Mansfield Town’s under 21s will make the trip to York City tomorrow for their fourth Central League outing, which will kick-off at 1pm.
The game against the Minstermen is the second of five away matches on the spin for Mike Whitlow’s youngsters.
Since being re-introduced at the start of this season, a very young under 21s’ squad has endured a testing time in the Central League, scripting a solitary 1-0 win over Rotherham United before falling heavily against more experienced sides Grimsby Town and Hartlepool United, 6-2 and 5-1 respectively.
However, building up to the York fixture, Whitlow’s men will be hoping to carry forward the optimism and the momentum regained against Shrewsbury Town in the Central League Cup last time out.
Although the Stags’ young guns were agonisingly beaten 1-0, the players gave a good account of their defensive solidity and attacking impetus with a much-improved display from previous games.
In fact, Whitlow’s team had the better chances at Greenhous Meadow, with winger Tom Marriott, midfielder Lewis Collins and forward Jason Law finding their goal-bound attempts repelled by Town’s ‘keeper Mark Halstead.
The Stags’ backline largely succeeded in containing the Shrews’ attacking threat in the form of veteran strikers Andy Mangan and Sylvan Ebanks-Blake. However, ex-Wolves’ frontman Ebanks-Blake exploited a momentary lapse in concentration from the Stags’ defensive line to grab a second-half winner.
Against York, Mansfield are likely to recall young striker Zayn Hakeem to the squad after the 17-year-old missed the Shrewsbury clash due to being away on international duty for the Antigua and Barbuda Under-20s side.
Hakeem’s steady scoring form with the Stags’ under 18s has seen him pitched in all three under 21s’ Central League games so far and the exciting striker was rewarded for his hard work with his first professional contract yesterday.
Tomorrow’s opponents York City have had a similar run as the Stags in three matches of the Central League, with two defeats and a win. However, the hosts sit above Mansfield in the league table in fourth position, owing to a superior goal difference of -1 compared to the Stags’ -7.
City will play Mansfield on the back of a 3-1 humbling against Grimsby Town away from home on October 11, when the Minstermen lost despite midfielder Callum Rzonca’s 15th-minute opener.
Mansfield Town supporters are welcome watch the Stags in action at the following venue:
York City Training Ground,