Stags’ under 18s coach John Dempster lauded his side’s ‘character and intelligence’ after they beat Dereham Town 4-3 after extra-time in the FA Youth Cup second round.
Goals from Tom Marriott, Zayn Hakeem, Surafel Behailu and Louis Danquah sealed the win for Dempster’s side against a spirited Dereham side.
Mansfield’s youngsters will now host Sunderland at One Call Stadium in the third round of the competition. Speaking post-match, Dempster was full of praise for his squad who fought and showed a clinical touch to come away with the victory.
“I said character and intelligence would win this game and it turns out we had a lot of character – to come back the way we did, go down to ten men. There was a lot of boys cramping up out there, we’ve got a lot to learn. To show that heart and desire, they’re a credit to themselves.
“Tonight the intensity of the game got to us a little bit so it’s something we’ll have to look at. With that kind of gutsy performance, they’ve been rewarded with a Premiership (Premier League) club, a Category One academy.
“That’ll be a completely different test I’m sure, but it’s no less than the boys deserve. We recruited mainly from the exit trials, a lot of these lads have been turned away from bigger clubs, and that’ll be the motivation they’ve used.”
Cameron Healey was an integral part of the win, playing the full 120 minutes in the core of the midfield and he talked gleefully about his teammate’s battling, and looked ahead positively with Sunderland in his sights.
“It was amazing. It’s tough out there, you’ve got to get through it as a team and you’ve got to keep motivating each other. From going 2-1 down and bringing it back, it was different class - the desire was outstanding, all the goals were good goals so I don’t have a favourite.
“When we saw the draw earlier, we said ‘let’s do it for Mansfield, let’s make them proud’. There was a lot of hard work that we had to put in, we were all cramping up in the end but we’re happy with the win, bring on Sunderland!”
You can watch the interview in full on Stags Player.