Tuesday, 28 November 2017

Clipstone (0) A v Mansfield Town (7) A - Fundraising Friendly - Abandoned after 45 minutes - Power Failure

Tuesday 28th November 2017
Fundraising Friendly Match
at the Worksop Van Hire Stadium/Lido Ground
Clipstone FC (0) A
Mansfield Town (7) A
Krystian Pearce 12
Calum Butcher 14, 24, 45
Paul Anderson 24 pen, 28
Alfie Potter 40
Admission £5. Programme £1.50
Attendance 451
Abandoned at half time - power failure
Clipstone:
Doncaster, Thomas, Radford, Taylor, Millns, Webster, Curtis, Homer, Hawley, Curzon, Gregory
Unused subs - Burbanks, Hubbard, Vickers, Limb, Morgan, Bullock, Stephenson
Mansfield Town:
Olejnik, Benning, Pearce, Digby, Mirfin, Atkinson, Potter, Anderson, Spencer, Butcher, Thomas
Unused subs - Wilson, Angol, Sterling-James, Hamilton, Healey, Wilder
Match officials:
David Coote, David Plowright, Steve Meredith
Clipstone FC's premises suffered from vandalism damage, during a recent break in at their Lido Ground. As a consequence, the local non league fraternity have gathered around to help out their fellow NCEL club in their hour of need... and upon hearing the Cobras bad news, the Stags first team manager, Steve Evans, rang them up and offered to send a team across to play in fundraising friendly match.
And true to his word, it was a strong side that started tonight's game.
Evans' assistant Paul Raynor oversaw proceedings from the bench, as Mansfield''s players, spurred on by the knowledge that places were up for grabs in this coming weekend's FA Cup first round game against Guiseley AFC, set about putting on an entertaining and attacking displaying.
Lee Angol was scheduled to play forty five minutes after half time, but sadly for the host club (and Angol), during the interval there was a problem with the electricity supply to the ground, which cast everybody in attendance into darkness... and with no guarantee when 'Western Power' could actually get their on call men on site to rectify the situation, there was no option but to abandon the game.
Hopefully Clipstone FC will be entitled to some sort of recompense from the power company for the loss of earnings through the warm food and drinks they were selling, which were proving to be extremely popular among the crowd of 451 who had turned out to support this game on a bitterly cold November night. There'a definitely a sprinkling snow on it's way imminently... prepare thyself for a whole load of fixtures upheaval any time soon.
As well as the first team players on the bench, there was also likely to be an opportunity for two of the Stags successful Under 18 team players who have moved up through the club's ranks: Cameron Healey and Sam Wilson (who are both currently on loan at Corby town) to get a run out, along with the Under 18's current captain Henri Wilder, who is in his second year with the academy side and earning rave reviews this season with some powerhouse performances. Luke Morgan, another of the current crop of Stags youngsters, was on the bench for Clipstone, where he is getting some work experience, to supplement his time at Brooksby College, the home of the Mansfield Town development teams.
Although the result itself was of no consequence in the grand scheme of things, and in reality it merely demonstrated the large gulf in the respective league positions and standings of these two teams, it has to be said that the home side were on the receiving end of a bit of a going over during the first half.
A 56 page special edition programme
was issued for tonight's game
Alas, because of the power outage, we'll never know if the Stags would've kept the ante going for another forty five minutes, or if they might have taken their foot off the gas after the interval, like they did against that team from the dark side of the M1 on Saturday.
For what it's worth, the Stags goal scoring efforts panned out thus...
After the Cobras Gareth Curtis fired an early effort into the side netting from twelve yards:
0-1 Paul Digby's shot took a deflection off of a defender and went behind for a corner, from which Alfie Potter picked out Krystian Pearce's near post run and he headed the ball just inside the right hand post after twelve minutes.
0-2 Mal Benning crossed to Calum Butcher, who crashed the ball past Gary Doncaster from deep inside the Clipstone penalty area.
0-3 Benning swapped passes with Jimmy Spencer inside the Cobras area and was unceremoniously upended. From the resulting penalty, as Doncaster moved to his right and Paul Anderson dispatched the spot kick into the other corner, 17 minutes in.
4-0 24 minutes. Butcher once again found the target with an emphatic shot from just outside the area, after Alfie Potter went close twice.
5-0 Anderson took a right wing cross from Digby down on his chest and hooked an overhead shot into the back of the net, from just inside the area in the 28th minute.
6-0 40 minutes, a sublime and unstoppable shot by Potter from eighteen yards out fizzed into the roof of the net
7-0 Butcher set up Spencer inside the last minute of the first half, but his effort crashed off the crossbar... before Digby delivered yet another great ball in from out on the right to Butcher, who completed his hat-trick from inside the six yard box.
The main thing is, that football was the winner tonight. As Mansfield Town took time out for their busy schedule to help out one of their neighbouring non league clubs.
Clipstone were perfect hosts and everything ran like clockwork on the night, except for issues that were outside the control of the club. The hospitality and welcome was great (as per usual), the fifty six page programme (that completely sold out) was very impressive and with scores of youngsters attending free of charge, which must have pushed the attendance up even higher, the volunteers at the Lido Ground catered for everyone present admirably and they should be justifiably proud of their efforts. I hope that they have raised a lot of money from this friendly game, but if you couldn't attend and would still like to make a donation, then feel free to click the link HERE and make a contribution to this worthy cause.
FT: Clipstone (0) A v Mansfield Town (7) A
Good luck to Clipstone FC, both on and off the field of play, for the remainder of the season.

