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Boss pleased with performances in Trophy victories

31 October 2017

Mansfield Town manager Steve Evans has been impressed by the quality of football displayed by his side in their last two Checkatrade Trophy matches as back-to-back victories against Everton and Notts County put the Stags in a strong position to qualify for the second round.

Skipper Zander Diamond marked his return from injury with the winning goal in tonight's 1-0 victory over Everton U23s as Stags drew level with Group G leaders Lincoln City on six points.

Stags will now qualify unless Notts County beat Lincoln City by one, two or three goals next week.

If County fail to win, or beat the Imps by four or more, Stags will qualify.

And after seeing his side pick up their second consecutive win in the competition after last week's 2-1 victory over Notts County, the gaffer credited his players for their high performance levels in both matches.

"I thought we had some real good performances [tonight] and credit to the players, on both Tuesdays they've stepped up and the quality of the football's been impressive," the Stags' chief said.

"We dominated from start to finish. If I'm being honest, it resembled Exeter on Saturday.

"I think the young Everton goalkeeper (Louis Gray) makes a mistake for the goal but he's kept his team in it with three or four wonder saves when he's going in different directions and manages to get back."

"On both Tuesdays they've stepped up and the quality of the football's been impressive."

Steve Evans, manager

Although Stags always looked the most likely side to get a winner during tonight's encounter, it took until the 81st minute for the home side to breach the Toffees' defence and the manager commended the quality in the Merseyside club's ranks.

"Because Everton turn up here with a 23s' side, maybe people don't know who they are – and they're not expected to know who they are – in terms of players in the Everton side, they'll probably think these are kids. These are boys who have played in the Championship.

"Two or three of them travelled with the first team at the weekend. The acting boss up above them in the first team, David Unsworth, knows these players very well and he's not taking those players if he doesn't think they've got a contribution to make, that's for sure.

"You don't go and train with Everton's first team, with the likes of Wayne Rooney etcetera, if you've not got real ability to play.

"We watched the highlights of their two previous [games] and we think they are possibly unfortunate to have zero points. They certainly should have four, if not six, and I think tonight the best thing I can say about our performance is we could have won by five or six here ourselves."

Stags' match-winner against the Toffees was defender Zander Diamond, who has spent the last two months on the sidelines with a groin injury and the boss was impressed by his skipper's overall contribution in this evening's match.

"I thought he was very dominant. Their young striker's very good and he will play at a very decent level, but Zander's not given him a kick today. He's been very powerful and strong against him and we've missed that.

"We're in the journey and in the process of getting him back. The plan was [for him to play] 65 or 70 minutes, but typical Diamond, we're looking at him and he's shaking his head saying 'no'. He'll be tired tomorrow but it's good to have the big fella back."

Stags' fans can login to iFollow Stags to view the manager's post-match interview in full.


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