Mansfield Town’s league-leading under 18s were denied a third straight win as Burton Albion triumphed 1-0 on Saturday.
A well-taken 25-yard free-kick from Burton’s Ben Fox was all that separated the two sides at Kirklington Road, as John Dempster's high-flying youngsters couldn’t complete a season double over the Brewers.
Early on, midfielder Tom Marriott won the ball out on the left flank and played a quick pass to striker Zayn Hakeem who flicked the ball into the path of Devante Reittie, but Brewers’ stopper Lewis Walker read the situation well and came off his line to intercept the danger.
The Stags’ trio of Tyler Johal, Hakeem and Marriott were working well together, with full-back Louis Danquah getting forward on the left to provide them with ammunition. Hakeem flicked the ball forward to Reittie from goalkeeper Adam Bishop's long clearance and Burton defender Charlie Gatter had to move quickly to clear the ball out of play.
Danquah moved the ball down the left flank to Marriott again, who went past his marker and put the ball in to Johal, but he skewed an attempted overhead kick wide of the right-hand post.
The game swung in favour of the visitors and Burton enjoyed a spell of pressure. Joe Sparra's probing pass deep into the Stags’ area was cleared by a combination of Hakeem and Cameron Healey, but the visitors picked the ball straight back up and with Marcus Dinanga squaring up to shoot from close range, Kieran Harrison intervened with a firm but fair tackle.
The Stags finished the first half with a flurry, but the highly-rated Gatter was on hand to put his foot through Hakeem's cross and Healey nudged the ball wide from Bloor's resultant throw in.
HT: Stags 0-0 Brewers
John Dempster's side started the second half well - Danquah moved to pick up the ball, keeping the momentum going towards the Burton goal and the Stags’ left-back lofted it to Marriott who exploited the space left by the Albion full-back, but his cross into the six-yard-box was headed clear by Gatter.
Burton, however, proved that they were more than just a physical side and broke forward again as Joe Sparra stormed the Stags’ defence with menace, but the ever-reliable Harrison put a foot in and came away with the ball.
Soon after, Mansfield advanced forward again and the Brewers conceded a free kick 40 yards out. With the defenders wrestling inside the area, Stags’ captain Harrison took matters into his own hands and floated the ball just underneath the crossbar, where Lewis Walker managed to snatch it out of the air.
But with the contest in the latter stages, Burton took the lead. After winning a free-kick 25 yards from goal, Ben Fox made no mistake as he arrowed the ball into the top corner past Bishop and into the Mansfield net.
The home side didn't throw in the towel as Tyler Blake and Teddy Bloor both came close to unlocking the visitors’ impressive back-line, but the Stags couldn’t find a way through as they fell to defeat for the first time in three games.
FT: Stags 0-1 Brewers
Mansfield Town: Adam Bishop, Teddy Bloor, Louis Danquah, Charlie Shaw (Kane Baldwin 72), Morgan Ratcliffe, Keiran Harrison, Tyler Johal (Surafel Behailu 82), Cameron Healey, Devante Reittie, Zayn Hakeem, Tom Marriott (Nyle Blake 65).
Burton Albion: Lewis Walker, Mike Pearson, Joe Hunt, Jack O'Brien, Jayden Cotterill (C), Charlie Gatter, Jack Hallahan, Ben Fox, Marcus Dinanga, Joe Sparra, Dylan Garnett (Jake Saville 59).
Unused subs: Mizra Sejaic, Cameron Shaw, Cameron Steeele, Max Smith