Saturday, 25 November 2017

Sheffield United 1 v Birmingham City 1 - EFL Championship

Saturday 25th November 2017
SkyBet EFL Championship - 5.30pm Kick off
at Bramall Lane
Sheffield United (0) 1
Leon Clarke 71
Birmingham City (1) 1
Jeremie Boga 38
Admission £24. Programme £3.
Attendance 27,427 inc 2,239 away
As polar opposites go, the stark contrast between the respective seasons that these two clubs are currently experiencing, pushes the perimeter edges back, just about as far as they'll go.
The Blades fans are turning out in large numbers, by way of honouring the manner in which Chris Wilder has taken United on a roller coaster ride to the top of Championship, since his side won promotion from League 1 last season.
Whereas Birmingham City's ever impressively sized army of away fans, have been turning up out of stubborn defiance, to a point that is stretching the credibility of the words 'staunchly loyal' almost to breaking point.
Putting things politely, they deserve much better than they've been getting this season, which is at risk of even giving last term's disastrous campaign a run for it's money, in the misery stakes.
The last time I went to St. Andrew's, there was a Joiners van parked in my usual spot, but the chippy's mate said not to worry because his boss would be back soon to move his vehicle, once he'd measured up the manager's office to fit it with a revolving door. Steve Cotterill is the current occupant of that office, whose job it is to turn the fortunes of Birmingham City round... at least he was when I last checked yesterday morning. Joking aside, since the takeover at Blues, which was heralded as the start of something akin to a brave new world, with wealth and riches available to take the club forward beyond the Bluenose faithfuls wildest dreams. The reality of the situation is, that they have seemingly jumped out of the frying pan... and into an even bigger frying pan. But I won't pontificate further, because I'm quite sure that the Samaritans are busy enough already on weekend nights, without me being responsible for pushing anyone else past their tipping point.
Blues employed three central defenders absorbed a lot of pressure from the high flying Blades, as they toughed out an 'away performance' to take a point from their promotion contending opponents.
John Lundstram tested the visitors keeper David Stockdale and Leon Clarke miscued a shot wide of the post, but it was Cotterill's side who took the lead, with a sublime strike from twenty five yard strike by Jeremie Boga on thirty eight minutes, after United had only half cleared a corner kick from José Ignacio Peleteiro Ramallo, or Jota as he is more commonly known.
Just before the interval Birmingham had a great opportunity to grab a second, when Boga played a measured pass down the right to Lukas Jutkiewicz, who took too long on the ball and lost it with Cheikh N'Doye well placed to receive a pass right in front of the Blades goal.
Confusion amongst the United defence and the ensuing mix up almost gifted Boga with a chance to score, but the ball was fielded away to Jutkiewicz, whose first time effort was cleared from in front of the goal line.
The usually free scoring home side, were being restricted by Blues defensive approach, despite their best efforts to break their hard working and well organised visitors down, but in the seventy first minute Clarke made himself a yard of space inside the Birmingham area and drilled his shot past Stockdale from twelve yards.
Once more, as stark contrasts go, Clarke's strike was his ninth goal in four games for the Blades, whereas Jota's long range strike was only the tenth goal that Birmingham  have scored in nineteen league games this season.
The draw means that Sheffield United are now level on points (but third on goal difference) with second placed Cardiff City, who visit Nottingham Forest tomorrow for a 1pm kick off, while Blues edged two points away from the relegation zone, where Sunderland who are snapping at their heels won 2-0 at Burton Albion (who are one pace below the Mackems) earlier today.
Bolton Wanderers remain bottom, three points below Birmingham, after being thrashed 5-1 by league leaders Wolves this afternoon. Wolves are City's next opponents when they visit St. Andrew's a week on Monday, while Sheffield United travel to the new Den to take on Millwall nest weekend.
It's all go in the Championship, innit!?
FT: Sheffield United 1 v Birmingham City 1

