Following a goal in either half, Mansfield Town’s under 18s experienced a 2-0 loss in their first EFL Youth Alliance Cup fixture of the season against Burton Albion.
The game started in a frantic fashion, with full blooded tackles from both sides resulting in an early yellow card for Mansfield’s Kian Sketchley.
In the early stages, Burton’s number nine fired narrowly wide following some neat control and Stags’ centre-back Cody Collins was called into action twice in succession to snuff out promising attacks.
A loose pass from the Burton defence almost set Mansfield’s young guns clear on the counter-attack, but a dangerous cross from Sketchley was cleared by the Brewers.
The deadlock was broken in the 34th minute.
As Burton broke down the right, a whipped cross was headed past Maison Campbell in the Mansfield goal from close range.
Immediately after the restart Campbell was in the action again, getting down well to smother a low shot from the edge of the area.
But the young Stags responded well to going 1-0 down and upped the ante for the final 10 minutes of the half.
Midfielder Ethan Hill connected well with a half-volley from the edge of the box but saw his effort fly over the crossbar, and his threatening free kick minutes later was flicked agonisingly wide by fellow midfielder Jonty Bouch.
The Stags went in 1-0 down at the break, but just three minutes into the second half the deficit doubled.
A driving run down the right from Burton opened up the Mansfield defence and the resulting pull back was tapped in at the far post to make it 2-0.
Mansfield’s young guns worked hard and battled as they tried to get back into the game, and some good fortune almost went their way in the 54th minute as another Hill free-kick was sliced just wide of the post by a Burton defender.
Campbell then came to Stags’ aid as he first reacted superbly to tip a stinging half volley over the crossbar in the 67th minute, before getting down well to push a rasping effort from distance away for a corner shortly after.
The closing stages saw more big tackles and little in the way of goalmouth action, but the Stags did come close after a teasing free-kick from substitute Darien Wauchope as striker Jack Deakin was centimetres away from latching onto the delivery.
STAGS XI: Campbell (GK), Hill-Smith, Cooper, Collins, Anderson, Sketchley, Bouch (Wauchope 78’), Hill (Hurdis 60’), Tomlin (Davies 45’), Reynolds (Edwards 45’), Deakin
UNUSED SUBS: Green (GK)