
Leon Reece, Ryan Sears, Callum Roberts, George Hughes, Joel Bonner, Chris Gallagher, Jack Butts, John McAtee (Charley Higgs 80), Jordan Wilson (Joel Carta 90+2), Ethan Jones (C), Tom King (Nathan Mills 86)
Unused subs: Josh Agbozo, Joe Kenton