Mansfield Town 2 v Chesterfield 2 - EFL League 2

Saturday 25th November 2017
SkyBet EFL League 2 - 1pm Kick off
at the One Call Stadium/Field Mill
Mansfield Town (1) 2
Hayden White 26, Zander Diamond 88
Chesterfield (1) 2
Joe Rowley 14, Andy Kellett 58
Admission £22. Programme £3.
Attendance 7525 inc 1646 away
The Stags went into this afternoon's local derby riding on the crest of a nine match unbeaten run in all competitions, that saw them climb into a play off position in midweek, courtesy an impressive 4-0 win away from home at Port Vale. 
This afternoon's visitors won only one of their opening ten games and as a consequence of their poor start, kicked off in 92nd place (in a 92 team Football League). However, since replacing their manager Gary Caldwell with Jack Lester, the Derbyshire side have enjoyed a recent upturn in results which has seen them claim three wins and two draws from their last six league games, and they arrived at Field Mill today, off the back of a 3-2 win over Forest Green Rovers at the Proact Stadium on Tuesday night.
Seventeen league paces, fifteen points, fifteen miles and a whole load of long standing and very deep rooted loathing, animosity and mutually reciprocated ill will; was all that stood between these two sides, as the players took to the pitch for the police dictated kick off time of 1pm. And regardless of how much of a morale boosting result this 2-2 draw must have been for the visitors, those statistics remain exactly the same in the aftermath of this local derby stalemate.
There are large elements within the fan bases of both of these clubs who genuinely despise each other, with a passion, twenty four hours a day and three hundred and sixty five days per year. So I personally don't see what difference a couple of hours makes to the equation.
I've heard said that 'hate' itself is far too strong a word to be bandied about in the context of any football rivalry, but I would dispute any such claim in relation this particular fixture.
And I'm damn sure that anybody who has ever been at the sharp end of the 'matchday experience', when these two sides have met previously, would agree entirely with my point of view to that end, regardless of which side of the great divide they hail from.
It had been advertised over the course of the week in the build up to the game, that both sets of supporters were being asked to put their differences aside and join in a minutes applause in the 12th minute, by way of a tribute to a 12 year old Chesterfield supporter, Abbie Jacques, who passed away last month due to complications with the type 1 diabetes she was suffering from. And sadly, only yesterday, young Dawson Willcock, from Sutton-in-Ashfield, also died, of a rare strain of cancer aged just 2. Subsequently a minutes applause was also held in his memory in the second minute. 
The plight of both children and their families, was well known to the the supporters of their respective clubs. But, given the short notice of these arrangements and taking into account that not everybody, by any stretch of the imagination, has access to social media and the like and will have seen any of the advance publicity, both of these acts of remembrance were impeccably observed by both sets of supporters.  
Mansfield will rue the fact that they didn't put a few more finishing touches to their dominant probing and pressing, during a virtually one way first half
Yet, in the final analysis, they'll also be relieved that they grabbed an equaliser with just two minutes to go, after they had been outplayed in the second, when Zander Diamond headed home Alex MacDonald's cross, to chalk up the second goal that went against the run of play of the afternoon, after Joe Rowley had scored the first one with the Spireites solitary attempt on goal, during an  opening forty five minutes, during which the home side had created enough chances to already have put the game beyond Chesterfield's reach well before the interval.
Jacob Mellis in particular had several opportunities to put the visitors to the sword, as he combined with Alex MacDonald, and Omari Sterling-James to form a three pronged attack.
And MacDonald was denied what looked like a stonewall penalty, when Robbie Weir appeared to trip him en route to goal, after he'd left the visitors number twenty eight looking like a spare mannequin at a fashion show with a neat turn of pace.
