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Derby day as Stags and Spireites clash in Central League

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Bitter local rivals Mansfield Town and Chesterfield will lock horns once again this afternoon, this time in the Central League reserves clash at Rainworth MW’s Kirklington Road ground (2pm).

It will be the second game for Mike Whitlow’s new U21s Stags squad, though there may be U18s and possibly the odd first team name on show too.

A local derby at any level will raise pulses and Stags manager Adam Murray said: “It’s a huge game.

“People must understand with this U21s team, a lot of kids who finished the game against Rotherham were development lads.

“They weren’t U21 lads or youth team lads. They were lads from the development scheme which is half college course and half football, so they did absolutely fantastic.

“That’s a new project. It’s not going to happen overnight. It’s going to take a couple of years to get the benefits from it like the youth team.

“We are only 18 months into the youth team. We didn’t have a youth team 18 months ago so you can’t expect to have the apples off the tree straight away. It’s patience. It’s a growing project – but we can all see the light there.”

With so many injuries and just 15 fit outfield players available for next weekend, Murray admitted playing any first teamers today would be a risk.

But he explained the ethos behind the new U21s side, saying: “Sometimes we’ll have first team players in there who want minutes and fitness, sometimes we’ll put people in to try things out, and sometimes it’s about giving the kids experience.

“It’s me, Demps (John Dempster), Mike (Whitlow), Coops (Richard Cooper) and Karl (Hawley), we all sit down and make sure we know what the plan is for that particular encounter and what we want to get out of it as we’ll want different bits.

Mike Whitlow’s side began their 2016/17 campaign with a hard-fought 1-0 win away at Rotherham United last week through winger Charlie Shaw’s sixth-minute goal while the Spireites secured a 2-0 opening day success over Grimsby Town thanks to a brace from teenage striker Ricky German.

Admission this afternoon is admission price is £3, however U16s are admitted free of charge with a paying adult.

Stags will also face Shrewsbury Town and Nottingham Forest in their other Central League Cup fixtures.