YORK City’s Under-18s fought out an entertaining 1-1 draw with Youth Alliance League table-toppers Mansfield Town at Wigginton Road on Wednesday afternoon.
The Young Minstermen took the lead in the first half after Josh Rogerson’s header rebounded off the post, and turned in by a Mansfield defender, before Stags substitute Nyle Blake equalised in the second half as the teams shared the spoils.
This result leaves Steve Torpey’s side fourth in the Youth Alliance League North East Division, and denied the visitors a second consecutive title with the points divided on the day. Mansfield are still eight points clear at the top, though, and will be aiming to wrap up the league title in their next match against Burton Albion on Saturaday.
Mansfield showed their quality early on, starting on the front foot as they spurned a couple of early chances to take the lead. First through a corner, with Kieran Harrison heading a yard wide of the post, before a cross was floated across goal and Keaton Ward rose highest, heading against the bar.
The Young Minstermen responded to the early pressure, and should have been one up after Sam Fielding burst into the area, having a shot blocked that fell to Aaron Haswell, whose follow-up was well blocked on the line and taken out for a corner.
Some neat passing play between strike pairing Flynn McNaughton and Alex Bruton created another chance, with McNaughton driving across goal but the ball just avoiding the advancing City attack at the far post.
The breakthrough for Torpey’s side came after 35 minutes, with a Fielding free-kick from wide left finding Rogerson at the back post, who headed against the post and the ball ricocheted off a body in the box and trickled into the bottom corner to give City the lead.
City’s Youth Team started the second half as they finished the first, dominating possession and keeping the league leaders’ chances to a minimum. Mansfield showed their mettle, though, making a double substitution at half-time and changing shape to force an equaliser.
Despite the Young Minstermen having the upper hand, the Stags equalised after a swift counter-attack broke down the left hand side, before the ball was squared across goal for substitute Blake to tap in from close range.
The leveller seemed harsh on City, who had the better of the second half up to that point. The Stags then piled on the pressure in search of a winner to give them the Youth Alliance League title, with Torpey’s side having goalkeeper Ryan Whitley to thank for keeping the scores level.
Stags’ attacker Zayn Hakeem was through one-on-one with the City stopper, who narrowed the angle well and parried the ball around the post after diving low to his right. Despite this, however, the game played out in an honourable draw between both sides, with the final game for the Youth Team coming on Saturday against Doncaster Rovers.
York City U18: Whitley, Fielding, Jackson, Kemp, Rogerson, Brettell (c), Thompson (Overton, 70’), Walton (Berry, 10’), McNaughton, Bruton, Haswell.
Unused: Wilton, Hartley
Mansfield Town U18: Wilson, Bloor, Wilder, Ward, Baldwin, Harrison, Law (Ratcliffe, 46’), Healey, Reittie (Blake, 46’), Smith, Hakeem.
Unused: Sundby, Morgan, Dumbleton.