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Match Reports

Under 21s report: Grimsby Town 2-1 Stags

21 February 2017

Mansfield Town's under 21s slipped to their second consecutive 2-1 defeat against Grimsby Town this afternoon.

All three goals were scored in the first half as Grimsby raced into a 2-0 lead thanks to goals from midfielder Sean McAllister and striker Scott Vernon. 

With the Mariners well on top, Stags clinched a lifeline with 13 first half minutes remaining when midfielder Lewis Collins curled home an excellent free-kick. 

Despite a competitive second period, neither side could add to their respective goal tally as Stags ultimately fell short of getting anything for their efforts at Blundell Park.

Under 21s head coach Mike Whitlow made five changes to the side who were defeated by Hartlepool United last time out. Goalkeeper Xavier Sundby made way for Sam Wilson, while Teddy Bloor, debutant Bradley Peace-McDonald and Henri Wilder slotted in to the back four in place of Tom Slone, Mohammed Kamara and Charlie Shaw. Up front, Tyler Blake came into the side as captain in place of brother Nyle, who dropped to the bench. 

The game started at a lightening quick speed as both sides tussled for possession in the early stages. 

The hosts created the first opportunity within the opening five minutes when Jason Law brought down Brandon Comley 35 yards from goal. The free-kick was played short to Davies in the box, but winger Louis Danquah was on hand to clear the danger. 

Stags then launched an attack as winger AJ George was given the ball down the right and he did excellently to take on Maxwell and get a cross into the box, but midfielder Sean McAllister thumped away the danger. 

Mike Whitlow's side then created the first real chance of the game. Striker Blake was alert to a loose pass by Luke Maxwell and he carried the ball towards the edge of the box but was dispossessed as it bobbled off the uneven surface and Grimsby were able to clear. 

However, two minutes later Grimsby took the lead through Sean McAllister. Two former Stags combined as Craig Disley rolled the ball into the feet of Adi Yussuf and although his initial shot was saved by 'keeper Sam Wilson, McAllister reacted quickest to stroke the ball home on the rebound. 

Grimsby then smelt blood and they put the Stags under some real pressure for the minutes that followed. Right-back Ben Davies was enjoying some particular success down the right-hand side, but his deliveries were dealt with well by the Stags' defence. 

Stags survived a real scare on 23 minutes when Davies found his target in the shape of striker Scott Vernon. The big frontman crashed a header against the crossbar and Akwasi Asante looked to have the goal at his mercy from the rebound but Bloor got his thigh to it on the line and Wilson managed to claw it away. 

Davies was again in the thick of the action a few minutes later when his cross towards the penalty spot was glanced just wide by Adi Yussuf. 

However, the Mariners doubled their lead via play from the left-hand side of the pitch. 

Midfielder Brandon Comley carried the ball in to the left-side of the box and squeezed in a low cross to the front post where Vernon prodded the ball beyond Sam Wilson, who was off-balance as he tried to keep it out. 

Stags steadied the ship somewhat in the minutes that followed and got the reward that their determination deserved. 

AJ George, who was impressing down the Stags' right, picked the ball up in the centre-circle and drove towards the box before being brought down by Sean McAllister 25 yards from goal. 

Midfielder Lewis Collins, who scored a stunning free-kick against Hartlepool in the Stags' last match, stepped up and whipped a great free-kick under the dive of Andy Warrington and in to the bottom corner to halve the deficit. 

After Collins' goal got them back in the game, Stags had the wind in their sails and could've been level on 38 minutes. 

George and Collins again linked up as the former backheeled the ball to him 20 yards out and the former Reading man curled a wonderful effort which fell inches wide of the post. 

Grimsby began to realise that the young Stags' side would be no pushovers and they attempted to reinstate their two-goal cushion, but as Davies looked to lift the ball on to the head of Vernon, centre-half Kieran Harrison rose well to head away. 

Jason Law created the final opportunity of the first period right on the stroke of half-time when he weaved his way into the box before an excellent challenge from centre-half Josh Gowling saw the ball go out for a corner. 

Midfielder Craig Disley was replaced by James Berret at the break for the Mariners. 

Grimsby manager Marcus Bignot joined former Stags' first team coach Micky Moore on the touchline for the second half and the hosts subsequently began the period with increased vigour. 

Balls into the box were dealt with fairly comfortably by the Stags as left-back Henri Wilder did particularly well to head away from Scott Vernon on more than one occasion. 

The Mariners' first sight at goal in the second half came when Davies, who had just taken a poor free-kick in the corner, got another opportunity and floated the ball on to the head of Adi Yussuf, but he could only head over from six yards out. 

Mike Whitlow's side then had Sam Wilson to thank for keeping them in the game when he pulled off an excellent stop to deny Akwasi Asante. 

The striker played a one-two with Yussuf on the edge of the box before firing a left-footed effort towards the bottom corner, which Wilson did well to turn behind for a corner. 

Despite most of the good play from Grimsby coming down the right, they created an opening from the left-hand side on the hour mark. 

Ben Davies, playing left-back in the second half, fizzed the ball into the feet of Vernon in the box who in turn flicked it intelligently back to him, but Wilson came out to smother the ball. 

Stags then made their first change on 66 minutes when Nyle Blake came on in place of AJ George. 

Three minutes later, a golden opportunity fell to Adi Yussuf in the box. Davies got down the left-hand side and clipped a good cross into the box. Kieran Harrison leapt well to head it away from Vernon but as it fell to Yussuf on the penalty spot, he sliced a half-volley high and wide. 

With 71 minutes on the clock, Yussuf produced a lung-busting down the right and Harrison opted to attempt to tackle him and keep hold of the ball rather than playing it out for a throw, which allowed the former Stags' man to drive past him and get a low cross into the box. Peace-McDonald got their first but his clearance hit the legs of Vernon and deflected safely into the arms of Wilson. 

Midfielder Cain Smith replaced Louis Danquah with 16 minutes remaining. 

Stags' hearts were in their mouths on 77 minutes when Scott Vernon's looping header found the back of the net, but the assistant referee had his flag up. 

The hosts then made a quadruple substitution as Gowling, McAllister, Yussuf and goalkeeper Warrington were replaced by Hough, Sawyer, Rose and Heath-Drury. 

Stags introduced Luke Morgan in place of Cameron Healey two minutes later. 

The substitutions seemed to disrupt the play of Grimsby and there is no doubt in saying that Stags finished the game as the stronger of the two sides. 

Nyle Blake was tripped on the right-edge of the box and Collins floated in a good delivery, but Harrison couldn't connect with a volley at the back post. 

Keeping up the pressure, Tyler Blake collected a good pass on the edge of the box and hit a stinging shot goalwards, which forced Heath-Drury into making an excellent save to turn the ball behind for a corner. 

Although the Stags ultimately fell short at Blundell Park, they gave a good account of themselves against a strong and experienced Grimsby Town side.     

STAGS: Wilson, Bloor, Wilder, Healey (Morgan 83), Peace-McDonald, Harrison, Danquah (C.Smith 74), Lewis Collins, T.Blake (C), Law, George (N.Blake 66)

UNUSED SUBS: Sundby, Ratcliffe

GRIMSBY: Warrington (Heath-Drury), Davies, Gowling (Rose), Boyce, Maxwell, Comley, Disley (C) (Berrett 46), McAllister (Hough), Yussuf (Sawyer), Vernon, Asante






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