Following Stags under-18s’ opening game at the new RH Academy on Saturday, youth boss John Dempster labelled the facility as ‘special.’
In the Youth Alliance League match, Stags were left disappointed after not getting the result they would have wanted, when a somewhat fortuitous 90th minute goal meant that Hartlepool United under-18s stole a narrow 3-2 victory.
The match was the first to take place at the new Radford & Hymas Academy, which is set to officially open soon.
Academy manager John Dempster spoke of the impact that the facility will have on Mansfield as a club after the game.
“It’s pretty special isn’t it,” he expressed. “We’re very lucky to have it and I think it will help to kick the football club on, both from a first team point of view and from an academy point of view.
“In the last seven or eight years that I’ve been at the football club, we haven’t had anything like this.
“There’s no doubt that it will have an impact on recruitment of players of all ages – from the first team, all the way down – all players like to work in a good facility and this one is top drawer.”
"We’re very lucky to have it [RH Academy] and I think it will help to kick the football club on, both from a first team point of view and from an academy point of view."
The game itself saw Stags take a deserved lead, when Larrell King got forward from right-back to score the opener from close range. An immediate Josh Scott equaliser two minutes later and a second half strike from Bradley Fox put the visitors 2-1 up.
However, as so often has been the case this season, Stags fought back with a thunderous Rhys Sarson strike, after Jimmy Knowles’ striker rattled the crossbar from the edge of the area.
Ultimately though, Fox sealed victory for Hartlepool in the 90th minute, and Dempster was left to reflect on a disappointing result for his side.
“Poor defending [cost us today],” he added. “We’ve got the players in the team who will always score goals, but if you concede three – however they go in the back of the net – you’re not going to win too many football matches.
“[We’re] really disappointed with the way we managed the game [in the second half] when we had the wind; we wanted the players to get on the ball and be brave, because if you’re kicking it long with a gale-force wind behind you, it’s likely to run out of play.
“[However], we were pleased with the first half performance, going against the wind, and to go in at 1-1 was a good effort by the boys. In the second half the instruction was to go and get on the ball and be brave, to be creative and work hard, but unfortunately, we fell short.
“I am really pleased with Larrell King’s performance at right-back - he did a good job both going forward and defensively. Also, Nathan Saunders did well for a first-year in the centre of midfield.”
John Dempster’s side are next back in action when they face Grimsby Town under-18s – a side who they beat 2-1 only a week ago – on Saturday 20 October at 11am. A venue for this fixture is yet to be confirmed.