Mansfield Town reserves were beaten 2-0 by Wigan Athletic reserves in Tuesday afternoon’s Central League clash at Alfreton Town’s Impact Arena.
The Stags displayed a positive performance in the match, especially in the first-half, but goals from Charlie Jolley and Joshua Martin in the second period gave the high-flying Latics all three points.
Mansfield named a youthful lineup for the clash, with the side consisting entirely of under-18 and under-21 players.
Despite having the better of the exchanges in the opening stages, it was the visiting side that had the first big chance of the game.
A ball was floated in towards Jolley, who glanced his header onto Sam Wilson’s near post from 12 yards.
Mansfield overcame the early scare, as Jason Law forced a save from Latics’ goalkeeper Owen Evans with his curling effort from 20 yards.
Jolley created a chance for himself at the other end, but saw his low drive held by Wilson after cutting in from the left-hand side.
Tom Fielding flashed a volley beyond the post after the ball sat up for the midfielder nicely, to kick-start a series of first-half chances for the amber and blue.
Keaton Ward delivered a tempting cross towards Jamie Chisholm at the back post, but the free-kick narrowly evaded the head of the outstretched young defender.
Mansfield then went close with a long range effort from Alistair Smith.
Fielding found Zayn Hakeem on the break, with the striker then laying the ball off to Smith, who fired narrowly over the bar from distance.
The Stags once again surged upfield on the counter-attack, with Ward firing just wide following Fielding’s clever pass, which he managed to poke between two Wigan defenders.
The visitors held firm throughout a period of pressure from Mansfield, and created a couple of chances towards the close of the first-half.
Firstly, Wilson got down well to keep out an effort from Tyler Golden, before Will McGuffie nodded a header wide of the mark from a matter of six-yards.
After the restart, Wigan almost took the lead in fortunate fashion.
A looping cross evaded Wilson and bounced down from the crossbar, before Henri Wilder managed to scoop the ball from the goalmouth to ensure the scores remained level.
Stags launched a counter from what was a superb moment of defensive action from the centre-back, and had strong claims for a free-kick waved away, after Evans seemingly handled the ball outside of his 18-yard area.
Just past the hour mark, Wigan took the lead.
Jolley managed to work a half-yard of space, before seeing his effort deflect over Wilson and nestle in the far corner.
Mansfield looked to instantly respond following a slice of luck for the Latics.
Fielding picked out Ward, who shifted possession out of his feet before forcing a routine save from Evans.
Fielding was the next Stags’ player to fire at goal, but saw his strike held by the Wigan shot-stopper.
There was some good play by Wigan’s Golden, as he drove into the Mansfield area and flashed an effort just wide of the mark.
Following a quiet period in the match, the Latics doubled their lead from a set piece.
Golden’s delivery from a wide free-kick was met by Martin at the front post, who produced enough power on his header to beat Wilson.
From thereon in, Wigan saw out the game, recording their second win over the Stags this season.
Up next for Mansfield’s second string is another stern test, as they face high-flyers Port Vale on Tuesday 26 March (1pm). A venue for this fixture is yet to be confirmed.
STAGS’ XI: Wilson, Walker, Chisholm, Gibbens, Law, Wilder (Knowles 68’), Smith, Bircumshaw, Ward, Fielding, Hakeem.
UNUSED SUBS: Philips, Sinclair, O’Sullivan, Tague.
WIGAN XI: Evans, Golden, Robinson (Berry 81’), Obi, Martin, McGuffie, Crankshaw (Culshaw 88’), Perry, Jolley (Finch 81’), Burgess (Maffeo 79’), Merrie.
UNUSED SUBS: Long.