Academy manager John Dempster recognised that his players ‘showed character’ to twice come from behind in their 3-3 draw against Lincoln City under-18s on Saturday.
In a thrilling league encounter between the two teams, Dempster’s side fought back to level the score on two occasions, with Tyrese Sinclair netting both equalisers – one of which was with the last kick of the game.
Rhys Sarson’s penalty had given the Stags a 1-0 lead going into the break, but the game turned on its head a short way into the second half, when two quickfire goals from Lincoln put them 2-1 in front.
Sinclair then equalised to get his side back level, before Jon Smith gave Lincoln a late 3-2 lead with only minutes remaining.
However, Mansfield’s resilience showed when Sinclair drove the ball home through a crowded penalty area in the dying moments of the game, meaning both teams shared the spoils and went home with a point apiece.
Youth boss Dempster was pleased with the character shown by his players to come back from behind twice.
“I’m really pleased that the boys showed the character to come back, twice, [however, I’m] disappointed with some of the game management and some of the decision making from a defensive point of view,” he said.
“It’s important to play with passion and heart, but you’ve also got to play with intelligence and use your head.
“The little things in football go a long way, for example: we had a throw high up in their final third with five minutes to go and the ball ended up in our net, which says the organisation and leadership from the team is not quite there yet.
“We’ll watch the video on Monday, well pick the bones out of it and hopefully these players will learn.”
Stags’ skipper James Tague helped to galvanise his side, putting in a strong midfield performance and providing the assist for Sinclair’s first goal.
“Taguey played well,” added Dempster. “When things go against us, he does use that to drive himself on which is key; he just needs to be a little careful that he doesn’t overdo it.
“There were some other good performances. Others, I was a little bit disappointed with. I think some of our players’ fitness levels may need to be better, because in the last five or ten minutes of the game when you’re tired, I expect people to make the right decisions.”
Dempster appreciated that Lincoln deserved something from what was an even contest.
“Yes, I do [believe it was a fair result]. Lincoln were difficult to play against today - they’re physically strong, they’ve got some big lads, they play forward quickly with quality, and our lads struggled to deal with it at times.
“They’re strong from set plays, and the basic things that are key in football - they were very good at.”
Stags’ under-18s are next in action when they face Oldham Athletic away from home on Saturday 08 September (11am kick-off).