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Academy coach reflects on strong defensive display

17 April 2018

Stags' academy coach Richard Cooper has commended the resolute defensive performance put on by Mansfield Town reserves in their 1-1 draw with Doncaster Rovers reserves today.

Stags took the lead through forward Jason Law's thunderous first-half effort, but were made to battle for the point after Robbie Miller equalised for Doncaster early in the second-half.

Cooper was impressed with the way his side adjusted to a new shape to cope with the opposing pressure in the second-half.

"Definitely [it was a tough battle], the pitch probably wasn't the easiest to play on for both sides," he said. "We had a good first-half where we were quite aggressive with our pressing and we created quite a few chances through that.

"In the second-half Doncaster rallied a bit and put us under a bit of pressure for the first 20 minutes. It was pleasing for us how we adjusted our shape a little bit and got to grips with it [later in the] second-half.

"Every team will have its moments during games and Doncaster had a moment in the second-half where they were probably on top.

"Fortunately for us the lads stuck to the task and defended really well as a team which has obviously earned us the point in the end."

Cooper also spoke of how the academy is implementing pressing from the front to alleviate pressure on the Stags' defenders, and looked forward to the remaining games on the horizon for the academy sides.

"We encourage that [defending from the front], especially in training. If Jake [Dumbleton] and Jordan [Graham] can be the initial press and look for triggers where they can press it, whether it's a square pass or a backward pass, as a defender [on the same team] it does make defending a lot easier.

"We've have to make sure that we look after ourselves and our recovery is right [going into the last few games of the season] and we just try and finish off these next two weeks as best we can."

Striker Jason Law, who scored Stags' only goal of the game with a superb first-time hit from outside the box, reflected on his goal and the defensive solidarity that the academy teams have.

"It was a tough game on a tough pitch against a decent side, but I thought we did quite well," he said.

"It [the ball] sort of just came across the box from just outside and I thought I might as well just hit it. It sat perfectly and luckily it's gone top corner.

"The youth team has a very strong defence and they don't concede too many goals. As a defensive unit we're pretty strong."

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