Mansfield Town’s under 18s travel to Bradford City on Saturday in the EFL Youth Alliance (12pm kick-off) as they look to bounce back from defeat against York City last week.
The young Stags are set to feature in the first of two consecutive away games, taking on the Bantams at the their training ground at Rawdon Meadows.
John Dempster’s Mansfield side are enjoying life at the top of the table as they continue their EFL Youth Alliance league title defence, having won 25 points from 12 games so far this term.
Their early season success included an unbeaten streak of nine games across all competitions before it came to an end with a 1-0 defeat against Hartlepool United.
The Stags’ youngsters have been in high spirits lately, having picked up three crucial triumphs in their last four outings.
A 2-0 victory over local rivals Notts County in the league was sandwiched between two superb FA Youth Cup victories against Bedworth United (3-0) and Dunkirk FC (5-2), which propelled them to a third round tie against Fulham on 16 December.
However, building up to tomorrow’s fixture, Dempster’s side suffered a dent in their high-flying campaign, as they lost 1-0 at home against York City on 03 December.
The Stags’ under 18s are likely to miss the services of highly-rated goalkeeper Sam Wilson against Bradford, who dislocated his elbow in the victory against Notts County.
But a glut of the Mansfield youth players have done justice to their talents of late, with strikers Zayn Hakeem and Nyle Blake, midfielders Cain Smith and Cameron Healey, and the defensive quartet of Henri Wilder, Teddy Bloor, Kieran Harrison and Kane Baldwin clocking valuable minutes under their belt playing for Mike Whitlow’s under 21s’ side.
Hakeem and Harrison have gone a step further into the senior squad in recent weeks, with the Antigua and Barbuda under-20 international making his way to the first team bench against Blackpool and Carlisle United. Meanwhile, 18-year-old defender Harrison was among the substitutes against Derby County in November.
Bradford have struggled in the league competition thus far, having collected maximum points in just four games, and losing eight of their 12 matches. They reside 11th in the table with 12 points.
The Bantams have suffered two successive defeats in as many games leading up to Saturday’s match, losing 4-0 against Notts County and 3-2 against Oldham Athletic.
Incidentally, the Stags will be looking to do the league double over their West Yorkshire opponents after they emerged 4-0 victors in the reverse fixture back in September. An Ashanti Pryce double was well-complemented by goals from Hakeem and Blake in one-way traffic at home.
For Mansfield Town supporters wishing to attend Saturday's game, they are welcome to the following venue:
Rawdon Meadows Playing Fields,
Woodhouse Grove School,