Mansfield Town’s youth team bravely bowed out of the FA Youth Cup as Premier League Stoke City’s stars of the future won 3-0 at One Call Stadium last night to book a place in the last 16.
Nevertheless, it was a superb effort by Stags to get as far as round four – the club’s best run since the Academy returned in 2011.
Stags manager Adam Murray said: “At times it was a pleasure to watch them. They are trying to play some good football at the minute and I know they’ve worked really hard.
“They were up against a grade one academy with excellent players. But their shape worked for 40-odd minutes and the game plan worked. We just keep having these lapses of concentration throughout the club.
“But it was a great run for them and some of the individual performances out there were superb.
“My focus has to be on first team matters as it is important we keep this club in the Football League. But if the youth team were on a different page to us it won’t work.”
Despite having won five of their last six league games and having seen off Boston United, Northampton Town and Tranmere Rovers, in previous rounds, Mansfield started as firm underdogs before a crowd of 337 on a chilly night.
In the early stages Theo Vassell clipped a Mansfield post, but the home side went on to dominate the game and the chances.
However, right on half-time the Stags were hit with a sucker punch when, having lost possession in the middle of the park, they were unable to prevent Stoke’s Belgian forward Julien N’Goy outpacing the home defence and slotting past Wilson.
The Potters then doubled their advantage on 68 minutes when Yusuf Coban’s initial shot struck the foot of Wilson’s right hand post, before Johnville Renee-Pringle was on hand to blast the rebound into an empty net from eight yards out.
Then with 10 minutes remaining Koczalski agonisingly deflected a Dan Jarvis shot into his own net to finish off the home side and confirm Stoke’s fifth round trip to Manchester City.
STAGS: Wilson, Koczalski, Hempshall (Brownlie), Fitzpatrick, Shires, Blake (Harrison), Dwyer, Spencer, Fletcher, Holloway (Roome), Slone.