Mansfield Town under-23s will take on Carlton Town in this evening’s Notts Senior Cup final at Basford United’s Greenwich Avenue (7.45pm kick-off).
The Stags defeated Rainworth (1-0), Basford (1-0) and Newark (7-1) in previous rounds to progress through to this evening’s fixture.
Tickets can be purchased online here or from the turnstiles at the venue.
Alternatively, supporters can purchase a live stream ticket to watch the clash from home by clicking here.
Academy manager Richard Cooper believes the side’s run in the competition has benefited the development of some of the club’s youngsters.
“We’ve had three games previously in the Notts Senior Cup: Rainworth, Basford and Newark,” he said.
“All three game have brought their own challenges.
“The competition has been a really good challenge for the younger players to play against men’s teams; technically, tactically and from a physical point of view.
“That’s [playing against senior players] been huge [for some of the youth team players].
“The likes of Charlie [Carter], Darien [Wauchope] and Cody [Collins] have started a lot of the games in the Notts Senior Cup.
“You have to do things a lot quicker [compared to youth football], playing against men offers [different] challenges.”
Several players on the periphery of the first team this season have acted as helpful additions to the under-23s’ cup run. The academy manager lauded the benefit of experience in the Stags' squad.
“Marek’s [Stech] been a calming presence for some of the younger lads.
"The ball does come onto you a bit quicker when playing against experienced sides so having a goalkeeper which is communicating to the young defence certainly does help the lads.
“Lawsy [Jason Law] and Keaton [Ward] have been helpful. These lads have really shone.
"Nathan Caine and Josh Scott have been out on loan so it’s nice when you can get the group back together and then you can see how far they’ve come [with their development].
“[Youngster] George Cooper played versus Rainworth and now he’s got over 20 appearances under his belt for Kettering.
“He [Cooper] is eligible to still play youth football, but we believe in different pathways and bringing players through earlier, we hope to be getting these lads closer to the first team.”
Richard expects a tough challenge from this evening’s opponents, Carlton.
“Once you get to the final [of the Notts Senior Cup] you want to win the game. The Saturday development games we look at slightly differently but to say, ‘winning doesn’t matter’ [tonight] would be wrong of me,” he said.
“We know a lot of lads at Carlton, and we’ve crossed paths many times. It’ll be a tough game tonight and we are looking forward to it. There will be ex-Mansfield Town lads involved [for Carlton] so it will add a little bit more spice to the game.
“It would be great to get as many [Stags’ fans] in there [at the game] as well can.
“The lads will appreciate it [playing in front of Mansfield supporters].
"The players have had to dig deeper with the other matches being away. I think if there’s a few supporters in there tonight to cheer the lads on [then] they would benefit from that.”