Defender Ben Whelan scored his first competitive goal for Mansfield under-19s as he helped his side secure a 2-0 win in today’s Youth Alliance League encounter with Bradford City.
Stags’ substitute Oli Wilson made an immediate impact scoring just four minutes after he replaced attacker Ronnie Kokkinos in the forward line.
And Whelan added to the scoring five minutes later as he guided his powerful header past Bradford ‘keeper Tom Myles.
Two back-to-back wins and clean sheets in the league means that Sam Collins’ side go into Wednesday night’s FA Youth Cup tie at Crewe in good spirits.
In the 15th minute, Mansfield created a great opportunity from a free-kick as the ball was played short to Charlie Carter who fired across the area, requiring the slightest of touches from anyone inside the visitors’ box but nobody could make the crucial connection.
Just two minutes later, Stags’ striker McKeal Abdullah provided teammate Finn Flanagan with a brilliant chance but the midfielder fired over the bar from the edge of the area.
In form attacker Jakub Kruszynski went into the referee’s book on 38 minutes as he was shown a yellow card for an accumulation of fouls during the first-half.
The amber and blue were unable to break the deadlock in the opening 45 minutes despite having a number of opportunities.
The Bantams made three substitutions at the break as James Edgley, Harry Ibbitson and Freddy Jeffreys replaced Dylan Wilkinson, Nathan Tinsdale and Isaac Robinson, respectively.
The visitors had a brilliant opportunity to take the lead seven minutes into the second-half as the ball was crossed from the right-hand side to a Bradford attacker arrived in the centre of the box. But Ben Whelan was there to make a superb clearance, preventing an almost certain goal.
The Stags made their first two substitutions of the game in the 62nd minute. A straight swap at centre-back saw Cormac Maher come on for Cody Collins and striker Oli Wilson replace Ronnie Kokkinos in the front three.
Mansfield broke the deadlock in the 66th minute as midfielder Charlie Carter forced a save from Myles but he could only push it to the feet of Abdullah. His effort was also saved but Oli WIlson was there to make it third time lucky as he tapped the ball in to the back of the net from close range.
After conceding the first goal of the game, Mo Sedibeh replaced attacker Dylan Youmbi for the Bantams in their fourth substitution of the match.
The hosts made their third substitution of the game on 69 minutes as forward Louis Bonser replaced midfielder Bailey Hamilton.
Moments later, Mansfield extended their lead when Ben Whelan scored his first competitive goal for the Stags in the 70th minute. The defender showed outstanding strength and power to rise highest and guide his header from a free-kick into Myles’ net.
The amber and blue made their final change of the game in the 82nd minute as attacker Noah Aynsley-Johnson replaced Abdullah.
The young Stags managed the game well in the final moments which helped them secure all three points and they were also rewarded with another clean sheet following a strong defensive display.
Mansfield face Crewe in the first round of the FA Youth Cup on Wednesday night. They’ll go into that game in great form and with good spirits following today’s victory.
MANSFIELD TOWN: Turner, Anderson, Wauchope, Whelan, Collins (Maher 62), Carter, Flanagan, Hamilton (Bonser 69), Abdullah (Aynsley-Johnson 82), Kokkinos (Wilson 62), Kruszynski
UNUSED SUB: Leech
BRADFORD CITY: Myles, Wilkinson (Edgley 46), Dalghous, Tinsdale (Ibbitson 46), Wadsworth, Breaks, Robinson (Jeffreys 46), Paut, Jeffers, Youmbi (Sedibeh 66), Kamwa
UNUSED SUB: Hadi
REFEREE: Luke Burford