But despite the relentless flow of Mansfield pressure, it was their 'nearest and dearest' local rivals, who made a smash and grab raid to claim the opening goal, when Jak McCourt delivered a left wing cross deep into the Stags area that Andy Kellett touched to Joe Rowley, who hooked a curling shot over Conrad Logan.
On 26 minutes Hayden White paced forward into the Chesterfield area, to take a return pass from Omari Sterling-James in his stride and having committed Joe Anyon into moving from his line, crashed the ball past the exposed Spireites keeper.
Rowley's goal hadn't knocked Mansfield out of their stride at all, and they soon picked up the ante and put Jack Lester's side under the cosh again, but as Mellis saw another effort skim past the upright, there was a growing concern that while so many good chances were going begging, the old adage that says that the form book goes out of the window when local bragging rights are at stake, might just be waiting in the wings to make an appearance.
HT: Stags 1 v Spireites 1
The second half was pretty much identical to the first, inasmuch as it was mostly played towards the North Stand, as Chesterfield, boosted by still being on level terms at the break, after taking a real pounding against the ropes with their gum shields out before the half time whistle, emerged from the players tunnel like a different team and took the game to their hosts with a vengeance.
The Stags for their part had seemingly had a collective memory loss during the interval and had forgotten how to pass to each other, keep their shape and stay tight on their opponents to prevent them from being creative and building up a wave of attacks.
Danny Rose was cutting a lonely figure up front on his own, particularly with Ian Evatt 'marking' the Stags striker closely and winning everything in the air that was intended for Rose, who really needed more service on the ground and support, as Jerome Binnon-Williams and Sam Hird teamed up with Evatt to keep the Mansfield front man quiet with their 'physical presence'.
Dennis almost got a second for the Spireites when he hit the bar... and Logan was forced into action by both Dennis and Rowley.
Though it pains me to say so, it would be fair to say, that it had been coming, when, in the fifty eighth minute, the unmarked Kellett directed a free header past Logan from a Kristian Dennis cross
With Mansfield still reeling from the blow of going behind again. 
Will the real Mansfield Town please stand up!?
It had been a blow for the Stags faithful when Rowley had opened the scoring in  the first half while the home side were in the ascendancy, but it must have been a real sickener for the deflated Spireite hordes, when MacDonald sent a dipping cross into the visitors area, that Diamond met like an incoming express train to ram his header past Anyon, to score the late equaliser, that undid all of Chesterfield's second half endeavours.
On the balance of the whole ninety minutes, the draw was probably a fair result, given that both teams had ruled the roost for forty five minutes apiece, but missing out on the three points that would have lifted their side off of the bottom of the table so late in the game, was a proper kick in the knackers for the Spireites, who were all but already celebrating an away win.
Danny Rose and Alfie Potter both had chances to win the game for Steve Evans side in stoppage time, and if either effort had gone in, that would really have rubbed the salt into the wounds of the visitors, but it wasn't to be. And both sides had to make do with a point each.
FT: Mansfield Town 2 v Chesterfield 2
It's something of an understatement, but I don't much care for Chesterfield, but on today's evidence, if Jack Lester can get them playing like they did in the second half, then there is every chance that they will pull away from the relegation places... but not if they ride their luck like they did in the first.
That's ten games unbeaten in a row for the Stags in all competitions now... just saying!
The Stags are playing a fundraising game at Clipstone FC on Tuesday night (kickoff 7pm), before they face Guiseley AFC, who are managed by two ex Stags managers: Paul Cox and Adam Murray, at home, in the FA Cup 2nd Round, on Sunday 3rd November (2pm kick off).
If anybody of the amber persuasion wants a game to watch on Saturday, the currently table topping and reigning EFL Youth Alliance (North) champions: Mansfield Town U18, are at home against Lincoln City. 
The game kicks off at 11AM and will be played at Rainworth Miners Welfare, with an admission charge of £3. See you all there!

