Youngsters eliminated by Premier League opposition in Last 32.
2014/15 FA Youth Cup - 4th Round
Monday 19 January 2015
Mansfield Town 0
Stoke City 3 (N'Goy 45, Renee-Pringle 65, Koczalski (og) 80)
A battling young Stags side were unable to make it to the last 16 of the FA Youth Cup, after a gusty fourth round defeat against grade one Premier League academy outfit Stoke City at One Call Stadium on Monday evening.
In what was the biggest night of our youth team’s 2014/15 campaign, the boys entered the game knowing they were massive underdogs, playing against a side with fantastic resources and experience at their disposal.
However, the Stags’ line-up would have been buoyed by their fine form of late, picking up five wins from their last six Football League Youth Alliance games and having already disposed of Boston United, Northampton Town and Tranmere Rovers, in the previous rounds of the cup.
The first chance of the game fell to the Stags after nine minutes of play, as Joe Fitzpatrick rifled a low shot from 30 yards out, with Stoke keeper Dan Gyollai doing well to get his body behind the ball.
The Potters then went close to opening the scoring four minutes later as Theo Vassell broke away from the Mansfield defence, only for his shot to clip the outside of Sam Wilson's left-hand post and roll out for a goal-kick.
Despite the perceived gulf in class between the two sides, the game remained equally balanced in the opening exchanges and the Stags went close again on 16 minutes, when Anthony Dwyer's neat back-heel set up top scorer Dan Fletcher, but the marksman's shot couldn't find its way past Gyollai.
Mansfield continued to put the visitors’ defence under significant amounts of pressure and on 27 minutes Tyler Blake was unlucky not to find the net, when a corner kick fell perfectly for the ex-Nottingham Forest youngster, but his well-struck shot from the penalty spot was deflected away for a corner kick by a City defender.
In a game which was arguably the biggest of our youngster's careers so far, they were certainly looking unfazed and could have considered themselves unfortunate not to have had their noses in front as the break approached.
However, right on half time, the Stags were hit with a sucker-punch, when having sloppily lost possession in the middle of the park, Stoke's Belgian forward Julien N'Goy was then able to out-pace the home defence and slot home past Wilson, to put the Potters a goal to the good against the run of play.
Back in December, City dished-out a third round, 5-0 thrashing of Sheffield Wednesday at Hillsborough and no doubt this would have been preying on Mansfield minds, knowing they would have to produce a similar or improved performance to the first half, to get back into the game.
Things did look promising early on, when after three minutes of the re-start Chris Spencer unleashed a fierce long-range effort, which just crept past the wrong side of the visitor's post, but after 68 minutes the Potters managed to double their lead, when Yusuf Coban's initial shot struck the foot of Wilson's right-hand post, before Johnville Renee-Pringle was on-hand to blast the rebounded ball into an empty net from eight yards out.
Despite the best efforts of our youngsters, they struggled to find a way back into the game and with 10 minutes remaining, Stoke made it 3-0, via an unfortunate own goal from Koczalski, who deflected a Dan Jarvis shot into his own net.
Spencer's well-placed free-kick almost found a consolation goal for Mansfield with five minutes left but a flying Gyollai save to his right saw the ball tipped over the bar and away from danger.
Two more close efforts from Dwyer and Kieran Harrison came and went in stoppage time but it is the Potters who now look forward to a fifth round trip to Manchester City but the young Stags can be rightly proud of their performance against such esteemed opposition, along with their record-breaking run in this prestigious competition.
Our youngsters now quickly turn their attentions back to the Youth Alliance, as they prepare to travel to Lincoln City this Saturday and face an Imps side they beat 4-1 at the Worksop Van Hire Stadium back in September.
Team: Wilson, Koczalski, Hempshall (Brownlie), Fitzpatrick, Shires, Blake (Harrison), Dwyer, Spencer (c), Fletcher, Holloway (Roome), Slone.