Mansfield Town 1-1 Everton U21s (Omari Sterling-James) – Everton U21s win a bonus point, 4-1 via penalty shootout | Leasing.com Trophy NORTH Group E Game 1 of 3 | Tuesday 27th August 2019 | One Call Stadium, Mansfield
Craig Priest writes…
With Mansfield Town in the middle of an injury crisis, John Dempster was forced to merge his past and present together – naming a young side to face Everton U21s in the first group match of the newly named Leasing.com Trophy.
Four graduates of his academy side were brought into the starting line-up as the Stags boss opted for damage limitation on his senior players ahead of Saturday’s trip to Exeter, whilst a further two members of the current academy set-up made the bench.
Personally I was delighted to see the youngsters given a real shot of getting into the managers thoughts for Saturday as it gave supporters the chance to see more of the work Dempster had done within the Academy in developing players capable of making the grade as a Football League player.
The match and result will matter little to many, for me I feel like the Stags senior players could have guided the youngsters through a little more and put in a bit more effort, especially against ten men for the final twenty minutes but given the state of our injury crisis and the fact our league form has not quite clicked – below par effort levels in a midweek cup game isn’t too much of a bad thing, so long as the reasoning is just that!
Everton’s youngsters played very well and marked the Stags out of the game at times and deserved their overall victory, showing Mansfield how to take penalties and earn a bonus point – as the Stags’ spot-kicks left something to be desired for the second time in as many weeks.
A few positives to take out of the game were that of the performances in particular of James Clarke, Aidan Stone, Alistair Smith and Omari Sterling-James. Clarke, who made his full football League Debut at the weekend, looked solid again at Right Back and given the right guidance is a very good prospect for the future whilst Stone looks like a very confident shot-stopper who will flourish further under the tutoring of Ian Pledger, working too alongside the experienced Logan and Oljenik.
Alistair Smith looked comfortable on the ball and was my choice for man of the match, his range of passing and movement is very good and I firmly believe that given regular game time, either with us or out on loan in the division below for three months or so, will really grow and be an asset.
Sterling-James is a strange one for me, he’s been here a few seasons now and still hasn’t hit the ground running – not being given a shot by previous managers.
I think he showed good movement and took his goal well, sometimes he frustrates me by not getting the ball out of his feet or taking the extra touch – but again given game time, we have a player who knows where the net is and can play in a number of roles up-front, perhaps he’ll get the shot he finally deserves in the coming weeks.
Stags boss John Dempster rang the changes to protect his more senior players given the current injury crisis, with skipper Pearce and fellow defenders Hayden White and Kellan Gordon all still unavailable Lewis Gibbens was chosen to partner Matt Preston. Other changes saw Aidan Stone replace Logan between the sticks, whilst Alistair Smith, Jason Law, Omari Sterling-James and Jimmy Knowles also started.
It was the visitors who enjoyed the better early chances but Aidan Stone was resilient inside the opening ten minutes to keep the visitors at bay, whilst at the other end Sterling-James came closest to finding the net – whistling an effort wide on eight minutes before hitting the post on 16 minutes from a free-kick.
Aidan Stone and Mansfield stood no chance on 28 minutes as the visitors took the lead through a phenomenal strike from Anthony Gordon, CJ Hamilton and Sterling-James came closest to pulling the scores level but at the break, it was Everton who held a deserved lead.
Alex MacDonald and Otis Khan were both brought on for the second half, replacing Law and Knowles respectively as Dempster cautiously tried to inject more experience into his side, the Stags responded with a good start as Sterling-James was denied by the keeper, seconds before Preston headed over Captain Mal’s corner.
Aidan Stone then kept Mansfield in the tie on 53 minutes to deny Gordon with a smart double handed stop, Matt Preston also go into the way of an Evans cut back as the visitors looked for a second before the hour mark.
On 70 Minutes the visitors were reduced to ten men as Baningime got his marching orders for a second bookable offence, but the visitors remained tough to break down – Alistair Smith’s well hit left footed half-valley saw the keeper push the ball away.
Sterling-James eventually found the goal which ultimately sent the tie to penalties for a bonus point with four minutes to go, twisting and turning well before firing into the bottom corner.
After seven additional minutes it was time for the Stags’ second shoot-out in as many weeks, and again it was the same outcome as despite CJ Hamilton netting the Stags’ first spot-kick of the shootout, Otis Khan yet again saw a spot-kick saved, before Sterling-James blasted over the bar from 12 yards.
The Stags still have Crewe and Burton to play in the group stages, so could still progress with positive results in those games later in the year (October 8th, Crewe – home, and November 12th, Burton - away)
FULL TIME: Mansfield Town 1-1 Everton U21s – PENS Everton U21s win 4-1 | Attendance 824 (55)
STAGS: [4-4-2] Aidan Stone | James Clarke, Matt Preston, Lewis Gibbens, Mal Benning © | Jason Law (Alex MacDonald 46), Jacob Mellis, Alistair Smith (Tyrese Sinclair 90), CJ Hamilton | Jimmy Knowles (Otis Khan 46), Omari Sterling-JamesUnused Subs: Conrad Logan, Ryan Sweeney, Tom Fielding, Jamie Chisholm
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