Thursday, 23 November 2017

Retford United 3 v Swallownest 3 - WVH NMU19L

Thursday 23rd November 2017
Worksop Van Hire North Midland U19 League (North)
at Cannon Park, Leverton Road, Retford
Retford United (0) 3
CallumWilson 53, 78, Zach Casburn 90+3
Swallownest (0) 3
Liam Smart 68, Conor Gregg 85, Frazer Stenton 88
Admission £3 inc. programme
Chances galore went begging at either end during a goalless first half, as two evenly matched sides created plenty of opportunities, but couldn't quite provide a telling touch, while both keepers proved to be fleet of foot when coming off of their line to deal with any danger that manifested itself around the perimeter of their respective penalty areas and beyond.
The nearest that the Badgers came to breaking the deadlock before the break, was when Callum Amedola made a neat turn twenty five yeards out to make himself the room to try his luck with a dipping shot that fell just wide of the right hand upright and shortly afterwards Declan Heath's well struck half volley was tipped round the post at full stretch by Lewis Mills.
'Swall' looked odds on to take the lead, when a Joel Cousins cross presented Conor Gregg with a free header eight yards out, that he directed a fraction the wrong side of the upright and when Liam Smart threaded a defence splitting through ball to Jack Larrisey, the Retford captain had to spread himself and smother the ball at the feet of the visitors number eight.
Ironically, after we'd joked at half time that we could've recorded the score as 0-0 and nipped off home early to get thawed out on a brass monkey's kind of a cold night at ice station Cannon Park, neither side could stop scoring after the restart and several of the goals came from real quality strikes, that you fair-weather local football fans, who had stayed in watching Ant & Dec narrating D list 'celebrities' eating kangaroo testicle and dingo dangly bits soup, quite frankly deserved to have missed.
Liam Smart went close for the visitors when he crashed an angled shot past the far post from just inside the Retford area, but in spite of the Badgers having to absorb a spell of pressure by the 'Swall' youngsters, it was Callum Wilson who opened the scoring, when he looped a header over Mills from the edge of the area from a long knock forward in the fifty third minute.
Retford United
Wilson and then Heath had chances in quick succession to double the hosts lead but couldn't find the target, while at the other end, Gamble did well to save from Larrisey after Jack Bancroft's free kick had taken a deflection and sat up invitingly for the visitors attacking midfielder.
Larrisey was involved again when he set up Gregg who could only divert the ball over the bar from close range.
Smart went close again, but found his touch on sixty minutes, as Swallownest forced two corners and the second one from Cousins, out on the left was only half cleared into his path and he spanked it into the roof of the net from on the right hand side of the area, twelve yards from goal.
Bancroft let fly with a long distance free kick, but Gamble stretched to his right and tipped the ball over the bar. Once more, United survived a few close shaves at their own end and took the lead again from  the other, when Amendola rolled a sideways pass to Wilson and he unleashed an unstoppable thirty yard shot into the top corner of the visitors goal. What a quality strike!
Swallownest
Cousins delivered a left wing cross towards Gregg, but the 'Swall' number nine cleared the bar with his header, but finally Gregg got just rewards for his efforts, when he forced the ball over the line as Cousins drove a cross come shot across the face of the Retford goal with just five minutes remaining.
Jack Thorpe's well timed interception prevented Louis Colley from getting a clear strike at the visitors goal, while Dan King's effort was fielded by Mills.
With two minutes of the scheduled ninety left to go, Frazer Stenton smashed the ball past Gamble from all of thirty yards out, it was a goal worthy of winning any game and as the game moved into to stoppage time, it looked to all intents and purposes as though the sixteen year old had won all three points for the South Yorkshire side, but Zach Casburn showed his predatory instincts inside the third added minute, with a decisive touch amidst a crowd of bodies in the Swallownest area and earned a draw for the Badgers right at the death.
FT: Retford United U19 3 v Swallownest U19 3
Well done to the match officials: Lee Clarke,Tristan Churcher and Richard Mills who handled tonight's lively and competitive game well.
The slimline Clarke is the best before and after advertisement I've seen for weight watchers in a long time... keep up the good work Twiggy!

