Forgotten striker Jake Speight made a shock bid to be included in the Mansfield Town squad for Saturday’s big local derby at home to Chesterfield with the winning goal in last night’s reserve cup semi-final.
Speight has spent much of the season struggling with injury and illness, but his 75th minute strike sealed it for Mansfield in the 3-2 Final Third Development League Cup tie against a strong Leicester City side, who had just battled back from 2-0 down, at the King Power Stadium last night.
“Jake is a natural goalscorer and he showed that with his finish last night,” said manager Paul Cox. “Some players would have skied that over the stand.
“Jake only had the one chance in the 45 minutes he played and put it away.
“Now we will have to see how is he and if there has been any reaction to playing. We have been in this situation a few times with Jake and now we have to keep him fit.
“It’s the first time for a while he has been in the picture, but having a natural goalscorer in your squad is so important and, if he is all right, he is probably going to be involved on Saturday.
“We have a lot of games coming up and he could yet play a massive part for us.”
Chris Clements and Junior Daniel put Stags 2-0 up early in a game in which Ben Hutchinson made an early departure as a precaution on a tight hamstring.
Speight scored four times on loan at neighbours Alfreton this season, but the last of his four outings for Stags was the 2-1 home defeat by Morecambe on 30th November when he came on as a second half substitute.
Last night the Foxes roared back to level until Speight took advantage of a deflected pass from Lindon Meikle in the box.
Ritchie Sutton came through 70 minutes and Lee Beevers also impressed as both vie for the right wing back shirt with Darryl Westlake serving a one game ban on Saturday.
The Stags side also included two young trialists in Blackburn defender Aaron Tumwa (20) and Sheffield Wednesday defender Taylor McKenzie (19), who has just returned from a loan spell at Gainsborough Trinity.
Both impressed and Cox added: “They are both young boys and we will speak to their representatives and clubs before the weekend and see if anything materialises.
“We also have our eyes on a centre forward. But we are cap in hand to clubs at the moment as we can’t spend any money.”
Michael Cain’s loan from Leicester City expires on Friday and Cox will speak to the player and his club to see if there is any scope for extending the loan.