New Mansfield Town U21/Reserves boss Mike Whitlow was delighted with his side’s discipline in their opening 1-0 win away to Rotherham United as they kicked off their Central League programme this afternoon.
“It was very disciplined,” he smiled. “I thought their work ethic and attitude in keeping the shape was fantastic.
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“Credit to Rotherham. Their no 9 (Joshua Kayode) up top and the lads in midfield moved the ball very well. So, it was a lot of hard work, a lot of defending at times and Charlie Shaw scored a great goal.”
Stags fielded three senior first teamers in need of minutes in Jamie McGuire, James Baxendale and Pat Hoban.
“It is always nice to have Jamie (McGuire) with us, and Pat for 45 minutes, and Baxendale in there,” said Whitlow.
“It helps these young lads as well. You have got three U18s from Saturday that started and two or three that came on. “So they were an absolute credit today in their work ethic and how they went about it.
“It is always nice to have somebody to organise, to dictate. It means something. And today it meant something.
“The lads take a lot from that – an experienced pro playing alongside a youngster.
“Today, Lewis Collins learnt from playing in there. And Kieran Harrison, who played Saturday with the U18s, has played today 90 minutes at centre-back.
“Apart from a couple of times, when he has got to learn to stay on his feet, he did a great job.
“Even Teddy (Bloor), who unfortunately got hurt in the end, was solid at right back.”
Keeper Adam Hassan had an excellent game and Whitlow said: “He made a couple of sharp reactions saves in the first half, some really good saves, which was pleasing.
“The main thing is he is gaining in experience, and this is an opportunity for some of these players to play against some older boys, from quality teams and have an opportunity to progress.
“We want them to learn and develop - and these lads have come in and shown a great attitude.”
He added: “We have got a couple of players who are out in non-League, they are at Dunkirk, some at Worcester, they are all over the place. And they are learning men’s football, and they are also here. So their attitude has been fabulous. “Some of them have a lot of hard work to get in the starting line-up.
“But it does not matter what age you are. If you are doing well, you will get a chance, and I’ll speak with the academy manager John (Dempster). Some of the 18s are flying at the moment. He’ll tell me who deserves the opportunity.
“Then you have got the gaffer who will tell me who needs game time, and we go from there.
“Today the lads were a credit. They put in a lot of hard work and discipline for three points and a clean sheet.
“To be honest, they (Rotherham) moved the ball better than us in midfield. But we were more disciplined, and had to be.”