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Match Reports

Youth report: Stags 2-1 Harrogate

11 September 2023

First-half goals from Ronnie Kokkinos and Alfie King helped Stags’ under-18s to an impressive win as they beat Harrogate Town 2-1 at RH Academy on Saturday.

Steve Chettle’s youngsters emerged victorious against Notts County in the Youth Alliance League a fortnight ago and followed it up with an equally notable performance and result at the weekend.

Kokkinos’s deflected effort from 18 yards set the tone for the home side in the first-half while Alfie King doubled Mansfield’s lead with a composed finish in injury time.

Lewis Smalley managed to reduce the deficit for the visitors in the dying embers of the match, but by then the outcome was beyond doubt.

The home side dominated possession in the opening ten minutes of the game and earned three corners as well as creating a host of good chances.

Kokkinos then broke the deadlock in the 28th minute.

Skipper Louis Bonser helped expose Harrogate on the right flank before finding Kokkinos, whose shot from 18 yards - with the aid of a deflection from a defender – sailed into the net.

Harrogate goalkeeper Frankie Shepherd came to the rescue when he kept out Alfie King’s rasping drive before the visitors’ defence cleared.

But King made no mistake in first-half stoppage time.

Elliot Hartmann surged onto the right wing to tee-up an unmarked King inside the box.

And the attacking midfielder did the rest with an accomplished finish inside the left post.

Stags continued to threaten after the break and on 66 minutes, Tyler Whyle went close with a deflected effort.

Steve Chettle made a double substitution, introducing Che Whitman-Brown and Noah Aynsley-Johnson for Callum Johnson and Dan Organ, respectively.

Harrogate gave themselves a lifeline in stoppage time with a late goal as Lewis Smalley pounced a loose ball to tap home from close range.

Following the match, Steve Chettle was pleased with the win and the team's second-half display but disappointed by the late concession and said: “Our general play in the first-half was really good.

“The heat was the major factor today. It was ridiculously hot.

“We are really pleased, we said during this week and this morning that we are looking at how far we have come within a month. We played Harrogate at home a month ago and lost 2-0.

“Even in the second-half, we played really well and could have had another opportunity for a couple of set plays but we were disappointed to concede right in the end.

“I have just spoken to the boys and said we are not looking for perfection, but progression, and we have got that in the space of a month.”

STAGS: Harrison Leech, Elliot Hartmann, Ollie Taylor, Lewis Warnaby, Cormac Maher, Callum Johnson (Che Whitman-Brown 67), Tyler Whyle, Dan Organ (Noah Aynsley-Johnson 67) Ronnie Kokkinos, Alfie King

UNUSED SUBS: Harvey Scott, Lucas Ellis, Mace Oldershaw

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