Jacob Mellis and Mal Benning scored one goal apiece as Mansfield Town secured a 2-1 win over Wolves U21s in the Checkatrade Trophy to progress to the next round of the competition.
Mellis netted an early opener to break the deadlock as the Stags continued to dominate possession throughout the first-half. Benning then doubled the tally for the evening just two minutes into the second-half to put his side clear.
Pedro Goncalves did, however, pull one back for the visitors via a set-piece; but it ultimately proved to be a consolation as the Stags made it six points from a possible six in Group H.
The result also means that Mansfield are safely through to the next round of the Checkatrade Trophy, whatever the scoreline in their final outing against Scunthorpe United may be.
David Flitcroft named a much-changed line up for the evening’s Checkatrade Trophy outing as four players remained from the side that drew 2-2 with Bury.
Benning, Matt Preston, Krystian Pearce and Timi Elsnik all kept their places whilst the other seven made way.
The home side threatened to take the lead inside a minute at One Call Stadium. Calum Butcher’s cross towards the back post was met by the head of Will Atkinson who could only divert his effort onto the crossbar.
The left wing-back then had an effort cleared off the line from a similar position before the Stags took a deserved lead in only the fourth minute.
Omari Sterling-James found Jacob Mellis on the edge of Wolves’ penalty area as he confidently tucked it beyond the ‘keeper with his right foot from 16 yards.
Wolves, though, threatened minutes later with some neat build-up play but were stopped in their tracks by a strong Pearce tackle on Benny Ashley-Seal.
Ryan Giles had the away side’s first effort at goal on 15 minutes, however, it sailed well over Conrad Logan’s crossbar and out for a goal kick.
Butcher was involved once more when he attempted to play through Jordan Graham with the outside of his boot. Unfortunately for the midfielder Will Norris was quick off his line to claim the ball.
Mansfield were then awarded a corner for their attacking troubles. It eventually made its way out to Butcher who played in Graham once more, only for the offside flag to be raised by Mark Cunliffe.
Moments later, Graham found space on the right flank – but his cross was slightly too heavy for Benning at the far post.
Logan was called into action for the first time in the 25th minute when faced with a Niall Ennis strike. Goncalves picked out the Wolves forward with a delicate cut-back, but was unable to find a way past the Stags’ shot-stopper with his effort.
Soon after, Graham would have found himself one-on-one with Norris just shy of the half an hour mark had it not been for an untimely slip.
Sterling-James had a chance to double his side’s lead with a free-kick from 25 yards but it only struck the wall of Wolves defenders.
The pressure was relentless from the home side as Butcher earned his side a corner with an effort from just outside the area.
Hayden White had his goalkeeper to thank when Giles’ cross took a hefty deflection against his leg, resulting in Logan having to punch the ball out of the path of Ennis.
Rob Edwards’ side came forward with 30 seconds left on the clock, but the attempted through-ball towards Oskar Rasmussen was slightly over hit.
Sterling-James, with the last action of the half, struck wide from 20 yards meaning the Stags would take a one-goal lead into the interval.
And in similar fashion to the first-half, Flitcroft’s side netted an early goal to settle any nerves.
Elsnik took a short free-kick towards Atkinson whose cross was initially palmed away by Norris. However, the Wolves ‘keeper only directed it into the path of Benning who controlled it with his chest before making it two on 47 minutes.
Ashley-Seal tried to weave his way beyond the Stags back-line thereafter, but some great work by Pearce relives any pressure as he initially wins possession before being awarded a foul by Tom Nield.
Flitcroft made his first substitution of the evening when he introduced CJ Hamilton in place of Sterling-James.
The home side breathed a sigh of relief soon after, when Giles found space for a cross. It evaded both White and Ashley-Seal which allowed Logan to pounce ahead of anyone else.
Hamilton’s first contribution came just minutes after his introduction as he fired a volley into the ground and just wide of Norris’ goal.
Danny Rose was then introduced as he replaced Graham up top in the 65th minute.
Mellis almost bagged his second of the evening when his set-piece effort looked to be creeping into the top corner – had it not been for a superb stop by Norris.
Goncalves drove forward with purpose and won his side a free-kick in a dangerous position. The midfielder took the subsequent set-piece and curled a stunning effort over the wall and into the corner in the 74th minute.
The game seemed to spark into life following Goncalves’ strike as White burst forward to win his side a foul. Benning watched his effort curl marginally wide and collide with the stanchion.
Flitcroft’s final substitution came in the form of Otis Khan, as he played in Atkinson to win his side a corner, not long after stepping onto the pitch.
With five minutes left of the 90, Sadou Diallo stepped forward and struck a rasping drive that deflected over Logan’s crossbar.
Mellis looked to get beyond the Wolves defence in the final minutes but was pulled back by Cameron John – who found himself in the referee’s notebook for the offence.
The Stags were able to hold onto all three points as they continued their perfect start to life in Group H.
There will be no action this Saturday due to international call-ups for three Stags players – meaning the next fixture will be on Saturday 20th October against Swindon Town at the County Ground.
STAGS XI: Logan (GK), White, Benning, Preston, Pearce ©, Mellis, Atkinson, Butcher (Khan 79’), Elsnik, Sterling-James (Hamilton 60’), Graham (Rose 65’).
SUBS NOT USED: Olejnik (GK), Walker, Law, Gibbens.
WOLVES XI: Norris (GK), Giles, Ashley-Seal, Goncalves, Alves (Samuels 80’), Rasmussen, Diallo, Ennis, John, Kilman, Iorfa.
SUBS NOT USED: Sondergaard (GK), Crabtree, Perry, Thompson, Richards, Cundle.
REFEREE: Tom Nield.
ASSISTANTS: Mark Cunliffe & Christopher Ward.
FOURTH OFFICIAL: Craig Taylor
ATTENDANCE: 1’112 (131 away).