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Gainsborough Trinity 2 v Boston United 2 - Lincs County Cup Final (Gainsborough Trinity won 3-1 on penalties)

Tuesday 21st November 2017
Lincolnshire County Cup final
at the Martin & Co. Arena - the Northolme
Gainsborough Trinity (1) 2
Alex Simmons 24
Craig King 82
Boston United (1) 2
Reece Thompson 41, 86
Admission £8. Attendance 323
Gainsborough Trinity won 3-1 on penalties
The last time these two sides met was was in a National League North fixture, was last season, at the Northolme, on January 1st 2017, when Trinity took the lead through Jamie Reid, before Jay Rollins equalised for Boston and Josh Robinson snatched a last minute winner for the visitors. Blog report HERE
Until tonight, the two teams hadn't played each other during the current campaign yet , but they are scheduled to go head to head at York Street on Boxing Day and again at the Northolme on New Years Day.
When Adam Murray recently resigned his position at Boston United, the York Street based club instilled Shaw Lane AFC's Craig Elliott into their vacant manager's post, after Karl Hawley had filled in as caretaker for three games during the interim, while Murray subsequently moved on to Guiseley, where he has once again become assistant to Paul Cox, who he previously worked alongside at Mansfield Town.
After Cox left the Stags, Murray took on the manger's role there, assisted by none other than Karl Hawley, before they were replaced by Steve Evans, who of course, used to be Boston United's manager a few years ago.
The Pilgrim's lost Elliott's first game in charge at the weekend, 3-1 against Harrogate Town at Wetherby Road, while Dave  Frecklington's 'Holy Blues' picked up a morale boosting 1-0 win at the Northolme against FC United of Manchester.
En route to tonight's showpiece game, Gainsborough had beaten both Lincoln City (4-1) and Grantham Town (3-2) at home, while the visitors progressed to the final via wins against Grimsby Town (3-0) at home and Lincoln United (1-0) away.
Prior to tonight's kick off an impeccably observed minutes silence was held in memory of Mr Bernard Perkins, a long standing Trinity supporter, who sadly passed away recently.
Rest in peace Bernard. And condolences to all of his family and friends.
Gainsborough Trinity:
Henrich Ravas, Michael Jacklin, Kern Miller, Nathan Stainfield; Craig King, Jordan Richards, Shane Clarke (C), Liam King, Curtis Bateson; Ashley Worsfold, Alex Simmons (Bradley Wells 80)
Unused subs - Josh Lacey, Tom Davie, Matty Taylor, Ellis Storey.
Boston United:
George Willis, James Clifton, Jordan Keane, Brad Beatson, Jan Yeomans; Tyrell Waite (Harry Vince 89), Jamie McGuire (C), Jack Broadhead, Ashley Hemmings; Reece Thompson, Kabongo Tshimanga (Gregg Smith 83)
Unused sub - Karl Hawley.
"We're the pride of Lincolnshire!" sang (some of) the Trinity fans as Curtis Bateson, who only returned to the Northolme fold from North Ferriby United earlier this week, slotted his penalty kick past George Ellis in the shoot out that decided where the Lincolnshire County Cup was heading this season, after these two sides had played out an entertaining draw, in which the home side had taken the lead twice, through Alex Simmons and Craig King, only for the former Retford United, Frickley Athletic, York City and North Ferriby United striker: Reece Thompson to equalise twice, in the closing moments of both halves.
Tonight's final pitched seventeenth placed Trinity against Boston who currently lay in twenty first, five points behind their hosts and one place (and nine points) above the aforementioned bottom club North Ferriby United.
The home side probed forward, looking for an opening early on, with Craig King dictating the pace on the right hand side of the pitch, while the Pilgrims, who set up in a tried, tested and traditional 4-4-2 formation, initially seemed to favour a more direct approach, trying to utilise the pace of Thompson and the former England U17 wide man Ashley Hemmings.
George Willis moved swiftly from his line to deal with Michael Jacklin's right wing cross towards Ash Worsfold as play began to open up.
Willis is a former Gainsborough player, while Henrich Ravas, the Slovakian keeper who is earning rave reviews during his loan spell at the Northolme from Derby County as previously turned out for the Pilgrims in the Nationwide League, as well as having trials at Peterborough United a few seasons ago.
Dave Frecklington, the Holy Blues manager called the game "a pleasant distraction from the pressures of league football", as he locked horns once again with Craig Elliott, who he'd faced while he was still involved in Evo-Stik League management, at both Lincoln United and Spalding United, before he moved to Trinity, and Elliott recently took over the reigns at York Street having taken Shaw Lane AFC to the first round of the FA Cup v Mansfield Town earlier this month.
The industrious Liam King tried his luck from distance, but Willis was equal to his shot.
Both Kings, Liam and Craig, put in a great shift for the home side, with the former being named as man of the match, while the latter probably just shaded it input wise in my humble opinion and would have got my vote if push came to shove and I'd been asked to decide... but I wasn't, so hey ho!
(C) King played a great ball out to Shane Clarke on the right flank, who advanced forward before crossing towards Curtis Bateson, but Jordan Keane had read the situation well and cleared up at the back for the visitors.
