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PRE-SEASON: RETFORD UTD 0-2 MANSFIELD U21/U18
13th July 2019 23:34


Retford United 0-2 Mansfield Town U21/U18
Law pen 27, Knowles 42
Att 525

9 July 2019

Report by Sam Binch at Cannon Park

A youthful Stags team ran out winners in their first pre-season game in England, beating non-league Retford United 2-0 on a pleasant Tuesday evening. Much like last year, Retford weren't up to much but at least provided a physical test for a team mainly consisting of U23's, plus skipper for the evening, former player and youth coach Jamie McGuire. Former youth player Jack Hawkins was amongst the substitutes and referred to as a trialist.

All first team players and staff were in attendance and interacted with fans prior to the game and throughout the first half. A nice touch for the travelling Stags fans, who had turned up in much bigger numbers than last year.

The team was as follows :

M Campbell;
Aiden Walker, Noah Stokes, Lewis Gibbens;
James Clarke, Jamie McGuire, Alistair Smith, Jason Law;
Tom Fielding, Tyrese Sinclair;
Jimmy Knowles

The first chance came on 6 minutes, when a Retford free-kick from the flight was floated towards the back post where Campbell was forced into a reaction save by an instinctive header. The resulting corner was punched away by Campbell. A minute later, another corner from the hosts was diverted into the car park by a wayward bicycle kick.

On 8 minutes, a lovely ball through from Sinclair into the left channel was caught on the byline by Knowles. He made his way in towards the penalty spot where his shot was blocked for a corner. The corner was taken short and Sinclair's shot from the left cleared the stand.

Jamie McGuire was up to his usual antics in the middle of the park, winding up the opposition striker, who earned himself a stern word from the referee.

On 12 minutes, a Fielding effort from a central position rebounded into the air and Lewis Gibbens volleyed powerfully wide. Great execution from the defender. A minute later, Sinclair again cut in from the left and sent a shot over the stand. Despite his wayward finishing, the tricky forward was causing all sorts of problems.

On the quarter hour mark, a typically late McGuire challenged brought a warning from the referee. A couple of years ago, McGuire still wouldn't have got to the ball on time!

The Stags were moving the ball patiently around the back line, Noah Stokes looking particularly composed at the heart of the defence. McGuire barked orders at his young teammates, not always to their appreciation.

On 25 minutes, Mansfield won a penalty. A cross from the left was brought under control by Knowles. He turned sharply around the penalty spot and drew a foul from the defender. A clear penalty. Jason Law took responsibility, but saw his low shot to the keepers right saved. The ball rebounded straight back into danger towards Knowles who took a nudge from the defender and the referee awarded a second penalty. The general consensus from those around me that the second penalty was soft. The Retford striker, earlier wound up by McGuire, certainly thought so and was booked for his protests. Law stepped up again, put it in exactly the same spot, but this time the ball squirmed under the keeper and into the net. Not the best two penalties I've ever seen, but fair play to Law for stepping up a second time. 1-0 Mansfield.

Following the goal, Aiden Walker had picked up an injury and was replaced by George Cooper, who slotted in to the right side of defence.

On 31 minutes, Tyrese Sinclair was close to scoring a brilliant goal. His free-kick from 30 yards left the Retford keeper motionless but he was denied by the crossbar. Knowles headed the rebound over the bar. Another attack followed, Sinclair again the architect for Knowles who was put through one-on-one, only to stab his effort at the keeper and behind for a corner, which came to nothing.

Five minutes prior to half-time, Tom Fielding cut inside from the right and curled a shot straight at the keeper from range. Knowles did well to win the ball back initially.

The Stags doubled their lead on 42 minutes. After a Retford defender stood on the ball, Fielding pounced and slipped Knowles through into the right side of the box. Knowles fooled the defender with a drop of the shoulder before sitting the keeper down, rounding the keeper to his left with a lovely roll over the top of the ball and slotting into the empty net. An accomplished finish from Knowles.

A good half for the young Stags which they completely dominated against a visibly diminishing Retford.

No changes for Mansfield at half-time, whilst the home side made five or six. The attendance was announced as 525, a great turnout.

A minute into the second half and Sinclair was back over a free-kick about 25 yards from goal. His curling effort was pushed out by the keeper to the feet of Knowles who somehow managed to miss the target from a couple of yards.

On 49 minutes, a McGuire ball over the top led to a blocked shot by Knowles. The ball came to Fielding on the left, who crossed to the Clarke on the far post. The wing back chested down and laid the ball off to Sinclair, who struck a a shot straight at the keeper.

