Mansfield Town’s youth team battled back from two goals down to draw 2-2 after extra-time and then win a thrilling FA Youth Cup clash 5-4 on penalties against Tranmere Rovers last night.
A goal from Corbin Shires, a last gasp equaliser from Oli Roome and two shoot-out saves from Sam Wilson, all helped the young Stags into the next round of this prestigious competition on a freezing winter’s night under the floodlights at One Call Stadium.
Right at the end of the first period of extra-time, the visitors were rightly reduced to 10 men, as Askew was shown a straight red card for thoughtlessly raising his hands and connecting with Koczalski, something which floored the Stags’ defender, right under the nose of the referee.
From the five kicks apiece, both sides each had a penalty saved and with the Stags having scored their first in sudden death, just as he did in the first round against Boston United, Wilson once again made himself the hero by stopping Tranmere’s effort to put his team into the hat for Friday’s fourth round draw, with all ties to be played on or before 17th January.
Stags boss Adam Murray said: “It’s another step forward for this football club and the furthest we’ve been in ages. It was good to see the first team boys here backing them too.”
The side played the style of football that Murray is trying to ingrain into the club at all levels.
“It’s something I want to drill in through the age groups and have everyone on the same page, driving towards the same goals,” he said. “The end goal has to be seeing local talent come through.”
The first of those in Murray’s reign is prolific striker Dan Fletcher, who signed professional forms last weekend. He has been compared with Stags legend Chris Greenacre in his playing style.
Murray said: “He has always scored goals. I was involved in bringing him in as an U15 and he likes to be on the shoulder of defenders and is always a step ahead of them. With a certain partner and at certain periods I think he can affect a game.
“But it a huge step up from the youth team and he need to learn his trade.
“He is a goalscorer and, like Chris, he is good at sucking the ball into his feet. He senses where the second ball is going to drop and you can’t put a price on those players. Once we get him up to speed he will be fine.”