Mansfield Town's U23s impressive cup run came to an end as the young Stags were edged out 1-0 by Carlton Town in the Notts Senior Cup final.
Cody Collins’ 12th minute own goal decided the contest at Basford United’s Greenwich Avenue.
Stags performed encouragingly against experienced opposition and created numerous goal scoring opportunities in a dominant second-half display.
Mansfield began well by drawing Carlton onto them and looking to strike on the counter. After Stags’ ‘keeper Marek Stech rolled the ball out to right-back Darien Wouchope, Josh Scott was played in behind the defence. However, the Stags’ striker knocked the ball narrowly wide of the bottom left corner having drawn Carlton ‘keeper Shaun Rowley from his line.
Carlton took the lead on 12 minutes after Khyle Sargent’s left-sided cross found the back of the Stags’ net after a touch from the head of Mansfield defender Cody Collins.
Stags reacted well by controlling the play in the moments after the opening goal to craft chances for themselves.
Just after the half-hour mark, Scott’s strong hold-up play allowed Ryan Burke to shoot from distance. After the Irishman’s effort was parried by Rowley, lurking Mansfield forward Nathan Caine came close to turning the ball over the line before a Carlton defender intervened.
Mansfield’s best chance of the opening 45 minutes came after a corner delivery dropped inside the Carlton box a minute before the break. Scott was able to direct a powerful shot goal wards but his dangerous effort was prevented by a Carlton body on the goal line.
Mansfield restarted the second half brightly by crafting numerous opportunities down the left side.
Stags’ left-winger Jaden Charles continued his strong performance by dictating much of the play in the second-half.
Charles came close to equalising for Mansfield on 58 minutes after the youngster wriggled into space on the left side of the box before flashing a shot wide of the bottom right corner with his left foot.
A minute later, Charles was in again on goal from the left wing. The Mansfield number 24 controlled the ball before again driving it narrowly wide of the bottom right corner.
The Stags continued to press for an equaliser as they penned Carlton inside their own half.
Mansfield came agonisingly close to an equaliser on 77 minutes after Keaton Ward’s corner was cushioned down by George Cooper’s head at the back post. However, the centre back’s effort was blocked and dealt with.
Three minutes later a Mansfield attack worked its way to Charles in the midfield, whose low driven shot inside the box was blocked on the goal line.
The young Stags never gave in and worked their experienced opposition hard until the final whistle. However, it wasn’t to be for Mansfield as the U23s’ impressive run in the Notts Senior Cup came an end.
STAGS U23 XI: Stech, Wauchope, Burke, Cooper, Collins, Carter, Charles, Ward, Scott (Deakin 76’) Law, Caine (Kruszynski 64’)
UNUSED SUBS: Avery, Pitts, King
CARLTON XI: Rowley, Gorman, Fletcher, Ball, Brown, Maddison, Watson, Sargent, Blake (Czerwak, 63’), O’Connor, Holmes (Howes, 63’)
UNUSED SUBS: Tait, Moore, Opoku