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Academy coaches praise togetherness of title-winning Stags

24 April 2018


Academy coaches praise togetherness of title-winning Stags

24 April 2018

Academy coaches John Dempster and Richard Cooper have praised the team spirit and togetherness of the Stags' under-18s side after they won the EFL Youth Alliance North East Division title for the third successive season today.

Stags' 2-1 win over Bradford City earned them the title, with goals coming from Rhys Sarson and Nyle Blake.

Academy boss John Dempster spoke of how Stags have been by far the best team in the Youth Alliance North East Division this season, and praised them for coming out with a win despite only playing Chesterfield on Saturday.

"I'm delighted for the boys, they've worked hard all season and it's been a privilege to watch them develop," he said.

"When I speak to other coaches they look to create players with character, resilience and ability, and that group in there [Stags' dressing room] at under-18 level have been outstanding.

"They've been the best team in the league by a country mile, and it's credit to the academy staff that do a lot of hard work with them. 

"There were a few heavy legs out there but the fact that they've still found a way to win a football match is credit to them."

Dempster also spoke of the team spirit and togetherness of the under-18 players, and believes this has been a key factor to their success this season.

"Bradford had a few technical players in midfield, but if we look at chances created I think we were the dominant side.

"The boys deserve lots of credit, they're always together and they work so hard. It shows on the pitch.

"They have a never say die attitude, and they're fit as well so it allows them to come back in games if they need to. But also when we've been two or three up and teams have thrown the kitchen sink at us we've been resolute, resilient and kept clean sheets.

"If you look at the goals against column it's not just the best in the league it's the best in the country. It's a team effort to get those kind of results, and I can't speak highly enough of the players."

Senior professional development coach Richard Cooper has kept a close eye on the under-18s this season, and also spoke of the spirit and togetherness in the Stags' dressing room.

"It's a great credit to John and all the staff, to do it [win the title] three years in a row is absolutely brilliant," he said,

"Bradford gave us a few problems [today], but credit to the lads, they were in a massive game on Saturday [against Chesterfield] with a lot of energy put in. To come here just 72 hours later and get the win just shows what is in that dressing room.

"They are certainly together, and I think that shows both on and off the field. When they have to dig in sometimes when their legs are a little bit tired it does show.

"You're never going to go through a season and have it all your own way, there are going to be other teams who are going to want to stop you from playing.

"There have been some great individual performances but as a collective the lads always know what they're doing and they set out to win every game. They certainly work hard, that's something that's always been with the under-18s."

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