Stags have progressed comfortably through two rounds of the competition so far. Firstly, they defeated Bedworth United 3-0 before triumphing 5-2 over Dunkirk at One Call Stadium.
Academy manager John Dempster’s side are currently setting high standards in their EFL Youth Alliance title defence, sitting top of the table with 28 points from 13 games.
The Stags’ under 18s have tasted defeat just once in their last six matches across all competitions, and travel to Fulham following a 3-0 victory over Bradford City in the league.
Goals from forwards Zayn Hakeem and Jacob Dumbleton and centre-back Morgan Ratcliffe settled the match against the Bantams to provide a major confidence boost ahead of the tie against Fulham.
The under 18s’ high-flying league campaign has been well-complemented by an equally superb showing in the FA Youth Cup this term after picking up comprehensive victories in the opening two rounds.
Bedworth United provided the opposition in the first round and Stags professionally defeated them 3-0. Midfielder Cain Smith and striker Nyle Blake netted for the Stags, while Bedworth’s Brennan Howe scored an own goal which had given John Dempster’s side the lead prior to half-time.
The second round fixture against Dunkirk resulted in a goal-glut at One Call Stadium, with Mansfield’s young guns emerging 5-2 winners. Hakeem and attacking midfielder Alistair Smith starred in the clash with a hat-trick and a brace, respectively, while Jack Warner scored a double to salvage little consolation for the visitors.
Our opponents on Friday, Fulham, are likely to provide a stern test in the third round. The Cottagers’ academy side possess a Category One status, and ply their trade in the U18s Premier League. Their best run in the FA Youth Cup has been when they secured a runners-up medal in 2014.
Friday's match will be the West London club's first appearance in this year's competition after they received byes in the first two rounds due to their Category One status.
Head coach Steve Wigley’s men presently reside fifth in the table (Southern Division), having clocked up 19 points from 15 outings.
In their last five matches across all competitions, Fulham’s under 18s have won and lost two games each, while drawing the remaining one.
Building up to this Friday’s Youth Cup meeting against the Stags, the hosts defeated Swansea City’s under 18s 2-0 at home, with wide-man Jon Dagur Thorsteinsson and midfielder Jayden Harris both scoring in the win.
For Fulham’s youth team, Icelandic starlet Thorsteinsson has proven to be the main scoring threat this term, after registering seven goals in 12 appearances so far.
The winners of the tie will travel to either Middlesbrough or Rotherham United in the fourth round and that match takes place today (13 December).
Mansfield Town supporters travelling to this game on Friday are welcome at the following address:
Motspur Park Training Ground,
Please note: admission to the fixture can be gained at the venue for £3 (adults) and £1 (concessions).