Mansfield Town under-18s produced a dominant home display on Saturday as they recorded a 4-0 victory over Notts County under-18s at The RH Academy.
Jimmy Knowles made it five goals for the season with a goal either side of half-time after Jamie Chisholm had headed the Stags in front.
Substitute Nathan Caine made it four for the Stags deep into injury-time, as the amber and blue emphatically reclaimed the Matt Salmon Trophy, in memory of the former physiotherapist who sadly passed away in 2017.
The Stags raced out of the traps and found themselves two goals up inside the first 15 minutes.
On six minutes, Larell King set the tone for the contest as he pressed high and won the ball back from Mazhi Simmons.
King found Ethan Hill, who powered through the centre and slipped in Joshua Scott inside the box. The striker took a touch and fired low, but his shot was palmed away for a corner by Tiernan Brooks in the County goal.
The Stags took the lead from the resulting corner. Shamar Lawson floated the ball into the box and defender Chisholm rose highest to power his header past Brooks.
Mansfield doubled their lead moments later. Once more, Notts County struggled to deal with a corner as Chisholm headed goalwards again. This time, Brooks managed to claw the ball away, but only as far as Knowles who smashed it in from close range.
The visitors responded well but struggled to create chances against a resolute Stags’ defence. The best opportunity came on 29 minutes.
Leo Marshall cut inside from the right and whipped in an inviting cross, but it was too high for Charlie Wilde as it fizzed over his head.
The Stags were dominant and should have added to their lead before the half-time whistle. On 38 minutes, Knowles took down a Rio Molyneaux cross wonderfully, but saw his shot well blocked by Taylor Conway.
On the stroke of half-time, Hill supplied Knowles again with a lovely through ball. Knowles danced past Stern Irvine and charged in on goal but could only fire wide.
The second-half followed a similar pattern to the first as the amber and blue stamped their authority immediately.
On 56 minutes, the home side put the game beyond their opponents. Knowles played a neat one-two with Lawson on the left before cutting inside and firing a low shot past Brooks for his second and Mansfield’s third.
Only some last-ditch defending denied the Stags from extending their lead further. On the hour, Scott did brilliantly to shake off Rasharn Altaf.
The striker then crossed low for Hill who looked destined to score from the six-yard box, but he was denied by a great recovering block by Irvine.
Altaf was having a torrid time against Scott, who shook him off once again to tee up Knowles. The striker unleashed a ferocious drive from the edge of the box which again was well-blocked.
The visitors showed glimpses of quality and their biggest threat came from Kieran Cummings on the right.
Good play from the winger should have been rewarded with a consolation goal for his team on 73 minutes. Cummings did well to roll the challenge of Kian Sketchley and dart down the line. He then sent in an inviting cross which fizzed past everyone before Marhsall fired over from close range.
The Stags then rubbed salt into their rivals’ wounds deep into second half injury time as substitute Nathan Caine opened his account for the season.
With time ticking away, Knowles continued to torment the Notts County defence as he drilled a low cross across the six-yard box. Stood waiting for his late present was Caine who tapped the ball into an empty net to add the gloss to a resounding display.
It was a perfect ending to a perfect performance for the hosts, who won for the second game in succession.
The Stags have now closed the gap on Youth Alliance Northeast Division leaders Doncaster Rovers to two points, ahead of their trip to face Rovers in the Youth Alliance Cup next Saturday.
STAGS XI: Campbell, King, Sketchley, Tomlin, Saunders, Chisholm, Molyneaux, Hill, Scott (Ingram 82’), Knowles, Lawson (Caine 68’).
UNUSED SUBS: Phillips, Cooper, Fisher.
NOTTS COUNTY XI: Brookes, Simmons, Conway, Bucalossi, Irvine, Altaf, Cummings, Wilde, Smith, Mulvany, Marshall.
SUBS: McKenna, Harrison, Sneddon, Stanrow, Palmer.