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Youth report: Stags 5-2 Shrewsbury Town

9 October 2017

Mansfield Town's under 18s maintained their impressive unbeaten run with a 5-2 EFL Youth Alliance Cup win against Shrewsbury Town at The Worksop Van Hire Stadium on Saturday.

The Stags were looking to take control of Northern Group 5 with the winners of each group progressing to the last eight, along with the two best runners-up.

After an early Shrewsbury goal, the Stags composed themselves and put on a ruthless display, with a brace from midfielder Keaton Ward on 30 and 84 minutes and a quick-fire double from winger Nyle Blake on 55 minutes and again thirty seconds later. Centre back Aiden Walker also helped himself to a goal, heading home after 66 minutes from a Ward corner.

The home team started the better with striker Riley O'Sullivan's attempt blocked inside the area and Blake's follow-up lofted cross tipped behind by Shrewsbury 'keeper Jack Atkinson after 12 minutes.

The resulting corner saw the ball fall to midfielder Harry Bircumshaw who went down in the area, despite calls for a penalty referee Lauren Holt waved away the appeals.

The first genuine attempt on target came courtesy of O'Sullivan, whose close-range turn and shot on 17 minutes went straight at Atkinson.

Despite the early pressure, the visitors settled into the game and the first sign of danger came from pacey wide man Lifumpa Mwandwe. His run and shot sailed wide of Stags' 'keeper Xavier Sundby's right-hand post on the 20 minute mark.

Just two minutes later came the breakthrough. Some great work by Shrewsbury number nine Tyrone Ofori saw the frontman cross for an unmarked Ryan Barnett, whose volleyed attempt from six yards bounced over Sundby, who stood no chance.

Shrewsbury's opener gave them confidence and as Ofori ran in behind, he shot low towards the corner, only for Sundby to spread himself and deflect the ball wide and out of play.

The visitors had found their feet but the Stags stood firm and a marauding run by captain Henri Wilder led to some nice link-up play with O'Sullivan. The left-back received the ball back from O'Sullivan and his cross was cushioned into the top right corner by an accurate Ward header on the half hour mark to draw Stags level.

The game, while competitive, had been played in good spirits but Wilder's crunching tackle on Mwandwe in the 37th minute left the Shrewsbury player needing treatment and the Stags' captain was lucky to escape with just a yellow card.

Three minutes later came another flash-point for referee Holt to deal with, when Ward and Kian Taylor butted heads after an innocuous challenge by the Stags' number ten but both players escaped with a warning.

The leniency from the ref turned out to be a blessing for Ward as he was booked for a blatant charge on Mwandwe just minutes later.

After a first half which threatened to boil over, the Stags were on fire in the second, taking the game to the visitors and dismantling them at will.

Five minutes after the restart Wilder's cleanly hit volley was cleared off the line by a backtracking Jack Leask.

On 50 minutes, busy midfielder Harry Bircumshaw broke down the right and when his cross was cleared, it fell to Blake who clinically dispatched his left-footed drive to the right of a sprawling Atkinson.

Less than a minute later Blake was at it again, the confident forward's mazy run took him into the penalty area and he drilled a right-footed shot into the left corner to put the Stags 3-1 up and in control.

He could have had a two-minute hat-trick when his left-footed, top corner bound attempt was smartly pushed over by an increasingly overworked Atkinson.

On 65 minutes, the ever-dangerous O'Sullivan raced away down the left wing and into the box and his effort was well-saved by Atkinson, parrying the sweetly hit strike around the post.

The resulting corner, however, saw the Stags pull further ahead with a towering far post header by Aiden Walker on 66 minutes. Any hope Shrewsbury had of getting back into the game was put to bed by the fourth goal.

Harri Lovett's dipping volley on 77 minutes was the first time Sundby was called into action in the second half, with the Stags' 'keeper catching comfortably.

The second half blitz was complete when Ward ran clean through and lobbed the bouncing ball over a stranded Atkinson, who got a good hand to it but was unable to keep it out.

There was also time for Atkinson to pull off another save in injury time after some clever footwork from Ward saw him play in substitute Iyrwah Gooden, who attempted to curl his shot into the top right corner only for Atkinson to parry over left-handed.

Academy manager John Dempster gave sub 'keeper Keaton Mars a run-out and Sundby's watching brief would continue from the bench.

Unfortunately for Mars, the last serious attack of the game ended with Mwandwe collecting the ball in the area and rounding the substitute 'keeper and his deflected shot just about rolled over the line, despite the best efforts of Walker to clear.

The full-time whistle blew with the Stags running out comprehensive 5-2 winners, which sees them take control of EFL Youth Alliance Cup Northern Group 5 on nine points from three games, and with a healthy goal difference.

STAGS' XI: Sundby (83 Mars), Weston, Wilder (c), Cornell, Gibbens (Johnson 80), Walker, Blake (77 Gooden), Bircumshaw, Sarson, Ward, O'Sullivan (Tague 69)

SUBS NOT USED: Darby

SHREWSBURY XI: Atkinson, Agbozo, Davies, Kian Taylor, Hunterbach, Brett Taylor, Corfield, Leask (Lovett 65), Ofori (Whalley 88), Barnett (c), Mwandwe

SUBS NOT USED: Bevan, Redding, Bell


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