Mansfield Town’s under 21s put in an outstanding display to record their second consecutive victory of 2017 with a 4-2 triumph over York City this afternoon.
Mike Whitlow’s side continue to remain unbeaten in the New Year across all competitions, as a Tyler Blake hat-trick and defender Kieran Harrison’s strike earned them a comprehensive victory over the Minstermen.
The visitors pulled two late goals back through substitute Aaron Haswell and striker Ryan Edmondson.
The game was off to a scrappy start at Kirklington Road, as neither side managed to impose a firm grasp over the early proceedings.
But it was the Stags who fancied their first chance from 22-yards, as frontman Blake did well to toe a pass for midfielder Lewis Collins, who dragged his low left-footed shot wide of the mark.
At the other end, York created their maiden chance with Sam Fielding’s free-kick from near the half-way line on four minutes. But his delivery was steered beyond the byline for a goal-kick.
As the clock ran past the 10-minute mark, the Stags fashioned two efforts in close succession, with midfielder Harrison Biggins first rattling the crossbar, while Blake found his header from close range tipped over the post by York’s custodian Ryan Whitley.
The visitors were not disheartened and forced a save from Stags’ ‘keeper Xavier Sundby via frontman Edmondson.
However, as Mike Whitlow’s men launched a counter at the end of the first quarter, attacking midfielder Adriel George earned his side a corner, which led to the Stags’ first goal. A deep delivery saw centre-back Harrison meet it with a looping header, which went over Whitley’s outstretched arm and landed into the net.
The home side continued to boss proceedings, with midfield creator Collins pulling the strings admirably. On 24 minutes, he floated a perfectly-weighed pass for George, who rushed in and blasted his effort from the edge of the 18-yard box.
On 26 minutes though, the Stags carved out another fruitful venture, with Blake doubling the lead after a free-kick from midfield had created flutter inside the box. George floated the ball into the box and Cameron Healey hammered a header against the crossbar and Blake was on hand to volley the rebound into the bottom corner from 10 yards out.
The Stags built on their attacking fluidity, and five minutes later, it was 3-0 thanks to Blake’s second goal of the afternoon. George had called Whitley into an action with a low save but the ball snuck past him, with Blake on hand to tuck it home, despite the attempted diving block by left-back Zak Lawrence.
Continuing one of the finest displays of the season so far, the hosts went ahead by four goals on 38 minutes, as Blake completed his treble with a composed finish on the back of an outstanding feed from strike partner Zayn Hakeem.
Hakeem fed the ball through the defence for Blake, who took the ball on with the outside of his right foot before dispatching the ball beyond Whitley.
The young Stags continued to fight the contest keenly as ever after the change of ends, even though they enjoyed a healthy 4-0 lead.
However, Steve Torpey’s York took charge of the situation momentarily, with Fielding looking to find a way past the Mansfield backline. First, his flag-kick on 50 minutes was dealt with well, while the same player tried his luck from outside the box moments later, only to be repelled by some stout Stags’ defending.
Mansfield’s young guns replied with skipper Blake at the thick of things once again, when his cut-back from the right of the area was poked away for a corner by a City defender. Antigua and Barbuda international George crossed from the corner arc, but the visitors cleared their lines successfully.
Just past the hour-mark, the Minstermen had a free-kick near the far touchline, which right full-back Fielding swung in. But consecutive headers from two York forward players sent the ball out for a goal-kick.
On 64 minutes, City were at it with a counter-attack down the left, when striker Edmondson sent a grounded cross across the face of the goal, which Stags’ left-back Louis Danquah hacked clear off the line.
The game continued to swing back and forth, but the scoreline remained unchanged.
With 20 minutes remaining, Sundby rose to the occasion between the Mansfield sticks with a fine double save, keeping Fielding and Edmondson at bay within a matter of seconds.
As the clock ticked down, York remained intent in their approach to harass the hosts, and substitute striker Haswell pulled a goal back on 86 minutes, when he collected a long ground pass from Fielding and slotted it past Sundby.
Fielding was the creative mastermind again with a minute left on the clock, as his free-kick was headed home by Edmondson from inside the six-yard area to halve the deficit.
The two late goals from the Minstermen made for an edge-of-the-seat final few moments, but the Stags hung on to their two-goal cushion to see out another fine victory.
Stags’ XI: Sundby, Slone, Danquah, Healey, K.Harrison, Brewitt, Collins, Biggins, T.Blake (Johal, 80’), Hakeem (Law, 68’), George
Subs not used: Wilson, Browne, Bilson
York City XI: Whitley, Kemp, Lawrence (Thompson, HT), Dixon, Brettel, Rogerson, Freer (Haswell, 77’), Walton, Edmondson, Fielding, Jackson
Subs not used: Wilton, Berry, McNaughton