Notts County Youth draw with local rivals Mansfield in entertaining game
Saturday 2nd April 2016
Football League Youth Alliance at Kirklington Road, Rainworth MWFC.
Mansfield Town (1) 1
Zayn Hakeem 23
Notts County (0) 1
Sam Osborne 82
Notts County Lineup:
Joe Searson-Smithard, Jordon Richards, Remaye Campbell 42), Kenan Leyton, Dominic Brownhill, Jordan Aghatise, Harry Bugg (George McCartney 73), Alex Howes, Luther Wildin (C), Montel Gibson, Jack McMillan (Nathan Cobain 78), Sam Osborne
Only three points now separate the teams in 3rd and 9th place in the table after this draw, in what has been a very competitive season in the North East division of the Football League Youth Alliance.
County had beaten local rivals Mansfield 4-0 the last time the two sides met, on a very wet and windy day in November at Arnold.
However it was Mansfield who made the early running, as Zayn Hakeem powered his way into the Magpies area, but Joe Searson-Smithard was quickly off his line to cut out the danger.
Hakeem's running created another opening moments later, when he advanced down the left flank and delivered the ball to Tyler Blake who flicked it into the path of Jason Law, but his shot was deflected behind for a corner, from which Jordan Aghatise tidied things up for Notts and cleared the ball away from danger.
Harry Bugg, Aghatise' central defensive partner, headed away a cross from Law, as the Stags continued to knock on County's door but our defence held firm.
But on 23 minutes minutes Louis Danquah showed some good touches out on the left wing and found Cain Smith with his cross which was initially charged down by Bugg. However, Tyler Blake pounced, winning the ball before slipping a short pass to Hakeem who opened the scoring from eight yards out, with a shot that gave Searson-Smithard no chance of pulling off a close range save.
County were almost on level terms immediately, pushing forward from the restart with a quick passing move, that finished with Montel Gibson hitting the crossbar with a fiercely struck effort. It was a great effort and so unlucky for Gibson.
County continued to attack with relative frequency, but against the run of play Mansfield's Hakeem attacked the County defence and Bugg clipped the Stags dangerman with a slightly mistimed tackle as he homed in on goal. The referee blew and pointed to the penalty spot much to the protest of the Notts players, but less than five minutes after he'd found the net, Hakeem drilled the ball wide of the right hand upright from the spot.
This close scare breathed fresh life into County again who now forged ahead and went on the offensive.
Alex Howes run through the left channel was blocked by Morgan Ratcliffe's challenge, but Howes scurried after the loose ball, regained possession and shot narrowly wide of the left hand upright.
Aghatise cleared Hakeem’s cross behind at the expense of a corner, but Searson-Smithard held onto Teddy Bloor's corner kick and the Magpies pushed forward once again. Having cleared the danger at one end, Aghatise motored forward to get on the end of Howes' cross, but Adam Bishop in the Stags goal plucked the ball off the powerful defender’s head.
Tyler Johal and Jordon Richards both went for the ball as it dropped towards them and met each other head on, literally, and there was a lengthy stoppage as both players received treatment for nasty head injuries and were subsequently replaced from the subs bench.
When play resumed, County forced a corner kick out on the left flank. Bishop dealt with the in-swinging cross and the ball was cleared, but only as far as Jack McMillan who struck a first time shot that was goalbound had it not hit Cameron Healey full on in his face.
The Stags physio was having a very busy first half and once the referee had added time on for stoppages, half time finally arrived almost sixty minutes after the game had kicked off.
As play recommenced in the second half, Mansfield won a corner from their first forward move and County could maybe count themselves lucky that Kieran Harrison's header from Danquah's corner kick went a few inches wide of the post, though the keeper looked to have it covered.
Cain Smith linked up with Harrison and fed the ball to Hakeem on the edge of the area, but he was met by a crowd of striped shirts as Notts defended resolutely again, and the move was snuffed out. Notts were now on the ascendancy, soaking up any Mansfield pressure and looking more threatening going forward.
Law put a good cross in to Healey who laid the ball back to Shaw whose first time shot was held by Searson-Smithard who was having a great game. Directly from this, Notts launched the ball up the field to Montel Gibson, who surged past the Stags defence with a great burst of pace, but with Bishop advancing from his line to meet the County attacker, Gibson tried to curl the ball round him, but his effort went just wide. A massive let off for the Stags.
Gibson then drilled a low cross into the Stags six-yard box that Bishop did well to claim, amid the scrum of approaching players.
McMillan delivered a free kick into the Stags area, that was half cleared as far as Brownhill out on the right, who chipped a cross in towards Gibson, but Bishop came to the rescue again.
The game had become a real end-to-end affair, with both teams going for goal. It was a highly enjoyable spectacle for the crowd, but agony for the managers and coaches as shots rained in on the goals at either end.
The goal for Notts was coming and on 82 minutes, County deservedly pulled level when Sam Osborne hit a close range shot straight at Bishop before managing to bundle the ball in on the rebound. It was a brilliant knock-down from Montel Gibson from Remaye Campbell's cross.
Neither side wanted to settle for a draw and Bloor attacked Notts down the right flank, but Kenan Layton and Aghatise were on hand to clear two telling crosses away.
County had another chance when Brownhill popped up on the edge of the Stags box and forced another save out of Bishop, who'd done well to thwart County’s attacking threat throughout.
Neither side could find the breakthrough and an entertaining game ended 1-1.
REPORT BY ROB WAITE