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Youth report: Stags 1-0 Bradford City

20 November 2017

Mansfield Town's under 18s continued their excellent run of form by beating Bradford City 1-0 in an entertaining EFL Youth Alliance encounter at Rainworth Miners Welfare on Saturday.

Striker Riley O'Sullivan converted a 75th minute penalty after referee James Watkins penalised Bradford's Oliver Kirkpatrick for pushing Stags' centre-back Aiden Walker in the box.

The victory saw the Stags' notch up a fourth successive win without conceding and rounded off an impressive week which also saw them progress to the third round of the FA Youth Cup.

Mansfield started the game on the front foot and a long ball after 60 seconds saw visiting 'keeper George Sykes-Kenworthy rush off his line only to head the ball up rather than away.

Onrushing Stags' winger Iyrwah Gooden couldn't capitalise as he failed to connect with the loose ball which was hacked away by the Bradford defence.

After eight minutes, winger Nyle Blake's long throw-in was flicked on at the near post by right wing-back Cam Weston. It ran across the face of goal and out of play when the slightest touch would have taken it over the line.

Ten minutes later, midfielder Keaton Ward's low, whipped free-kick evaded everyone. Gooden was the closest to getting a meaningful touch with his head, but again he misjudged the flight of the ball as it bounced out for a goal kick.

The Stags were on top in the opening 20 minutes but hadn't carved out any real chances, but it seemed like a matter of time before they would.

On 21 minutes, a low cross from left-back Henri Wilder fell to Blake who couldn't get the ball out from under his feet as he attempted to stab it goalwards from six yards, but it was cleared from inside the six-yard box by Kirkpatrick.

Another strong run by Wilder on 25 minutes saw a carbon copy of the earlier chance for Blake, this time it was striker Jake Dumbleton who got the ball stuck under his feet and the Bradford defence again blocked then cleared the ball.

The visitors hadn't offered a great deal going forward but on 36 minutes, they created their first chance of the game.

Centre forward Albert Ibrahimi collected the ball half-way in inside the Stags' half and played a dangerous through ball for left winger Reece Powell to race on to.

The quick wide man was ready to shoot, but a lunging slide tackle from Weston prevented what would have been a great goalscoring opportunity for the visitors. It was the only occasion the Stags' defence looked troubled in the first half.

Stags' captain Wilder was proving to be the home team's most likely source for a goal, his two crosses in the first half caused mayhem in the visitor's penalty area, and he continued in the same vein on 50 minutes.

His cross was met by an on-rushing Nyle Blake from around three yards out, the forward volleyed over but the firmly struck, waist high ball meant it was a difficult finish to execute.
Bradford's best attempt of the second half was a free-kick floated over the wall by Matthew Birchall, but it wouldn't come down in time and went just over the crossbar.

On 71 minutes, two substitutes combined for the Stags to create a good chance for the ever dangerous Wilder.

Midfielder Harry Bircumshaw's scooped pass was flicked on by striker Rhys Sarson into the path of Wilder but his tame volley was hit straight at Sykes-Kenworthy.

The game was drifting towards a 0-0 draw but then, the moment arrived that changed the whole complexion of the match.

A throw by Wilder was aimed towards centre-back Aiden Walker, who had stayed up from a corner, and as Kirkpatrick climbed over him to head the ball away, the referee pointed to the spot to give Stags a match-winning opportunity.

The Bradford players were incensed but O'Sullivan kept his concentration during the heated aftermath and coolly slotted his penalty to the left of a sprawling Sykes-Kenworthy to put the Stags 1-0 up.

O'Sullivan was confident, and it was showing. His positive runs with the ball drew a booking for Bradford centre-back Josef Hefele and he then ran clean through on goal on 83 minutes.

He was in the area, on his favoured left foot, when Sykes-Kenworthy rushed off his line and O'Sullivan slotted the ball underneath the 'keeper only for tenacious right-back Jeremie Milambo to slide and clear off the line.

The resulting corner sailed over everyone, including Wilder running in at the far post who seemed determined to get his name on the score sheet.

There was just enough time left for Bradford to have an attempt on goal. Ibrahimi's sweetly struck strike on 90 minutes flew wide of Davidson's left-hand post and that proved to be the last action of the game as the Stags held on to win.

The victory was the Stags' third 1-0 win in a row and their fourth win in as many games. Their next match is away against Burton Albion at the Welbeck Defence Sixth Form College in the EFL Youth Alliance.

STAGS' XI: Davison, Weston, Wilder (c), Cornell (Morgan 82), Johnson, Walker, Blake, Dumbleton (Sarson 67), Gooden (Jackson 80), Ward (Bircumshaw 62), O'Sullivan


BRADFORD XI: Sykes-Kenworthy, Milambo, Staunton, Wright, Hefele, Kirkpatrick, Ellington, Maltby, Ibrahimi, Birchall (Pandor 68), Powell (Drovi, 77)

SUBS NOT USED: Darke, Patience, Adams

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