Stags through to Round Three after blistering showing against the Cobblers.Mansfield Town 3 (Fletcher 5, 15, 25)
Northampton Town 0
A superb first-half hat-trick from marksman Dan Fletcher sent the Stags into the third round of the FA Youth Cup, in what was a convincing 3-0 win against Northampton Town at the One Call Stadium last night.
Mansfield had to battle their way through extra-time and a penalty shoot-out in the previous round against Boston United, but there was to be no repeat of those dramatics this time around, with Fletcher's clinical finishing wrapping-up the tie after just twenty-five minutes of play.
John Ramshaw had clearly done his homework on his Football League Youth Alliance South East-based opponents and this certainly paid-off for the Academy Manager, despite the Cobblers having seven more league games under their belts than the Stags, as well as currently sitting comfortably in mid-table, in their respective division.
Despite Mansfield's dominance of the fixture, it was the visitors who nearly opened the scoring with just two minutes played, when Ryan Cooke's shot was well saved, down-low by 15-year-old keeper Sam Wilson, who guided the ball past his right-hand post.
Three minutes later, the Stags took the lead from their first real attack, when Fletcher finished off a well-worked move with a cool and composed finish, latching on to a cross from the right-hand side.
Fletcher then made it 2-0 after ten minutes and once again, the promising seventeen year-old showed great skill and composure to round a Cobblers defender before slotting the ball in the bottom left-hand corner of Northampton goalie Brendan Brown's net.
The centre forward then completed his hat-trick on twenty-five minutes, when a free kick from the right-hand side, was flicked back into the danger area and Fletcher found himself unmarked on the edge of the six-yard box, to easily nod home.
A shell-shocked Northampton side then went about trying to pull a goal back before half-time, to give themselves some hope of retrieving the tie but Ramshaw had his troops well-drilled and the visitors struggled to create any chances of note, as the well-organised Stags kept their shape and looked calm and comfortable in possession.
An uneventful second half then followed, with the visitors once again, struggling to make any trouble for Wilson and the robust Mansfield defence.
For all their hard-work and determination, the Stags also failed to create any real goalscoring chances but having done the hard work early in the game, they were happy to let the clock tick down and soak-up any pressure that the Cobblers could throw at them.
At no stage did Northampton really look like they were going to get back into the game and as the final whistle sounded, John Ramshaw's men celebrated extending their unbeaten run to four games in league and cup, with top-scorer Fletcher, now into double figures for the season.
The Stags now progress to the next round of this prestigious competition, where they will host Football League Youth Alliance North West side Tranmere Rovers, with the tie due to be played on or before Saturday 20 December.
Team: Wilson, Slone, Green, Brownlie, Hempshall, Shires, Dwyer, Spencer (c), Fletcher (Roome), Fitzpatrick, Blake (Harrison).