Loughborough Men’s 2nd football team took on Mansfield under-19s on Wednesday in a development game. Dan Archer watched the students lose a goal advantage to lose 2-1.
This match was open and exciting right from the off. The first chance of note fell to Mansfield. A determined 40-yard run from the right back led to a free kick just outside the box, only for the resulting shot to sail harmlessly wide.
The first shot on target in the game led to the opening goal after 21 minutes. Loughborough broke with pace from the back and some quick passing led to the right winger having a one-on-one with the Mansfield keeper. He showed great composure to confidently slot the ball home.
The goal appeared to spark Mansfield into life and it only took nine minutes to find an equaliser. They pressed Loughborough high up the pitch and managed to steal possession back in a dangerous position. A cross was whipped in, met at the near post and tucked away into the corner; although the Loughborough keeper would have been disappointed not to keep it out.
The rest of the half was very even and played out without many opportunities and the half-time whistle went with the score tied at 1-1.
Loughborough started the second half brightly with a 25-yard strike flying just over the bar with the keeper beaten.
However, with 53 minutes gone, Mansfield took the lead for the first – and what proved to be decisive – time. Smart play from the central midfielder resulted in him winning the ball back in the centre of the park. He then looked forward and played a lovely, defence-splitting pass. This allowed the striker to take the ball in his stride, round the goalkeeper and tap in to give Mansfield a 2-1 lead.
The goal knocked the stuffing out of Loughborough and with Mansfield opting to close the game out, very few chances were created for either side for the rest of the game and the intensity levels noticeably dropped.
With time running out, Loughborough did manage to carve out one final chance. In the 89th minute the left winger burst down the line and fired in an inviting cross, with the striker only inches away from getting on the end of the cross and converting.
The full-time whistle blew moments later with the score at 2-1. Despite the defeat Loughborough should take heart from their battling performance against a good, well drilled side.