Mansfield Town under-19s returned to winning ways on Tuesday afternoon when they emerged as 3-1 winners against Hartlepool United at Blackhall Welfare Park.
Forward McKeal Abdullah missed the trip to the north east due to injury which provided under-16s’ frontman Daniel Organ with a start in the lineup.
Stags also utilised all of their substitutes, including goalkeeper Theo Avery who replaced fellow shot-stopper Louie Turner on 73 minutes.
First-half strikes from attack-minded midfielder Jakub Kruszynski and creative midfielder Bailey Hamilton as well as a second-half rocket into the bottom corner by versatile attacker Ronnie Kokkinos secured all three points for the amber and blue.
Sam Collins’ side had their first opportunity of the game inside the opening minute as defensive midfielder Charlie Carter took aim at goal but his effort sailed over Cameron Simpson’s crossbar.
The next big chance fell to the hosts’ midfielder Joe Kitching who found himself free in the Mansfield area before firing his shot against Turner’s bar.
Kitching provided the next threat as Hartlepool looked to catch the Stags on the counter and after receiving the ball inside the box his effort was blazed over.
Following Hartlepool’s chances on goal, Mansfield began to grow into the game and came close to breaking the deadlock on 23 minutes when Carter managed to slot a pass through the defence to Organ but the ball was ultimately collected by ‘keeper Simpson.
The amber and blue were rewarded for their hard work and endeavour on 26 minutes when they opened the scoring. Kruszynski latched onto the end of an expertly placed through ball by Kokkinos and the attack-minded midfielder showed outstanding composure to find the net via the post.
Mansfield right-back and captain Taylor Anderson began a move which almost ended in his side doubling the lead on 38 minutes. The defender drove forward and managed to pick out Kruszynski who looked up and cut the ball back to the edge of the area for box-to-box midfielder Finn Flanagan but his effort flew wide of Hartlepool’s goal.
Following that chance, the hosts were level against the run of play when attacker Alfie Steele turned on the edge of the box and fired into the bottom corner to restore parity for his side.
After conceding the equaliser, Mansfield looked determined to regain the advantage prior to the break and did so on 44 minutes.
A powerful run down the right from forward Daniel Organ concluded with the under-16s’ man firing a venomous ball into the Hartlepool box and Hamilton was on hand at the back post to steer home Stags’ second of the afternoon.
Mansfield came firing out the blocks and had their first chance in the second-half within the opening minutes when Kruszynski cut the ball back for the arriving Kokkinos whose effort floated over.
In the following few minutes Kruszynski couldn’t find the back of the net on two separate occasions. His first effort was collected by Simpson in the Hartlepool goal and of seconds later he found himself free in the box once again but his shot rattled against the post.
Despite the scoreline only being 2-1, Mansfield were producing a dominant second-half display which left them in a comfortable enough position to make their first two alterations on 63 minutes. Anderson and left-back Darien Wauchope were replaced by under-16s’ full-back Elliot Hartmann and Louis Bonser, respectively.
And on 70 minutes Sam Collins made another double change which saw Noah Aynsley-Johnson - who replaced Alfie King on the bench following an injury in the warm-up - and defensive-minded midfielder Lewis Warnaby be introduced for Jakub Kruszynski and Charlie Carter.
Despite few ensuing opportunities, Mansfield controlled proceedings as they made Hartlepool work hard to regain possession.
Sam Collins made his final switch on 73 minutes which meant that every named substitute played a part in the contest. Goalkeeper Theo Avery replaced Louie Turner in between the sticks for the remaining 17 minutes of the contest.
And only three minutes after their final change, the amber and blue had a third goal to shout about courtesy of Kokkinos. After picking up the ball on the edge of the box the agile attacker spun his man and hit a powerful effort on goal which arrowed into the bottom corner to put the game out of sight for the hosts and secure all three points for the Stags.
HARTLEPOOL UNITED: Simpson, Stephenson, Lynn, Robinson (Burns 85), Rowe, Burrows, White, Kitching (Crawford 70), Steele, Storey, Evan
UNUSED SUB: Wilkinson
MANSFIELD TOWN: Turner (Avery 73), Anderson (Hartmann 63), Whyle, Maher, Wauchope (Bonser 63), Carter (Warnaby 70), Flanagan, Hamilton, Kokkinos, Kruszynski (Aynsley-Johnson 70), Organ
UNUSED SUBS: N/A