A professional performance away in Northamptonshire saw Mansfield’s under-18s progress to the second round of the FA Youth Cup after running out 3-0 winners in a fiery contest against Bugbrooke St. Michaels.
The Stags were on top from the off, and striker Jack Deakin put Mansfield ahead early in the second half.
A red card for midfielder Jonty Bouch in the 73rd minute gave the Badgers hope of an equaliser, but Mansfield’s young guns stood strong in the face of adversity before a goal from Ethan Hill and a wonderful solo effort from Diego Edwards sealed the victory.
The home crowd whipped up a hostile atmosphere at The Sett, Bugbrooke’s home ground, and a full-blooded first ten minutes saw attacker Shamar Lawson pick up a yellow card as both teams looked to impose themselves on the match.
As the game settled, it was Mansfield that quickly took control, with the Stags enjoying the lion’s share of possession as they looked to break down the Northamptonshire Senior Youth League side’s defence.
Forward Nathan Caine caused problems all night long and was heavily involved in the early stages, with the striker first seeing his goal-bound effort blocked in the 13th minute before just over-hitting a cross with Deakin lurking at the far post.
A rare foray forward for Bugbrooke in the 20th minute saw a dangerous cross from the right-hand side fizz across the Stags’ six yard box, but right-back Taylor Anderson did enough to hook the ball past his front post and out for a corner.
More good play from the Stags saw Caine, Deakin and Lawson combine well in the final third, and this time it was Lawson who set away Deakin down the right. The striker’s dangerous driven cross was cut out, but the loose ball fell to left-back Cody Collins whose looping cross almost caught out Bugbrooke ‘keeper James Ward.
Caine was involved again in the 34th minute, collecting the ball on the left-hand side and dancing past three defenders, only to see his strike from the edge of area blocked once again.
Fellow striker Deakin went closest to breaking the deadlock in the 36th minute, but his effort from distance went narrowly wide after he was set away down the right.
The teams went in level at the interval, with some excellent last-ditch defending from the pumped-up home side keeping the Stags at bay.
And after just three minutes of the second-half, the Stags had to contend with another break in play as floodlight failure saw the pitch plunged into darkness.
But the pause did nothing to dampen Mansfield’s youngsters’ appetite and they turned on the style as the light returned ten minutes later.
First Caine shot just wide of the far post after a good turn in the box, before a moment of inspiration from Collins created the opening goal.
The left-back picked the ball up inside his own half before a marauding run down the left took him past two defenders and opened up a crossing opportunity.
The defender fizzed in a low cross and Deakin was there to meet it, thundering home from close-range past the helpless Ward to make it 1-0.
But Ward was on hand to deny the Stags in the 65th minute as they almost made it 2-0.
A surging run from Colt Reynolds saw the attacker get in behind the Bugbrooke defence, but the goalkeeper palmed away the substitute’s effort as he tried to squeeze the ball home from a narrow angle. The rebound fell to Lawson, but he was unable to hit the target from close-range.
Tensions heightened as the game progressed with the home side desperate to get back into the game, and central midfielder Bouch went in the referee’s book in the 70th minute after halting a Bugbrooke counter-attack.
And two minutes later Stags ‘keeper Maison Campbell was called into action to deny the opposition their best chance of an equaliser.
The Badgers won a free-kick 25 yards from goal, and Bugbrooke winger Jake Webster stepped up and unleashed a dipping effort that was destined for the top corner - only for the fingertips of Campbell to push the ball onto the crossbar to keep the Stags ahead.
Just a minute later and Mansfield were down to ten men as a second yellow for Bouch saw the midfielder dismissed with fifteen minutes remaining.
Bugbrooke were revitalised after the sending off and pumped the ball into the box in search of an equaliser, but Mansfield’s defence stood strong against the Badgers’ aerial onslaught.
And with 85 minutes on the clock, progress to the second round was all but confirmed for Mansfield.
The Stags won a free-kick in the Bugbrooke half, and Hill’s delivery was cleared only as far as the edge of the area.
The midfielder charged onto the loose ball and lashed the ball under the goalkeeper to double the Stags’ lead.
And five minutes later substitute Diego Edwards was on hand to provide a moment of magic to put the result beyond doubt.
The substitute chested down a long punt forward on the edge of the area before flicking the ball over the head of his defender and lashing the bouncing ball into the roof of the net, as the Stags’ ended the game on a high.
STAGS XI: Campbell (GK), Anderson, Collins, Hill-Smith, Cooper, Hill, Hurdis (Reynolds 51’), Bouch, Deakin (Edwards 77’), Caine, Lawson
UNUSED SUBS: Mason (GK), Pitts, Davies, Abdullah