A strong second half display from Stags’ reserves saw them record a 4-2 victory over Doncaster Rovers’ reserves in the Central League Cup at the RH Academy this afternoon.
Mansfield went into the break a goal down, yet scored on three occasions in the second period to record a deserved win.
Forward Jimmy Knowles was on target in the first half for the Stags, with his goal being followed up by a strike from Tom Fielding and a Tyrese Sinclair brace in the second half.
Stags named a mixed lineup for the match, which included a start for Omari Sterling-James, along with under-18 regulars Jordan Armsden, Kian Sketchley, Riley O’Sullivan and Jimmy Knowles.
Mansfield started as the better of the two sides, with Sterling-James nearly catching out goalkeeper Declan Ogley with a looping volley.
Despite the strong start, Stags found themselves behind on minute seven. Anthony Greaves found space just outside the area, and his low drive found the far corner of Sam Wilson’s net.
There was nearly an instant response by the home side, as Sterling-James saw his delivery from a free-kick flash just wide of the far post.
Stags continued their pursuit of an equaliser, and were somehow kept at bay by Ogley, who made a fine string of saves to deny defender Aiden Walker.
Rovers carved out the next opportunity of the contest through Morgan James, yet he was denied by a smart save from Wilson.
Fielding was then played through on goal after a surging run by Sterling-James, yet the former saw his powerful effort well-saved by Ogley.
Ogley had little chance to keep out the next effort, however, as Knowles’ strike deflected past the Rovers’ goalkeeper for Stags’ equalising goal.
Sterling-James went close by attempting to catch the ‘keeper off guard by shooting from a wide free-kick, seeing his strike clip the top of the crossbar.
Rovers had a free-kick of their own soon after, with Jacob Fletcher stepping up and curling a precise effort into the top corner to restore the visitors’ lead heading into half-time.
Soon after the break, the Stags were level once more. After coming to clear his lines, the Doncaster goalkeeper did not get the required connection, leading to Fielding fire into a vacant net from outside the area.
Sterling-James almost produced a spectacular finish after scooping the ball over Ogley, yet his acrobatic effort went wide.
The Stags then made their first change of the afternoon, when O’Sullivan made way for Sinclair.
Sterling-James was at the heart of the action once more as his ball set Knowles through on goal, yet the striker saw his powerful drive towards the target cleared off the line.
Keaton Ward played through Fielding who attempted to double his tally for the afternoon, whose fierce strike was saved at Ogley’s near post.
Mansfield made another switch, with James Tague replacing Knowles.
The visitors, who produced few chances in the second half, went close to regaining the lead through James Morris, who saw his effort tipped onto the post by Wilson after a late run into the area. It was an outstanding save by the Stags’ goalkeeper, and one that proved to be vital just two minutes later.
Sinclair took the ball around Ogley, and was brought down by a clumsy challenge from a Rovers’ defender, giving referee Jacob Lehane little option but to point to the spot.
Sinclair, who has been superb from dead ball situations this season, stepped up and rifled his spot kick into the far corner to give Mansfield their first lead of the afternoon.
Soon after, the forward doubled his tally. The ball fell to Sinclair inside the box after a goalmouth scramble, and he calmly placed the ball into the net to put the game beyond any doubt.
The 4-2 scoreline secured Stags’ second win in three games in the Central League Cup this season, moving them above today’s opponents in the North Central table.
STAGS’ XI: Wilson, Blake, Sketchley, Bircumshaw, Armsden, Walker, Fielding, Ward, Knowles (Tague 72’), Sterling-James, O’Sullivan (Sinclair 56’).
UNUSED SUBS: Squires, Ingram, Cornell.
DONCASTER XI: Ogley, Walker, Smith, Fletcher, Rowe, Foulkes, James, Greaves, Morris, Boocock (Watson 84’), Gibbons (Barnett 64’).
UNUSED SUBS: Baldock-Smith, Husani, McGowen.