Stags’ academy manager John Dempster says there was plenty of ‘effort and commitment’ on show from his charges in Saturday’s 2-1 victory away to Hartlepool United under-18s in the EFL Youth Alliance.
Tyrese Sinclair gave Mansfield the lead just before half-time, before Rhys Sarson came off the bench to curl in a fabulous strike with less than ten minutes remaining.
Stags had to remain firm as a Riley O’Sullivan own goal made for some nervy closing moments, yet held on to leapfrog Hartlepool in the league standings.
“I’m really pleased with the effort and the commitment that the players showed today,” said Dempster.
“We tried to be brave in possession, even though the pitch didn’t really allow for it. It was a really hotly contested game between ourselves and Hartlepool and a great spectacle for under-18s football - so we’re really pleased.
“The preparations were excellent, and we’ve had a good week in training. Mark Hawkins, the academy director, has allowed us to come up on a coach today, rather than a minibus, which is important for the players when travelling all the way up here because it was an early riser.”
The youth boss added that his charges passed the ‘test’ of winning the game after an early start.
“[We were all] up at 6 o’clock this morning and then picked up by the bus just after breakfast at 7,” he explained.
“All of this provides a great test for these boys. Have they got the mental strength and the desire, and like I said, the commitment, to make that journey and come here and battle it out against a very good under-18s side? The answer to that question is yes - they’ve certainly passed that test today.
“We spoke at half-time about being in front again - which we have been in our previous three games, and we’ve gone on to lose those games.
“So, the challenge at half-time was, can you be on that bus after the next 45 minutes with all three points. Today we did that, and I’m really chuffed for the boys and I can tell that they’re really pleased as well.”