York, with just a solitary point from their opening four games, travelled to face John Dempster's unbeaten youth team at Kirklington Road with a gameplan that seemingly consisted of crowding out the middle of the park in an effort to keep the game tight.
Though the Stags usually come out of the blocks with a high tempo approach to the game, York restricted them to just two goalscoring opportunities in the opening ten minutes. The first saw versatile defender Teddy Bloor try his luck from long range and the second came when forward Tyler Blake's cross to his attacking partner Zayn Hakeem was only cleared as far as Cameron Healey, but he went for power rather than precision and planted the ball wide of the right hand upright.
It was Healey who had the next chance to break the deadlock, but Bloor's free kick sat up awkwardly in the goalmouth and the combative midfielder couldn't quite keep the ball down and saw it fly over the crossbar.
Defender Louis Danquah ventured forward and squared the ball to the onrushing Cain Smith but his shot was charged down by a cluster of York players.
The Minstermen were showed more resilience in the first 45 minutes than their league position would suggest whilst also testing the boundaries and parameters of the expression 'fair but firm' with a few full-bodied challenges in midfield.
Defender Kane Baldwin was the recipient of a strong challenge on the far touchline as Matt Salmon made his first appearance on the Kirklington Road turf on what proved to be a busy afternoon for the Stags’ physio.
Baldwin was forced off after the challenge and Surafel Behailu came on to take his place.
York began to show some attacking promise as Rob Cooney played the ball into the path of Sam Fielding, but City's number 8 rushed his effort and the ball went safely over Sam Wilson’s crossbar in the Stags’ goal.
Behailu was immediately into the action as he pressured Alex McMillan into conceding a corner.
York cleared the ball away from Bloor's corner but Tom Marriott launched it straight back into the mix where only a last ditch tackle, at the expense of a corner, prevented Hakeem from opening the scoring.
The prevention was only momentary as the Stags went ahead as the game headed for half-time. Bloor picked out Morgan Ratcliffe with the flag kick and despite the very close attention of three York players trying to hold him down, the Stags’ number 4 got his head to the ball and powered it into the top corner of the net.
Within a minute, Ratcliffe became the second Stags’ casualty of the afternoon and after receiving lengthy treatment on the pitch, he was taken to hospital to stitch an open wound.
Charlie Shaw replaced the Stags’ goalscorer as John Dempster was forced into his second change of the morning.
On the stroke of half time, York cleared the ball after a strong run from Blake but Marriott was on hand again to pick up the loose ball and he quickly passed it to Hakeem who turned and crashed his shot against the upright.
HT: Stags 1-0 York
The Stags started the second half on the front foot and Tyler Blake shrugged off the attentions of Kyle Trinder and shot across the face of the York goal, but Kieran Price got his body behind the ball to keep it out.
Cain Smith rode a challenge in midfield and drilled the ball forward into the path of Blake, who had time to steady himself before unleashing a shot that Price kept out once again.
Marriott slipped the ball through a gap in the York defence to Healey and York defender Tyler Walton flew into a tackle to clear the immediate danger, but the ball fell to Hakeem who blazed his shot wide of the post.
York realised that the game was in danger of slipping away from them and mounted a couple of attacks of their own. Sam Fielding and Cooney combined on the edge of the area but Kieran Harrison intercepted and cleared the danger.
Cooney and Cameron Wilson forced a corner as they countered and when Wilson picked out Walton, Stags’ ‘keeper Sam Wilson did well to collect the York defender’s goal-bound header out of the air.
Luke Bacon came on for the final 15 minutes in place of Marriott, who'd been influential in what had often been the battleground of midfield.
In the closing stages, Harrison launched a long pass into the path of Hakeem, who gambled on winning the race for the ball, shrugged off the attentions of two defenders and thumped his shot low and hard but saw it fly just inches wide of the upright.
With seconds remaining, Cain Smith skinned Walton out on the right flank but York ‘keeper Price reached his cross before Hakeem and the Stags had to settle for a 1-0 win which keeps their unbeaten start to the season intact.
FT: Stags 1-0 York City
The Stags' under 18 midweek team have a home game on Wednesday (23rd September) v Sutton Coldfield Town, kick off 2pm. The Saturday side face a trip to West Yorkshire next weekend, for a 12 noon kick off against Bradford City.
Saturday 19th September 2015
Football League Youth Alliance
Kirklington Road, Rainworth
Mansfield Town (1) 1
Morgan Ratcliffe 38
York City (0) 0
Sam Wilson, Teddy Bloor, Louis Danquah, Morgan Ratcliffe (Charlie Shaw 42), Kieran Harrison, Kane Baldwin (Surafel Behailu 28), Cain Smith, Cameron Healey, Tyler Blake (C), Tom Marriott (Luke Bacon 74), Zane Hakeem
Unused subs - Alistair Smith, Henry Brittijn
York City lineup:
Kieran Price, Alex McMillan, Kyle Trinder (Matty Parker 62), Alex Ashman, Josh Dobie, Tyler Walton, Cameron Wilson, Sam Fielding (Reece Breslin 79), Nick Kennedy (Alex Brutton 79), Dec Leen, Rob Cooney
Unused subs - Chris Salmon, Sam Jefferson