Full Time Score Mansfield Town 3-2 Scunthorpe United
Competition Checkatrade Trophy (North) Group H [Game 3 of 3]
Venue The One Call Stadium
Stags Goal Scorers Nyle Blake, Calum Butcher, Timi Elsnik
Attendance 928 (119)
Craig Priest writes…
I’ve often been frustrated by the checkatrade trophy and the subsequent attitude that managers show towards it, however last night I proudly left the One Call Stadium contempt in the knowledge we have a manager who is both looking to develop the future of the club, and bring success to its humble fans.
The 3-2 score line had its positives and negatives and I’m sure other bloggers will happily sit and highlight the negatives of the way in which we surrendered a two goal lead, but I couldn’t care about that – as Mansfield Town did what was required and gave supporters a taste of future prospects.
With the Stags already qualified for the next stage of the competition, it wouldn’t have mattered if we had lost the match – the only difference being an away tie rather than a home tie. The importance of the match was to give youngsters (and I hate using that term in some respects) some game time and give them an introduction to senior, professional, football.
In the build up to the match there where many reports of “putting the kids out” which, whilst we did start young players and have teenagers on the bench, for me is disrespectful to the individuals involved who have trained with first team on a consistent basis, working towards the aim of being selected to play on merit.
That’s exactly what happened last night, David Flitcroft didn’t hand over the reigns to John Dempster and get the kit men to print shirts with 55 and upwards on the back for the sake of playing a fixture – he selected players who had caught his eye to play alongside those more experienced pros needing minutes, based on their work, application and attitude.
It is testament to the work that John Demnpster, Mike Whitlow, Richard Cooper and the rest of the Academy staff have put in over the last three years for the manager to be able to do that and I firmly believe that will continue when the Under 21s and First Team are under the same roof at the RH Academy which can only be a matter of weeks.
We already knew the potential of Lewis Gibbens and Jordan Graham, but it was the first time we got to see the likes of Nyle Blake, Jason Law and Alistar Smith who all started the match and who have been frequently mentioned by David Flitcroft. I felt they all put in a committed shift against what was a strong League One side, who despite eight changes, didn’t really field a youthful side – a fact which, given the nature of the competition, will be wrongly overlooked – make no bones about it, Scunthorpe were not there just to forfill contractual obligations, they were there to try and win and progress.
Frustratingly I was unable to sit in my regular seat in the upper tier due to ticket sale restrictions, so sat in the lower tier behind the home dug-out, and whilst I’m annoyed I didn’t get my regular seat – I have to say it was good to see the way in which Flitcroft managed the game, in particular the way he took time to sit with Nyle Blake after he came off for Mal Benning early in the second half.
Naturally with a sparse crowd you could hear fans more, and I have to 100% back Flitcroft’s reaction after a particular spell where Alistar Smith was berated for being disposed – he kindly reminded this particular supporter that he’s just a kid, and whilst I said at the top of the blog I wanted to avoid that comparison, I was very tempted to stand and applaud, as the young players are exactly that YOUNG! They need time to be nurtured and grow and gain match experience.
I don’t particularly want to single anyone of them out as again they all earned their involvement on merit, however I felt that Jason Law was terrific, playing out of position at left back, later left wing, and despite being a striker, played really well, held his own and really contributed.
All in all a very good night for the Stags, which with Timi Elsnik’s late goal, saw Flitcroft’s men top the group, they’ll play either Stoke City U21s, Bury, Macclesfield or Manchester City U21s at home week commencing 3rd December.
Only Ryan Sweeney kept his place from Sunday’s FA Cup clash with boss David Flitcroft making ten changes, which included debuts for Alistar Smith and Nyle Blake [#33] – whilst on the bench youngsters Harry Bircumshaw [#31], Tom Fielding [#35], Iyrwah Gooden [#36] and Tyrese Sinclair [#37] were brought into the squad from the Academy set-up.
Captained by Conrad Logan in the absence of Pearce, the Stags soaked up early pressure from the League One visitors with Lewis Gibbens’ tackle on 13 minutes preventing the visitors from taking the lead
It was Mansfield who took the lead on 21 minutes despite Scunthorpe’s pressure, youngster Nyle Blake skipped through the middle and let fly towards goal, seeing the ball nestle beyond Flatt thanks to the slightest of deflections.
Skipper Logan then made two smart saves five minutes later to maintain the stags leadm which they held until the half time whistle.
The Stags were looking a little out of sorts and on 52 minutes Mal Benning replaced goalscorer Blake to slot into a back three, as Flitcroft introduced the more familiar 3-4-1-2 with Atkinson going to right midfield, Law pushing to the left with Benning slotting alongside Gibbens and Preston, who replaced Sweeney at the break.
The switch also saw Butcher move into attacking midfield and it was he who doubled the Stags lead just a minute later, sweeping into the bottom corner after neat footwork on the edge of the area.
Scunthorpe found a way back into the game on 73 as they danced through the middle, setting up El-Mhanni to deflect one beyond Logan, a minute prior to the full time whistle the stags allowed Scunthorpe through the middle again – Andy Dales bringing the scores to 2-2, a goal which would have meant Scunthorpe qualification and a penalty shootout….. if straight from the restart, the Stags didn’t score, which they did as Elsnik’s effort looped over Flatt, again via a deflection – a thrilling end to a brilliant night for the club.
FULL TIME: Mansfield Town 3-2 Scunthorpe United
STAGS [4-3-3]: Conrad Logan ©, Will Atkinson, Ryan Sweeney (Matt Preston HT), Lewis Gibbens, Jason Law, Alistar Smith, Calum Butcher, Timi Elsnik, Nyle Blake (Mal Benning 52), Danny Rose (Tom Fielding 87), Jordan Graham
Unused Subs: Bobby Oljenik, Harry Bircumshaw, Tyrese Sinclair, Iyrwah Gooden
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