The latest from our National League U19 Alliance team…
By Matty Paddock - 14/04/2019
Posted 6 days ago
Harriers saw their National League U19 Alliance title hopes come to an end after a heartbreaking, late defeat to Mansfield Town, writes Elliot Ball.
Going into the game against the Stags, Harriers sat in second, with the visitors in sixth but with three games in hand on the Reds. The hosts knew that anything less than three points would see Harriers’ title hopes over.
Harriers started well; in the sixth minute, Taylor-Randle was unlucky to see his shot flash inches wide after a first-time effort from the edge of the area.
As the first half wore on, Mansfield began to settle into the game, and home goalkeeper, Ewan Mountjoy, was called upon to perform heroics to deny Town after a dangerous header looked set to break the deadlock.
“We’re all disappointed but, on the whole, it’s been a good season…” Ryan Simmonds
The first half was close, but the second period proved to be even closer, with both sides being starved of chances. Harriers were able to create the best of what was available. Great play from Taylor-Randle saw his shot deflect to White, who unselfishly crossed to Cartwright who unluckily miss-queued a header.
It looked as if both sides were to come away with a frustrating draw, but late drama saw Mansfield stage a devastating counter-attack, capped with a driving, bending finish from distance fly past a helpless Mountjoy, who had no chance.
With five minutes to go, Harriers threw everything at Mansfield in the hope of getting a goal back, but the Stags countered once more – netting after breaking in numbers to seal the win.
A reflective Harriers coach, Ryan Simmonds, reacted by saying: “We’re all disappointed but, on the whole, it’s been a good season in terms of getting the boys in the first team and being around the first team.
“We have to try and look at the positives, but we’re disappointed. We feel there’s been a chance missed and I personally feel we should have won the league.”
Harry Stratford echoed that sentiment, adding: “When it came down to it, we weren’t good enough in the big games, but we’ve got to look back at it as a good season.
“We all know we’re good players, but we’ve got to look back on this experience as a team and as individuals to make sure that we improve.”
Harriers would go on to bounce back from this defeat with another game just days later, Harvey Cartwright and Dennis Digie netting in a 2-0 win over Stourbridge.