Academy manager John Dempster has said that Saturday’s 4-2 loss against league leaders Doncaster Rovers under-18s provided a ‘massive learning curve’ for his players.
Stags found themselves 4-0 down early-on in the second half, but the side showed great character and desire as they fought back with two goals of their own through Jimmy Knowles and Ryan Ingram.
Ultimately though – despite late pressure from Mansfield - Doncaster held on for a 4-2 victory and all three points. After the game, John Dempster was keen to emphasise the importance of the learning experience that the game provided for his charges.
“[The game was] a massive learning curve”, he stated. “If a team works harder than you, nine times out of 10 - or actually, 10 times out of 10 - they will beat you. [We’ve also seen how] individual errors can cost you.
“The positives from the game are that when we made a few changes in the second half - even players who came on and played out of position - they had a real positive influence on the game.
“Nathan Saunders made some great challenges and passed the ball well, and he played a part in both the goals. Ryan Ingram came on, and he ran-around and put in a lot of effort.
"[The game was] a massive learning curve. If a team works harder than you, nine times out of 10 - or actually, 10 times out of 10 - they will beat you."
“Matty Langton was challenging well in midfield, and Noah [Stokes] came on a bit later and did well in midfield also. Those boys will get a pat on the back. Now, we move on - training next week and we have a cup-game against Grimsby next Saturday.”
Youth boss Dempster was also quick to praise Doncaster, who remain unbeaten in the league after six games, with four wins and two draws.
“I think Doncaster were excellent from start to finish”, he explained. “Over the course of the 90 minutes they were worthy winners. [They were] really good in possession, and also when they lost the ball they really ratted around to get it back.
“I said to the players at half-time and full-time, although I’m disappointed, I actually enjoyed watching Doncaster today. Their work ethic, their team spirit, how vocal they were – it’s everything we were lacking. So, [we’re] disappointed, but a massive learning curve.”
Stags' under-18s are next in action on Saturday 06 October when they face Grimsby Town under-18s in the EFL Youth Alliance Cup (11am kick-off).