Mansfield Town’s youngsters booked themselves a third round trip to Premier League club AFC Bournemouth after beating Chester 2-0 in the FA Youth Cup at the One Call Stadium last night.
The club’s first team may have bowed out of the senior competition 24 hours earlier, but the club’s youth marched on and have been rewarded by the Stags’ directors with an overnight stay at Bournemouth for the next round.
Academy manager John Dempster said: “There’s a million and one ways to win a football match.
“The romantic way was in the last round, coming from 2-0 behind to beat Grimsby 3-2.
“Tonight was winning ugly, but that pleased me as much as the last performance. I’m delighted with the players and there were some really good individual performances.
“It will be a completely different challenge against Bournemouth. They’re a Premier League outfit and they’ll play a different style of football.
“The directors have promised us an overnight stay which will be a great experience for our players. That was the carrot for them tonight – we said that before the game.
“We didn’t mention the third round until just before kick-off, then we told them.
“The directors promised us the finances to stay over if we got to the third round and the boys have done that and deserve it.”
Striker Jimmy Knowles made the breakthrough from the penalty spot last night in the 58th minute after Riley O’Sullivan was brought down by a Chester defender.
Striker Knowles expertly placed the ball into the bottom left corner from the spot kick, leaving keeper Ben Gale with no chance.
After seeing his finish blocked on the line by a defender, O’Sullivan grabbed the second of the game from the resulting corner as the ball fell to his feet inside the six-yard area, leaving him with a simple finish from close range.
Dempster says that Mansfield’s finishing was the difference between the two sides on the night.
“I’m really pleased with some of the things that were on show tonight,” he said.
“I don’t think it was one of our best performances in possession, but Chester make it very difficult for you. They sit back and are very compact and say some and break us down.
“As it happened, it’s probably a tale of two set pieces that have won us the game, but I think we were good value for it.
“If you look at the opposition that Chester have knocked out in Barnsley, Hartlepool and Wrexham, they’re no mugs.
“They recruit well from big clubs in and around them, have some good players and are well organised. At times this season we have struggled to get that clean sheet, but our boys put their bodies on the line tonight.”
He continued: “We took the two chances we had from set plays. They had long throws, corners, and put everything in our box. I thought Jamie Chisholm was excellent tonight – he headed everything that came into our box.
“It was probably a tale of two boxes. We finished the chances that we had inside the 18-yard box and defended ours well.
“Chester had a couple of chances that they didn’t finish, and they couldn’t keep hold of our goalscorers today.”
STAGS: Marrs, King, Sketchley, Cornell, Armsden, Chisholm, Sinclair, Tague, Knowles (Ingram 90), Rangel (Sarson 46), O’Sullivan. SUBS NOT USED: Phillips, Langton, Stokes, Davis, Saunders.