Shine under the floodlights tonight, Mansfield Town boss John Dempster urges U18s in FA Youth Cup clash with Doncaster Rovers

Mansfield Town v Oldham Athletic, Jimmy Knowles scores the penalty
Mansfield Town v Oldham Athletic, Jimmy Knowles scores the penalty

Mansfield Town boss John Dempster has urged the club’s U18s to make the most of their time in the spotlight as they take on Doncaster Rovers in the FA Youth Cup first round under the One Call Stadium floodlights tonight (7pm).

Dempster said: “From a player’s perspective, you’re under the lights, if you progress in the competition - like we have with our youth team in previous years - we’ve pulled some Premiership and Championship opposition, which makes it extra-special, plus there’s bigger crowds generally, and first team staff come and watch from both sides,

“So it’s a competition in which you want to progress as far as you can and it’s important to see how these players react under the additional pressure of being under the lights and bigger crowds.

“I look back at my experiences of being in the FA Youth Cup and I have wonderful memories.

“Most recently, when I was in the academy manager role, we had some great experiences home and away.”

Having only left his academy post in the summer, Dempster believes the club have some exceptional talent at this level, but knows Doncaster do too.

“We feel like we have some real talent in our U18s both in the first and second years,” he said.

“We’ve seen one of them on the pitch in the first team this season in Jimmy Knowles, so it’s a big night for Jimmy as well.

“One thing is for sure though – Doncaster have got a very good academy. We have had some right ding-dong battles with them over the last four or five seasons at U18 level and it will be a fiercely-contested game.”

Now in charge of the first team, Dempster does not plan to tread on any toes tonight.

“I won’t have any part in the preparation tonight – I don’t interfere but I will be there and I will drop into the dressing room to wish the players all the best,” he smiled.

“We have the right people in the right places and they’ve got a job to do tonight.”