Academy manager John Dempster has praised his team's tactical versatility after Mansfield Town under-18s' 4-0 EFL Youth Alliance win against Scunthorpe United at Brumby Hall.
The Stags ran out comfortable winners thanks to goals from Keaton Ward, Tyrese Sinclair, Sam Jackson and Jake Dumbelton. The win cements their place at the top of the EFL Youth Alliance North East Division.
Mansfield tweaked their tactics to adapt to the large, non-league pitch by forgoing their usual passing game and getting the ball forward quickly.
“We tasked the boys with playing forward quickly into good areas and play our football in the final third rather than trying to build possession up through the thirds,” said Dempster. “We tried to get there quickly and did it brilliantly.
“Some of our more technical players who are more accustomed to getting on the ball and playing did the ugly side of the game which was really pleasing, and when we did get the ball in the final third, we scored score good goals.”
The win came just five weeks after the two teams met at Brooksby Melton College in Melton Mowbray where Stags won 8-1, and Dempster believes they navigated the away game even more impressively.
“When we played them at home, I thought Scunthorpe played really well in the first-half but folded a bit after we scored a few goals,” he added. “But this time we dominated from start to finish and were as good in the first-half as we were in the second.
“We had some good individual performances, the front three of Tyrese Sinclair, Jake Dumbleton and Irwah Gooden were a constant threat in behind and they worked really well throughout the game.
“Our central midfielderss Keaton Ward and Harry Bircumshaw landed on second balls and played good balls forward, and our two wing-backs Henri Wilder and Sam Jackson were a constant threat and produced some good crosses.
“The back three of Lewis Gibbens, Aiden Walker, and Steve Johnson and the goalkeeper Xavier Sundby came out with another clean sheet, so it was really pleasing.”
Next up for Mansfield is a top of the table clash against Oldham Athletic, the only team to beat Stags in the league this season, and Dempster them to bring a tough challenge.
“We know what to expect, they'll be physically strong, and they're the only team to have beaten us this season over 90 minutes, in the cup competitions we went out on penalties.
“The challenge will be, 'can you beat the only team who have beaten you this season?' I'm sure regarding motivating them I won't have to say much more than that the players can motivate themselves and be successful and I'm sure it'll be a battle, I'm looking forward to it.”