Youngsters step up before season stops
MANGOTSFIELD United’s new-look young side continued to gain experience with each game, albeit without picking up any points, until recent results became irrelevant following the decision to suspend football at all levels.
Late February defeats at Cinderford (1-3) and Bideford (0-3) were not unexpected, but the Mango kids were not disgraced in either of them and it was only their lack of experience against more seasoned opponents that led to defeat in both games. The real test, however, came in the home game against promotion-chasing Thatcham Town on March 7. It was the Mangos’ first at Cossham Street since the Evesham United game on February 1 which saw the resignation of then-manager Ollie Price and the departure of most of the first team squad.
It was a strange atmosphere before the Thatcham game. Home supporters watching the Mango youngsters go through their warm-up routine struggled to put names to faces, as they looked at their programmes and team sheets. It was just the same as the teams emerged from the dressing room just before the kick-off (see picture). As a Mangotsfield fan for over 30 years, it was perhaps the only occasion where I failed to recognise a single home player!
As for the game, the Mangos began brightly, creating two scoring chances in the first 6 minutes through Josiah Dunstan and Daniel McBeam. They matched their more experienced opponents for 25 minutes, before being hit by some clinical finishing as Thatcham notched three goals in just 5 minutes. The youngsters battled well for the rest of the game, even though the situation was worsened following an own goal by Steve Kaca on 58 minutes. Mangos keeper Jakob Glover made several good saves, including a double save near the end of the match, but the visitors’ 4-0 win made them new league leaders on the day.
The following Tuesday’s home game against Cirencester Town fell victim to the wet weather and then, the day before the team were due to make a trip to mid-table Highworth Town, it was announced that the Premier League & English Football League were being suspended immediately. The Southern League also announced an immediate suspension of all matches, up to and including March 21, which also put paid to the Mangos’ home game versus Bristol Manor Farm.
However, with the coronavirus situation worsening all the time, it is anticipated that the suspension deadline dates for all levels of the game are almost certain to be extended. Who knows when – or if – the Mangos will play their next match? This suspension could go on for months. Watch this space!