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Youth report: Stags 1-1 Chesterfield

8 August 2017

Mansfield Town's under 18s began their EFL Youth Alliance title defence with a 1-1 draw against local rivals Chesterfield on Tuesday.

It was a game of two penalties – one in each half – as both sides had to settle for a share of the spoils on a wet afternoon at Rainworth Miners Welfare.

Midfielder Keaton Ward opened the scoring from 12 yards after 28 minutes following Connor Fowler's hand ball in the area. The Chesterfield left-back was able to make amends midway through the second half as he bagged the equaliser from the spot after half-time substitute Joel Phillips had been brought down by defender Aiden Walker.

It took nine minutes for the Stags to register the first attempt on target as Nyle Blake raced onto Harry Bircumshaw's through ball. The young striker lashed his shot towards the bottom corner, but Chesterfield goalkeeper Brad Jones got down low to palm the ball to safety.

The visitors looked to make their superior height advantage count from set pieces and almost opened the scoring when Jamie Charman met Marc McKenna's corner, but the centre back saw his header sail over the bar.

Levi Amanchi burst clear of the Mansfield backline midway through the first half, but Josh Tipping was unable to make a connection with his drilled cross as both sides found it difficult to create clear cut openings.

Stags' right-back Cameron Weston then almost netted a stunning opener when his ferocious half-volley from 35-yards whistled narrowly over the bar.

It was Mansfield who eventually made the breakthrough when Fowler handled Ward's free-kick inside the area. The Stags' midfielder duly stepped up to slot home the resulting spot-kick as he sent Jones the wrong way, firing into the bottom left corner.

Chesterfield were mainly restricted to long shots by a resolute Stags' backline as they pushed forward for an equaliser, with Brandon Howard taking aim from range but not troubling goalkeeper Xavier Sundby.

Striker Rhys Sarson came close to doubling Mansfield's lead ten minutes before the interval as he latched onto Ward's clever, driven free-kick, but Jones came out well at the feet of the striker to smother the ball.

That would prove to be the last major chance of the first half as the Stags went in at the break 1-0 ahead.

Spireites' captain Dylan Hand bent a thunderous free-kick wide of the post six minutes into the second half as the visitors searched for a leveller. The centre-back then fired well wide with a speculative 40-yard attempt.

Brave defending from Aiden Walker and Stags' skipper Henri Wilder preserved the hosts' slender advantage as they threw themselves in front of shots from Jack Holmes and Amanchi.

But the visitors were awarded a penalty midway through the second half when Walker brought down substitute Phillips in the area. Fowler was on hand to atone for his earlier error as he casually dispatched the spot-kick to draw Chesterfield level on 67 minutes.

The Spireites were in the ascendency and came close to taking the lead when Holmes powered a header inches wide from a McKenna corner.

Substitute Jake Dumbleton then missed a glorious opportunity to claim all three points for Mansfield when he raced clear with 11 minutes to go, but the forward shot straight at the onrushing Jones.

Academy manager John Dempster's side continued to push for an elusive winner, but were unable to make a breakthrough despite the best attempts of Ward, who saw his late drive blocked by Hand.

STAGS' XI: Sundby, Weston, Wilder, Bircumshaw, Gibbens, Walker, Gooden (Morgan, 66), Ward, Blake, Sarson (Dumbleton, 59), O'Sullivan (Tague, 89)

SUBS NOT USED: Mars, Johnson

CHESTERFIELD XI: Jones, Ofegubu, Fowler, McKenna, Charman, Hand, Howard (Render, 82), Holmes, Tipping (Phillips, 46), Amanchi, Foster (Sennett, 59)

SUBS NOT USED: Marris, Walker

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