Mansfield Town boss John Dempster was delighted with his much-changed side’s 2-1 Leasing.com Trophy win at League One Burton Albion tonight and said many of them had staked a serious claim for a place at the weekend.
Stags progressed to the knockout stages with this win, despite making eight changes, and Dempster said: “I thought it was a very good football match.
“Both teams tried to play. Both teams put everything into the game.
“We respected the competition. If you look at both squads today they were very strong for both teams and it was great for us to come out on top again in a difficult away fixture.
“Our away form is good and had been all season.
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“Players did put themselves in contention for Saturday when you look at the levels of performance today and the effort when we were pressing as a team. It was a real team effort tonight.”
Dempster was particularly pleased with youngsters James Clarke and Alistair Smith’s displays, who did not look out of place among first team stars.
He said: “There were some really good individual performances and I’ve got to say of the young lads that stepped up today, Clarkey was immaculate and Alistair Smith did very well in the middle of the pitch – he’s not played for a while, but he stepped up again.
“They were supported by our senior pros, who were very encouraging.
“That was matched by our away supporters who gave a brilliant reception at the end of another very hard-earned win which again sees us progress into the next stage of the competition.
“Bobby (keeper, Olejnik) has not played for a while but he was very good both with the ball at his feet and with some shot-stopping.
“The back three performed well in and out of possession. At times they had to block shots and put their bodies on the line.
“There were a few crosses coming into the box and I think Burton had four or five corners in the first 10 or 15 minutes.
“So we did the ugly side well today and also played some very, very good football.”
On the goals, he added: “Rosey (Danny Rose) got a goal with a great finish and it was brilliant to score from another set play, that’s Ryan Sweeney’s second goal of the season.
“I was surprised Danny didn’t hit the target with his other chance. He might be a little rusty as he’s been out for a couple of weeks, but having said that, his finish for the goal was sublime.
“To draw the keeper out and dink it over like he did was very impressive and I thought he had a good hour considering he’s not played much.”