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Working with young Stags a 'pleasure,' says youth boss

6 May 2018

Academy manager John Dempster says it's been a pleasure to be part of a third successive EFL Youth Alliance league title win for Mansfield Town's under-18s.

Stags ended the 2017/18 season with a well earned 1-1 draw against Notts County; the point came courtesy of Tyrese Sinclair's equaliser after and a cross from fellow front-man Iyrwah Gooden.

The under-18s top the North East Division with just one defeat to their name all season, the most goals scored and fewest conceded in all four Youth Alliance divisions.

The season was capped by a trophy presentation at half-time during Mansfield's EFL League Two game against Crawley Town.

Dempster was impressed with the quality of the opponents but believes his team responded well.

“Being 100% honest, I was really impressed with Notts County, they keep possession and play with a diamond, but they put their foot in today too, which I think took our lads by surprise,” he said.

“Second half, we got a reaction out of them, it was an end-to-end game, we missed two penalties, and they had some excellent chances, Xavier kept us in it, and he was outstanding today.”

Dempster also looked ahead to the progression of the title-winning players.

“The bigger picture is that these boys have been outstanding this season. Some of them will be leaving the programme; others will be staying in so they'll need to learn quickly about different levels of the game.

“Under-18 football has done for a lot of our second years, who have been brilliant, they've been the best team in the league.

“Individually it's about getting up to standard for going into men's football; some will go out and play non-league and get roughed up that way, others will hopefully be training and be around the first team.

“We now have a manager who has a long-term vision for the football club and these boys want to be part of it they need to show him, that'll be the message from the academy staff.”

The mentality of the players has really impressed Dempster, intense defending combined with late goals and a strong mental attitude have been a feature of Stags' season.

“We try and create a winning environment for the boys to thrive in and motivate them and I feel we've done that,” he added.

“We've only lost one game all season which is an incredible effort and we've had outstanding results against Championship and League One academies.

“The overall desire to defend with each other, go to the last minute, getting last minute, winners, last minute equalisers the clean sheets we've had, it's been an absolute pleasure to be part of it.”

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