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Interviews

Never-say-die attitude makes academy boss proud

8 December 2017

Academy manager John Dempster admitted he is 'gutted' to exit the FA Youth Cup but has heaped praise on his players for their 'monstrous effort' in tonight's penalty shootout defeat to Crystal Palace.

The young Stags had to fight from behind twice to earn a 2-2 draw, defender Aiden Walker's goal in the second half forced extra-time while striker Jacob Dumbleton's late strike took the game to penalties.

Frontman Iyrwah Gooden missed the crucial spot-kick under the pressure of sudden death as Crystal Palace ultimately triumphed 6-5 from 12 yards.

Despite the defeat, Dempster was proud of how his players dealt with the pressure of going up against a Premier League academy side.

He said: "I'm very proud of the players and very proud of their effort. Theres a lot of heads down in that dressing room right now because they've put every into tonight's game.

"I think the football club and all the parents and first team staff here watching and the first team players watching, which we really appreciate, I think they're all very proud."

John Dempster, academy manager

"We played a strong Palace side tonight and we've taken them to the last kick. We had a game plan and the boys completed the game plan.

"I think if he had a bit more rub of the green we would have run out winners tonight and I think we haven't quite got what we deserved because that was a monstrous effort. Everybody that came tonight I'm sure enjoyed the game and it's just disappointing with the result.

"The character, you just can't question it. They fight for each other, they defend for each other, they block shots, they head balls away and we've got quality. I am gutted for the boys because it would have been nice to get into the fourth round."

Stags caused numerous problems for the Eagles over 120 minutes of absorbing football and the former Mansfield Town captain was pleased to see his side's hard work on set plays come to fruition at One Call Stadium.

"I think a lot of academies neglect set plays. I think one in three goals are scored by set plays so it's ludicrous to neglect them. We work hard on them and we try and mirror the first team set plays as they are successful from them as well.

"We caused them serious problems. They weren't comfortable with long throws, balls in the box, crosses in the box, corners and they struggled to deal with us."

The academy boss also commended the performance of substitute and goal scorer Dumbleton, who was recently called up to the England Colleges national side, after the youngster missed a penalty in the shootout.

"We wouldn't have got to the penalty shootout if it wasn't for Jake [Dumbleton]. He's in tears in there. He was full of energy when he came on and scored the equalising goal to take it to penalties.

"He, along with the rest of the lads, should be very proud and happy with their efforts. Not only tonight but Grimsby away and Rotherham away.

"To take a Premier League club to the last kick of the game is an unbelievable effort. I think the football club and all the parents and first team staff here watching and the first team players watching, which we really appreciate, I think they're all very proud."

Supporters can login to iFollow Stags to view John Dempster's full post-match interview.


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