Our second-string progressed to the Final Third Development League Cup Final after a magnificent 3-2 win over Leicester City at the King Power Stadium tonight.
The Stags were given a stern test by the determined Foxes, who fought back from 2-0 down to level, but were eventually beaten courtesy of Jake Speight’s predatory strike in the closing stages.
As a result of tonight’s victory, our reserves will now meet the winners of the other Semi-Final clash between Wigan Athletic and Hartlepool United.
On a windy night in Leicestershire, Mansfield began brightly and took an eighth-minute lead when an unmarked Chris Clements picked up a loose ball inside the Foxes’ area, and nonchalantly lifted the ball over Adam Smith.
Daniel replaced Ben Hutchinson on the quarter-hour mark, and soon made it 2-0, when he linked up brilliantly with Louis Briscoe on the left channel, before coolly slotting past Smith once released by his team-mate.
Leicester showed plenty of endeavour throughout the match and quickly pulled a goal back through Marcel Barrington, whose 20-yard effort caught a wild deflection which was enough to wrong-foot Ian Deakin.
George Taft could have drawn the Foxes level on 25 minutes, when he flashed a shot horribly wide of the target from the edge of the six-yard box, following Jacob Blyth’s clever flick from Callum Elder’s cross.
Michael Cain also went close with a low free-kick shortly afterwards, before Blyth tested Deakin when his audacious 25-yard effort was straight at the Stags’ custodian.
Leicester continued to create chances after the re-start, but Mansfield almost restored their two-goal cushion when Speight’s superb pull-back agonisingly evaded the reach of an unmarked Lindon Meikle, who had the goal at his mercy.
The Foxes made their opponents pay just after the hour mark when Harry Panayiotou showed a superb piece of skill to turn his marker, before venomously firing the ball past a full-stretch Deakin from a few yards out.
However, there was to be a late twist in the tale as Mansfield pounced in a rare attack with just a quarter-of-an-hour remaining, to book their place in the Final.
Meikle’s low pass reached Speight inside the area courtesy of a fortuitous deflection, and the striker made no mistake as he calmly planted the ball in the bottom-left corner, giving the ‘keeper absolutely no chance.
Team: Deakin, Tumwa, Beevers, McKenzie, Meikle, Clements, Briscoe (Speight), Dyer, Sutton (Hodgett-Young), J.Thomas, Hutchinson (Daniel).