Mansfield Town’s under 21s return to action for the first time in the New Year when they welcome local rivals Notts County in the Central League Cup tomorrow at Kirklington Road (2.00pm kick-off).
First team boss Steve Evans has hinted in recent weeks that players who have seen game time limited in Sky Bet League Two will be included in the under 21s' squad to work on their match sharpness.
Stags have thus far slipped to defeat in all three of their Central League Cup ties this season, but have put in encouraging performances in each display.
The Stags began their Cup campaign in September against Chesterfield at home. The Derbyshire-based outfit emerged victorious 4-2 with braces from defender Laurence Maguire and frontman Gary Taylor-Fletcher, while strikers Zayn Hakeem and Tyler Blake scored for Whitlow’s side.
The game was on an even-keel at half-time with the scoreline tied at 1-1, and Mansfield looked in contention for a point from the fixture as they were trailing 3-2 until 84 minutes. But a late Spireites’ goal laid any hint of doubt to rest, and secured full points for the visitors.
Next up was a trip to Shrewsbury Town which saw the Stags put in a spirited display, but they fell short by a solitary goal in the second-half from ex-Wolves striker Sylvan Ebanks-Blake.
To haunt Mansfield further, widemen Tom Marriott and Jason Law, and midfielder Lewis Collins were left frustrated by the Shrews’ custodian Mark Halstead, who kept the Stags’ trio at bay from excellent scoring chances.
In their last competitive fixture prior to the Christmas break, Whitlow’s men were once again unlucky to lose in the Central League Cup, against Nottingham Forest at the Nigel Doughty Academy.
Forest winger Anthony Wright grabbed a double in the first-half, but the Stags' youngsters regrouped and showed good composure to take the game to the hosts, with Collins reducing the arrears on 65 minutes.
However, Mansfield’s late endeavour for an equaliser could not be transformed into a goal, and they left Forest with a 2-1 defeat.
Notts County’s Central League Cup campaign is still only one-game old and they picked up full points against Shrewsbury with a 2-1 victory earlier this month.
A strong Magpies’ side, featuring eight first-team players, had closed off the game in the first-half itself with striker Montel Gibson’s opener, followed by midfielder Dominic Brown-Hill’s sensational strike from 35-yards. The Shrews’ slotted in a consolation on 91 minutes through John McAtee.
Supporters are welcome to attend the match tomorrow at the following address:
Rainworth Miners Welfare,
Admission prices are as follows:
Under 16s: FREE