RESERVES DRAW AT WALSALL / JORDAN GRAHAM BACK
Reserves report: Walsall 1-1 Stags
Tue 15 Oct 2019, mansfieldtown.net, by Jack Hasler
A late Jordan Graham finish secured Stags’ reserves a point against Walsall in their opening Central League fixture of the season.
After eight months on the sidelines, 21-year-old Graham combined with CJ Hamilton to score a deserved equaliser in the 87th minute.
The amber and blue had been behind since the half hour mark when James Hardy powered past Aidan Stone from the edge of the area.
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The Stags were on top during the opening stages, creating the first goal-scoring opportunities of the afternoon.
Tom Fielding came close with a low drive which flew narrowly past the post. Hamilton was then denied by a last ditch Callum Cockerill-Mollett challenge as he closed in on goal.
Walsall then, with their first and only clear opportunity of the match, opened the scoring after 30 minutes. Hardy picked up a loose ball before striking firmly into the top left corner.
Despite falling behind, the Stags continued their control of the game after the break, as they pressed for an equaliser. Willem Tomlinson and Hamilton both sent efforts over the crossbar.
Jimmy Knowles then had two openings. The first, a header, fell just wide after a Tomlinson cross. He then fired over after the ball fell his way on the edge of the area.
Richard Cooper’s side finally, after persistent pressure, got what they deserved when substitute Graham, making his first appearance since injury back in February, slotted home the leveller.
Hamilton flew down the right before laying off to Graham who calmly side-footed into the net to ensure the two sides would begin their Central League seasons with a point apiece.
Next up for the reserves is a meeting with Peterbrough United in two weeks’ time in the Central League Cup as they look to earn their first victory of the season.
WALSALL RESERVES XI: Rose, Pring (Foulkes 67’), Bates, Cockerill-Mollett, Roberts, Campbell, Mukadam, Allamby-John (Pearce 67’), Hardy (Moss 67’), Norman (Little 67’), Willis (Johnson 67’).
UNUSED SUBS: Rogerson.
STAGS RESERVES XI: Stone, Gibbens, Walker, Hamilton, Smith, Tomlinson, Fielding (Graham 62’), Knowles, Afolayan, Clarke, Law.
UNUSED SUBS: Campbell, Chisholm, Sketchley, Tomlin.
Striker marks return with late equaliser
After eight months on the sidelines, striker Jordan Graham said it was ‘great to be back out there’ following his late equaliser in yesterday’s Central League match against Walsall.
The amber and blue were trailing for the entirety of the second-half before substitute Graham found the net in the 87th minute after winger CJ Hamilton’s pinpoint cross.
Completing his first 30 minutes of game time since February due to a knee injury, the forward said it was good to be back on the pitch with his team-mates.
“It’s good [to be back]. It’s been a long time, eight months now,” he began. “It was only 30 minutes but it was just great to be back out there.
“It felt good with my running, I was a bit tired but it was good to get back out there.
“There have been a lot of up and downs [with my recovery]. I was due to come back in pre-season but I had a setback with some swelling.
“It’s been going on and off - sometimes it’s good and sometimes it’s bad. But you just have to keep working hard to get back and that’s what I’ve done so far.
“I was very tired early doors in the game but it felt good to be back out there being a part of the team - it was a good result as well.
“I want to get fit and play as many reserve games as I can. I want to get up to 90 minutes and we’ll go from there.”
Speaking of his late equaliser, he added: “I could see that CJ [Hamilton] was going to beat his man. Running down the line I know he is going to outpace anyone he comes up against.
“I just made sure I was in the box, tried to pull off and then the ball fell to me.”
Academy manager Richard Cooper expressed his delight at Graham marking his return to action with a goal.
“I’m pleased for Jordan Graham because that was his first game in a number of months,” he said. “I thought he played well for the 30 minutes he was on the pitch.
“He was in the right place at the right time [for his goal]. He’ll link play and he can score goals from anywhere.
“It was a great ball by CJ [Hamilton] and Jordan’s there to tap it in.”
iFollow Stags subscribers can watch Jordan Graham’s and Richard Cooper’s interviews in full by logging into mansfieldtown.net/ifollow later today.
Report: Walsall 1-1 Mansfield
Walsall were held to a 1-1 draw in their first Central League fixture of the season at home to Mansfield.
James Hardy opened the scoring in the first half but substitute Jordan Graham levelled with three minutes to go as the honours were shared.
A number of first team players were involved.
Cameron Pring featured after over a month out with injury while Hardy, Alfie Bates, Callum Cockerill-Mollett, Cameron Norman and Kory Roberts, who got 90 minutes, all featured.
The first half an hour was quiet and neither side created any clear-cut chances.
Walsall took the lead after 31 minutes when Hardy’s shot found the top corner from the edge of the box and the Saddlers took their lead into the half time break.
The second half proved to be another tight affair.
Mansfield had a couple of chances. Willem Tomlinson fired a free-kick over the bar while Jimmy Knowles headed over from close range.
The Stags looked the more likely and they equalised in the 87th minute when CJ Hamilton burst down the right and cut it back to Graham who converted from the edge of the six-yard box and the Saddlers had to settle for a draw.
Line-up: Rose (GK), Norman (Little), Roberts, Cockerill-Mollett, Pring (Johnson); Bates, Willis (Moss), Campbell, Hardy (Foulkes), Mukadam; Allamby-John (Pearce).
Subs not used: Rogerson (GK)
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