Stags' youth team exited the FA Youth Cup at the third round stage after losing 5-1 at home to Barclays Under 18 Premier League side Sunderland this evening.
Stags were the underdogs going into the encounter against their North-East counterparts and it was the Black Cats who had the better of the opening play.
It was the visitors who took the lead on the 30-minute mark through Luke Molyneux when he cut in from the right-hand side and curled a left-footed shot into the top corner of Sam Wilson’s net.
Their lead lasted just one minute as Devante Reittie’s tremendous strike from distance levelled the tie, but three goals from the imperious Joel Asoro and a 25-yard piledriver from Daniel Pybus ensured it would be the Black Cats who would be facing Norwich in the fourth round.
Sunderland forward Asoro registered the game’s first chance after finding a yard of space to get his shot away, but his curling effort whipped just past Stags ‘keeper Sam Wilson’s top-right hand corner.
Having missed the second round victory over Dereham through injury, Reittie was the first Stag to try his luck after picking up the ball 25 yards from goal before unleashing a powerful strike that went just wide of the post.
Like a pendulum, the game swung once again towards the visitors; this time it was captain Pybus who produced some nimble footwork inside the box to allow for the shot – but his floated effort was comfortably held by Wilson.
Again the Stags hit back through Cameron Healey’s pinpoint cross to the back-post which midfielder Cain Smith was busting a gut to get to, but couldn’t make a strong enough connection after stretching out a leg.
On the half-hour mark, the Barclays Under 18 Premier League visitors broke the deadlock through wide-man Luke Molyneux. The youngster shrugged off his defender before bending a perfectly weighted strike to right-hand corner with Wilson helpless to keep it out.
Their lead however lasted just 60 seconds as Mansfield drew level through a sensational strike by Reittie. After cutely rolling the ball past his defender, the front-man let fly with a speculative long-range effort that hung in the air before looping past Black Cats’ ‘keeper Greg Purvis.
However Mansfield couldn’t keep the game on equal terms for too long as Elliott Dickman’s men retained the lead just before the half-time whistle. Courtesy of pacey winger Asoro, he took the ball with his back to goal and sublimely turned his defender before bearing down on goal before he coolly slotted the ball past Wilson.
Asoro had proven to be a major thorn in the Stags’ side, and three minutes after the interval he netted his second of the evening. The ball was smartly threaded through the back-line for Asoro who beat the offside trap to calmly knock the ball past Wilson to make it 3-1.
Sunderland were really taking the game by the scruff of the neck, with Mansfield having goalkeeper Wilson to thank after he pulled off a terrific fingertip save to deny Andrew Nelson’s powerful drive.
Stags did have a chance with just over 15 minutes remaining through Zayn Hakeem after great work by Louis Danquah on the left. The full-back fed Danquah who opened up his body to strike, but unfortunately dragged it wide of the mark.
The miss proved costly as the Wearside club struck back in deadly fashion down the other end of the pitch. Captain Pybus got his name on the scoresheet after he produced a wonderful strike from distance which rocketed into the top corner of Sam Wilson’s net.
With just minutes remaining, Asoro rounded off a spectacular solo performance by tucking home his hat-trick to round off a 5-1 win for the North East side as Stags’ FA Youth Cup journey came to an end at the third round stage.
Mansfield Town: Wilson, Bloor, Danquah, Marriott, Ratcliffe, Harrison, C. Smith (Gibson, 81), Healey (Shaw, 81), Blake ©, Reittie (Baldwin, 64), Hakeem.
Substitutes not used: Hampson, A. Smith.
Sunderland: Purvis, Robson (Gamble, 84), Hume, Wright, Taylor, Casey, Molyneux, Pybus © (Bale, 81), Nelson (Yves Poame, 82), Embleton, Asoro.
Substitutes not used: Woud, Storey.