Mansfield Town’s under 18s progressed through to the FA Youth Cup third round with a thrilling 4-3 win over Dereham Town at One Call Stadium this evening.
Goals from Zayn Hakeem, Tom Marriott, Surafel Behailu and Louis Danquah sent the Stags through past a spirited Magpies side to face Barclays Under 18s Premier League Sunderland in a tie that has to be played before 19 December.
John Dempster made one change to the side that defeated Cambridge City in the previous round, with Drew Gibson replacing Morgan Ratcliffe at centre-half. There was a place in the starting line-up for Cain Smith, six days after appearing on the bench for the first team in their Emirates FA Cup tie against Oldham Athletic.
The game began in a scrappy manner, with non-league Dereham looking eager to take control of proceedings in front of a noisy Norfolk following. Stags’ left-back Louis Danquah caught one relatively sweetly on the volley, but it flew well wide of Curtis Childs’ goal.
Tyler Blake came excruciatingly close to giving Dempster’s side the lead ten minutes in. The ex-Nottingham Forest man raced after a ball played over the top, and saw a shot deflected just out of his reach, and it was desperately cleared.
Soon after, Tom Marriott found space outside the box and thundered an effort over the bar as Mansfield grew into the encounter in search of a first goal. In response, the visitors wasted a big opportunity to break on the counter-attack, but Seb Bialasik’s touch ran away with James Cooper looking for the pass.
Dempster was forced into a first substitution just past the quarter-hour mark as Morgan Ratcliffe came on for Corbin Shires. Lovely interplay between Kieran Harrison and Cameron Healey led to the former driving towards goal, which was deflected behind.
On 23 minutes, hosts Mansfield took the lead. Tyler Blake did brilliantly to keep a ball in and sped away from his marker, delivered for Marriott who curled wonderfully into Childs’ top right-hand corner.
Danquah could’ve doubled the advantage two minutes, later, but on his weaker right foot his effort skewed wide of the post. The Stags upped the ascendency and saw several crosses cleared as they sought a second, however Dereham refused to lie down and still appeared threatening. Zayn Hakeem, who continued to look dangerous with the ball at his feet, nearly curled a beauty into the corner via a deflection although the keeper held onto it.
In the next action, the visitors levelled the contest. The ball bounced up in the area for Bialasik who took his time, remained composed and thumped it into the bottom corner of Sam Wilson’s net.
With their tails up, Dereham started to set the tempo a little more with their forwards finding spaces to give something for the Yellows to think about. Marriott, feeling confident from his exploits in the opening stages of the game, looked once at the goal with the ball at his feet and hit a pearling strike inches over the woodwork.
Bialasik was eager to test Mansfield’s defensive stubbornness and accelerated in the direction of the goal and with the ball played over the top, it didn’t sit right for the striker to get a lob away as Wilson advanced off his line.
James Cooper, who netted two in the last round against Peterborough United, was the route for Dereham to take the lead for the first time in the match.
Bialasik ran the channel with menace and delivered teasingly for Cooper who just got enough contact on it to divert home, much to the frustration of Wilson who attempted to pluck from behind the line.
Shortly afterwards and with half-time approaching, Cain Smith gave a defender the shoulder before rifling the ball goal-bound, which Childs clawed away with one hand.
Mansfield got out of the blocks with purpose after the break and Healey had the opening half-chance of the period, but his tame effort trickled into the arms of Child. Down the other end, Cooper sprung forward and collected the second ball before dragging past the post.
Hakeem spectacularly thumped towards goal when he picked up the loose ball inside the box, although the goalkeeper was once again even to it with a one-handed stop. Despite having much of the possession, the Stags were finding it difficult to bring attackers Blake and Hakeem into the game and running against the opposition defence.
Looking for that to change, Blake smartly laid off for Healey inside the 18-yard-box whose left-footed shot travelled wide via another Dereham deflection as the away side fought desperately to not concede.
As a subsequence of a Dereham corner, Hakeem sped forward on the break and with two defenders closing him down, he cutely threaded Marriott through who struggled to get enough power on his shot to trouble Child.
Searching for a third to allow a bit of breathing space for the Magpies, Sam Lawn nearly caught Wilson off his line, while the busy Hakeem’s attempted pile-driver was comfortably handled between the sticks.
Cutting in from the left and with signs of the opposition tiring, Marriott sent a potentially beautiful effort towards the top corner, which Child held onto.
Teddy Bloor is up for LFE’s October ‘goal of the month award’, but it was his fellow full-back Danquah who got on the scoresheet this time around to level the game. Nice football around the area was eventually fed to Danquah who side-footed into the bottom corner.
With their confidence up and Dereham seemingly leggy, Mansfield notched a third to take the advantage again. Hakeem fought off his marker and stayed calm to stick the ball in the same corner as Danquah past an outstretched Childs, and the forward wheeled away in celebration in front of the loud away contingent.
With the clock ticking towards full-time, the grafting Blake gave the ball to an onrushing Hakeem who was still full of legs, but his effort went straight to the ‘keeper. Blake sought a sealer but his powerful drive just evaded the post.
As the visitors went for the equaliser, Kane Baldwin challenged unfairly which saw him receive a second yellow card, and consequently his marching orders. The Norfolk outfit found an equaliser in second-half injury-time as Robbie Linford squeezed the ball over the line in a goal-mouth scramble to take the tie into extra-time.
With extra-time in full swing, it seemed to be the calm after the storm for Stags’ offensive arsenal as Dereham, with the one-man advantage, were seeking their fourth goal. A lofted ball found Bialasik who needed more than a deft touch to get the ball over Wilson, but that’s all he could find.
Despite the extra body, Mansfield showed their clinical zest with another goal. Hakeem delivered with pace across the six-yard-box for substitute Surafel Behailu who stabbed home at the near-post. As Dereham carried on undeterred, Yellows’ centre-back Harrison accelerated back to execute a fantastic block after Bialasik had stretched the defence.
In the second period of extra-time, Hakeem was tirelessly working as a lone frontman with cramp appearing to hamper his efforts to run the wings. Blake shifted a little deeper to prevent the away side from carving out attacks via central midfield.
Stags’ backline were battling impressively as legs continued to tire with the end nearing. Despite the endeavour from Dereham with several long-throws and punts towards the area, they couldn’t get past a
Mansfield side who refused to be beaten again and the referee called time on a pulsating encounter.
Stags now face Sunderland in the third round of the FA Youth Cup and the tie must be played by 19 December.
STAGS XI: Wilson, Bloor, Danquah, Harrison, Shires (Ratcliffe 16’), Gibson (Baldwin 44’), C Smith, Healey, Marriott (Behailu 75’), Blake (c), Hakeem
Subs not used: Shaw, Hampson
Dereham Town XI: Childs, Ramm, Clayton, Linford, Rivett, Cook, Bialasik, Green (Attree 85’), Cooper (Fuller 68’), Lawn, Sainsbury-Logan (Green 90’)
Subs not used: Taylor, Robins