On 54 minutes, Tom Fielding was replaced by Kian Sketchley. Sketchley came to LWB, with Law pushing into attacking midfield.

On the hour, a lovely ball through by Sinclair got Clarke away down the right. He squared the ball on a plate for Knowles who attempted a Cruyff style flick which was blocked on the line. Knowles may have had a hat-trick on another night.

On 65 minutes, Sinclair's in-swinging corner from the left was headed wide by Smith.

Tyrese Sinclair was substituted following a knock on the 68th minute. It wasn't the first he had picked up as the Retford players had resorted to kicking him out of the game. He limped off to a well deserved ovation from the spectators. 'Trialist' Jack Hawkins was his replacement.

Sinclair seemed to take the excitement with him at the game descended into a keep ball exercise for the young Stags, whilst Retfords frustration boiled over with a few needless fouls, one particularly bad one on Hawkins which led to handbags. The truth is, they just weren't good enough to live with Mansfield.

On 75 minutes, Clarke was replaced by King, and 5 minutes later, Knowles came off for Scott.

With one minute remaining, Law played in Sketchley down the left but his low cross ran straight through the Retford area.

Full time and a comfortable 2-0 victory for the Stags. Tyrese Sinclair was definitely the star performer for Richard Cooper's side. Noah Stokes and Lewis Gibbens also had very good games. The young side can be proud of how they equipped themselves and their resilience against a physical, albeit not very impressive, Retford side. On to Bradford Park Avenue on Thursday, before a trip to Alfreton on Saturday.

Line-up:
M Campbell;
Aiden Walker, Noah Stokes, Lewis Gibbens;
James Clarke, Jamie McGuire, Alistair Smith, Jason Law;
Tom Fielding, Tyrese Sinclair;
Jimmy Knowles

Subs:
Cooper, for Walker 28
Sketchley, for Fielding 54
Hawkins, for Sinclair 68
King, for Clarke 75
Scott, for Knowles 80

Retford United: Crosby (GK), Swales, Smith, Gasui, Blakemore, Kane, Irvine, Walters, Watson, West, Dawson.

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Youngsters ‘delivered’ in friendly - academy manager
mansfieldtown.net

Academy manager Richard Cooper says that tonight’s youthful Mansfield lineup ‘delivered’ in what he describes as an ‘important game’ away to Retford United.

The 2-0 victory over the Badgers was preceded by a ‘meet and greet’ session with the Stags’ first team players and staff.

Cooper says that due to Stags’ first team boss John Dempster being present at the game, it was important that Mansfield’s youngsters displayed a positive performance.

“It was a great test,” he began. “It was very physical at times. We challenged the boys before the game to try and use the ball correctly.

https://www.mansfieldtown.net/news/2019/july/cooper-post-retford-away/

“I think we did that for large parts of the game - we controlled the possession, and we were really pleased with it [performance].

“I think there were a few frustrations towards the end of the game, but credit to our young lads.

“It was good to see a few of our new scholars out on the pitch as well.

“I thought he [Jimmy Knowles] took it [goal] really well. It was probably the move of the game.

“We switched the play quickly and managed to get a little slide pass into Jimmy, who did the rest. It was a great finish from him.

“We had a great pre-season tour in Portugal, and the under-21s were a large part of that.

“The gaffer [John Dempster] had a great chat with the boys before the game, so it was an important game. I think the boys have delivered tonight.”

Former captain and current academy head of recruitment Jamie McGuire completed 90 minutes in the match, someone that Cooper describes as a ‘vital’ character to have at the club.

The academy manager also confirmed that former youth team scholar Jack Hawkins - who came on as a late substitute in the game at Cannon Park - has joined the Stags’ academy coaching staff.

“Having Jamma [Jamie McGuire] is vital,” added Cooper. “It’s great to have him in and around the younger lads.

“He captained our football club for so many years, so for this type of fixture we thought it was a good idea to get some experience in the middle of the pitch.

“Jack [Hawkins] has joined the coaching staff, and he’s obviously an ex-player. He was a young pro’ at the football club as well, so it was great to get another experienced head on near the end [of the game].”

Cooper also gave an update on defender Aiden Walker, who was replaced midway through the first-half.

“We’ve tried to look at it back a few times to see where he’s banged his head. But he’s definitely showing some signs of concussion.

“We’ll know more in the morning.”

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