Mansfield Town manager David Flitcroft felt he has finally seen the club ‘come together’ as a youthful Mansfield Town side extended the club’s unbeaten tun tonight.
The last gasp 3-2 Checkatrade Trophy home win over League One side Scunthorpe United saw three full debuts among six youngsters starting with another come on as a sub and Nyle Blake marking his full debut with a goal.
Under previous management the youth development side of the club did not seem to be a priority.
But Flitcroft knew its importance from day one and has worked tirelessly to make it happen, culminating in tonight’s glorious win and some young talent making the next step in their careers.
“What I have enjoyed tonight from our perspective was watching a club come together,” he said.
“There were fractions here quite a while ago and no one was talking to the youth.
“But we’ve brought them in now and there’s a common factor.
“We communicate with all the coaches on a daily basis and we have six or seven U21s train with us every day.
“Watching that come together tonight was great as well as watching the senior pros embrace that.
“I told the senior pros before the game ‘you made your debut once and I want this a winning debut for the young players as every player remembers his debut’.
“I can remember my own debut at Fulham. You never forget it. It’s something that lives with you, especially a winning debut.”
He continued: “The experienced pros have helped them do that tonight and it’s important you harness and foster that environment. It’s important young players feel they belong.
“You get no fear from young kids if they feel they belong in an environment.
“This result was for all the hard work the club has put in. It is astonishing the strides the club is making.
“I am delighted I can put so many youngsters in tonight. The young players have now got a voice and our academy management structure has a voice.
“You can now see them fulfilling their potential out on the pitch tonight.”
Stags saw a two-goal lead evaporate against an excellent Scunthorpe side, only for Timi Elsnik to pop up with a 90th minute winner.
“We rode our luck at times, certainly in the first half when they blasted quite a few balls across us,” said Flitcroft.
“Conrad has had to be positioned well and made some good saves.
“But Scunthorpe have got some real talent. They are a good team and I thought we matched them.
“A group of young players like ours could have said enough’s enough at 2-2, but they went on then to go and get the winner which impressed me more than anything as Scunthorpe had the momentum at that point. The unity and determination in the group was fantastic.
“All the senior players that have not been involved tonight have been going made in the dressing room celebrating with the young players afterwards.”