Alex Simmons was fouled, twenty five yards from the Boston goal and elected to take the free kick himself, forcing a save out of Willis, who got down to his right to force the ball round the post at full stretch.
It was Simmons who broke the deadlock after twenty four minutes, drilling the ball past Willis at the second attempt, after (C) King's far post right wing free kick had been directed back across the face of Boston's six yard box.
The home side almost doubled their lead moments later, when (C) King's left wing corner picked out Nathan Stainfield who headed the ball against the crossbar.
The Pilgrims fans appealed for a penalty as Broadhead went to ground in the Trinity area, but the referee, Martin Chester was well placed to make a judgement and waved play on.
Jamie McGuire, the visitors captain, who is still involved as a development team coach at Mansfield Town, was conserving his energy well, wearing out a small circle of grass in the middle of the park, as Boston attacked towards the end of the first half... and Kabongo Tshimanga unlocked the Trinity defence with a 'keyhole surgery' pass through the narrowest of gaps to pick out Thompson who smashed home the equalising goal just inside the left hand post.
Having had the better of the first half, Gainsborough were almost undone with a sucker punch just before the half time whistle, when Willis launched a long free kick up the field, that released Jay Rollins on the left hand side of the Trinity area, but his knock across the face of goal lacked the power to trouble Ravas.
HT: Holy Blues 1 v Pilgrims 1
Trinity made a cagey start to the second half, with Jacklin being forced to hook the ball clear from in front of his own goal, after Thompson had put on a burst of pace to round Stainfield before delivering the ball towards Broadhead from the dead ball line and when the loose ball fell to McGuire he shot over the crossbar. Get back to doing your stuff in the centre circle pal!
But it was the home side who scored next... at least they thought they had, when Rollins made an unnecessary grab at Bateson as he advanced foward on the left flank. Clarke headed Simmons resulting free kick into the roof of the Boston net, but the assistant's flag was up for an offside and the goal was ruled out.
Hemmings combined well with James Clifton whose dipping cross found Tshimanga who couldn't quite get his header down and on target.
Having absorbed a spell of pressure from the visitors, Gainsborough upped the ante themselves, but Boston defended well against a string of dead ball deliveries into their area and it became apparent that with very little to separate these two sides,this one was going down to the wire.
Thompson had strayed a fag paper's width offside from Broadhead's forward pass and Bateson turned the ball wide of the Boston goal, when he had time and space to put the home side back in front, after (C) King's knock across the Pilgrims area found it's way through to the unmarked number eleven.
Worsfold picked the ball up thirty five yards out and played it out wide to (C) King, whose cross cum shot was held by Willis.
Brad Wells was sent on in place of Simmons, with ten minutes to go and started the move (and almost finished it) that led to the Holy Blues second goal, when he won the ball and laid it off wide to Stainfield, who combined with Clarke before crossing back to Wells... and when the ball skimmed off the substitutes striker's head and Boston failed to clear the loose ball, (C) King buried an angled shot past Willis with eight minutes remaining.
But as the engravers prepared to scribe the name of Gainsborough Trinity on the trophy, there was a late twist in the tale, as Broadhead dug in and won the ball, before spraying a pass out to Hemmings whose cross was met by Thompson who deftly planted his headed finish past Ravas to level things up again.
In stoppage time, Hemmings lobbed Ravas from the edge of the box, but the Trinity keeper twisted backwards and tipped the ball over his bar.
And that was that. The Lincolnshire County Cup final would be decided on a penalty shoot out.
FT: Gainsborough Trinity 2 v Boston United 2
Hemmings stepped forward and took the first kick and glanced the ball off of the wrong side of the right hand upright.
Liam King took responsibility for Trinity's first effort and capped off a great night's work with a good finish. 
Thompson, who had already found the net twice on the night, was thwarted by Ravas from the spot, as Boston failed to score from their first two attempts and Worsfold calmly made it 2-0 after two shots apiece with the nest effort.
Gregg Smith made no mistake with the Pilgrims third effort, but Kern Miller smashed Trinity's next penalty against the crossbar, which he hit with such ferocity it is probably still shaking right now.
Ravas pulled off a brilliant save from Clifton's effort, meaning that Trinity would win the shoot out outright if Bateson found the net with the next kick... and he duly delivered, to win the County Cup for the Holy Blues.
Gainsborough Trinity win 3-1 on penalties.
Congratulations to Dave Frecklington and his team. Whatever some people might think about staging a cup final in November, right in the middle of a busy fixture schedule, tonight's result has got to be a morale booster for the winning side, who now face Stafford Rangers in a FA Trophy tie at the Northolme on Saturday, while the Pilgrims entertain Kidderminster Harriers at home in the same competition.

Saturday, 18 November 2017

Mansfield Town 1 v Bradford City 0 - EFLYA U18

Saturday 18th November 2017
EFL U18 Youth Alliance (North)
at Kirklington Road, Rainworth MWFC
Mansfield Town (0) 1
Riley O'Sullivan 77 pen
Bradford City (0) 0
'Point and hope' photo gallery HERE
Mansfield Town:
Harrison Davidson, Cam Weston, Henri Wilder, JackCornell, Steve Johnson, Aiden Walker, Nyle Blake, Jake Dumbleton, Iyewah Gooden, Keaton Ward, Riley O'Sullivan
Subs - Keaton Mars, Sam Jackson, Harry Bircumshaw, Luke Morgan, Rhys Sarson
Bradford City:
George Sykes-Kenworthy, Jeremie Milambo, Reece Staunton, Sam Wright, Josef Hefele, Oliver Kirkpatrick, Raeece Ellington, Jake Maltby, Albert Ibrahimi, Matt Birchall, Reece Powell
Subs - Alfie Darke, Neil Patience, Kielen Adams, Dylan Drovi, Junayd Pandor
An away win (by a margin of three goals) against Burton Albion on Tuesday afternoon, will see the reigning back to back champions, Mansfield Town, climb above Oldham Athletic and move to the top of the Youth Alliance (north) table; after today's narrow 1-0 win, courtesy of a seventy seventh minute Riley O'Sullivan penalty, saw the young Stags move sharply up the table from fifth to second, as just reward for a hard working performance against a resilient Bradford City side.
When Rainworth was chosen as a site for wind turbines, somebody had done their research well, and yet again, the biting north wind whipped across the Kirklington Road pitch, making things awkward for both teams and affecting the end to end flow of the game.
George Sykes-Kenworthy the Bantams goalkeeper was commanding his area well from the outset, as Jake Dumbleton and Riley O'Sullivan battled against a packed defence, to find the final touch from the service given to them by Keaton Ward and Nyle Blake, who started out wide on the left flank, but moved to right back for fifteen minutes or so as the Stags switched to four at the back to preserve their hard won lead, while Cam Weston looked comfortable when he moved inside to link up with the solid partnership of Steve Johnson and Aiden Walker, who compliment each other well, which allowed Henri Wilder to get forward more on the left, where the Stags captain is understandably attracting a lot of attention for his powerhouse performances.
Jack Cornell continues to impress me in midfield, working non stop as a link man, putting a foot in, breaking up a string of potential Bradford attacks and playing the simple passes that kept the Stags ticking over, without being over elaborate. He's the kind of player who might get overlooked by those sort of people who only remember the goals and glamorous moments once the final whistle has sounded, but the Mansfield coaches will appreciate his worth to the team and the effort he put in today.
The visitors right back, Jeremie Milambo, was all over any Stags player who ventured into his territory like a rash, with a no holds barred approach to the game that annoys the hell out of opponents and attracts the attention of match officials. Respect is due to Dumbleton, who held his own didn't let this kind of 'man marking' Knock him out of his stride unduly, but in Milambo, Bradford obviously have a decent battling prospect who has the attributes required to make the step up from development team football when he comes of age.
Dumbleton drew his marker and slipped the ball sideways to Wilder who picked out Blake with a left wing delivery, but Sykes-Kenworthy saved the resulting shot.
Wilder got free on the left again and crossed towards Dumbleton, who was crowded out by three Bradford defenders and couldn't get his shot away.
Ward dropped a precision delivery for Steve Johnson who had made a run forward at a corner, but obviously the visitors keeper has been working hard in training, on dealing with crosses and he got up well to claim the ball. I'm not so sure that I'd be too keen in getting in the way of Steve Johnson charging towards me at full tilt with no intention of putting the brakes on, but each to their own.
Right at the end of the first half, Walker dealt with two dangerous looking balls into the Stags area from Reece Powell, taking the first off of Raeece Ellington and blocking the second before it reached Albert Ibrahimi. Aiden Walker patiently waited in the wings last season, making just a few fleeting appearances, but he's grasped his opportunity to make an impression with both hands this season and been a model of consistency.
HT: Stags 0 v Bantams 0
He having seen off both Grimsby Town and Rotherham United away from home in the FA Youth Cup, earning themselves a home tie in the third round against Crystal Palace, the Stags youngsters seasons as clicked into gear at just the right time, as the second year players and newcomers begin to gel and though they laboured at times in testing conditions today, while meeting fire with fire and not allowing themselves to be intimidated against a physical Bradford side, who resolutely kept their well drilled shape, they had that extra bit of quality to see the game out and claim maximum points.
Ward released Wilder on the left wing, but Sykes-Kenworthy dealt with his cross again. Wilder returned moments later and delivered a lower ball across the face of goal, that Blake connected with at full stretch, but could only divert over the bar. 
The visitors conceded a free kick twenty yards out, Wilder curled the ball towards the top right corner, but the Bantams keeper claimed it. 
Wilder was fired up and revelling in getting forward more, Iyrwah Gooden held the ball up well and threaded it through to meet Wilder's overlapping run, but Josef Hefele bravely put his body in the way and block the Stag captain's shot. Cornell picked out Wilder with a clever diagonal ball, but Milambro charged across and hooked the ball away.
Modern day football is a squad game and Sam Jackson added some fresh impetus to the Stags forward play through the left channel, while Rhys Sarson and Harry Bircumshaw, combined to chip away at the tiring visitors defence, who'd put in a shift and a half.
Sarson ran straight at the Bradford defence and as they broke rank to intercept his run, nudged the ball through to Wilder whose shot was well saved. On any other day, Wilder could've had a hat trick by now, such was his influence on the Stags attack.
Blake's long throw was flicked on by Wilder and O'Sullivan's crashing shot was blocked, giving Milambo the chance to hook the ball away for another throw in. Which Blake took and found the head of Walker whose nod across the face of the visitors goal was scrambled away.
From the next Mansfield attack, Walker challenged for the ball just inside the Bradford area and when Oliver Kirkpatrick grabbed the Stags defenders shoulders, the referee blew up and pointed to the penalty spot.
Sykes-Kenworthy went the right way, but the ferocity of O'Sullivan's precision strike into the bottom right hand corner, made the Bradford keeper look as though he'd dived in slow motion.
O'Sullivan almost doubled the Stags lead moments later, when a good knock from Sarson put him through one on one with Sykes-Kenworthy, but when he rolled the ball past the advancing keeper, Milambo raced back and slid in to turn the ball away off the line.
With the clock ticking down, Blake who was now back in attack, as the Stags made another seamless tactical switch, had the chance to put the result out of Bradford's reach, but when Sarson's pass sent him running through the right channel,he didn't get enough power behind his shot to trouble the visitors ever reliable keeper.
Right at the death, Mansfield were almost hit with a sucker punch, when Junayd Pandor, who had impressed since entering the fray as a late substitute, struck a long range shot that skimmed narrowly wide of the left hand post. Phew!
Harrison Davidson, playing in goal, in place of the the injured Xavier Sundby, had a steady enough game although he was rarely seriously tested, but his team mates had won the day, thanks to his clean sheet (the Stags fourth in a row) and O'Sullivan's well struck penalty.
Mansfield had enough chances to win by a higher margin, but the visitors defence and their keeper played well, on a horrible windy day, so all told, a win is a win and another three points hasn't done the young Stags chances of winning another league title any harm at all.
FT: Mansfield Town U18 1 v Bradford City U18 0