Mansfield Town beat Everton U23's to boost hopes of Checkatrade Trophy progress
Zander Diamond hit the only goal of the game as Mansfield Town beat Everton U23's to boost their hopes of progressing in the Checkatrade Trophy.,
Diamond finally broke the deadlock with nine minutes to go after heading home from close range.
It was nothing more than an impressive Mansfield, who made 11 changes going into the game, deserved following another strong 90 minutes.
The win moves Stags up to second in the Group G table, level on points with leaders Lincoln and three ahead of Notts County, who face each other in the group’s final fixture at Sincil Bank on Tuesday.
Everton had shot-stopper Louis Gray to thank for keeping the score down following a string of superb second half saves to frustrate on-song Stags.
The win will also give Steve Evans plenty to ponder following a number of strong individual displays, with Diamond, Omari Sterling-James and Calum Butcher amongst the men to impress.
Butcher started the night badly when he went into the book after just four minutes after a late tackle on Josh Bowler.
Bobby Olejnik alertly turned away an Anthony Evans shot at his near post after a good run by Nathan Broadhead two minutes later.
Lee Angol was off target with a powerful shot on eight minutes after a nice lay-off from Butcher created an opening.
Gray beat away a firm shot by Will Atkinson with an instinctive save after he had initially flapped at a corner.
Angol failed to get hold of a long range effort just after the half hour mark following a bursting run from midfield.
Omari Sterling-James hit a firm shot right at Gray on 44 minutes as the half drifted with little purpose towards the break.
Sterling-James was inches away from opening the scoring with a shot that drifted agonisingly across the face of goal on 51 minutes as Stags came out all guns blazing.
Gray produced the save of the match when he palmed away Butcher’s goalbound header at full stretch on 61 minutes.
James Spencer had a fierce volley blocked on the line before an unmarked Diamond headed over from a corner three minutes later.
Alfie Potter was the next home player to go close when he cut inside before unleashing a shot which was turned away for a corner by the on-form Gray.
Luke Garbett smashed a long range free-kick well over on 71 minutes as Everton continued to offer no attacking threat.
Angol had a goal ruled out after Butcher had strayed into an offside before he made the pass.
Grey produced another stunning save with his feet to keep out Butcher after a brilliant dummy by Angol created the chance on 78 minutes.
But there was nothing he could do when Mansfield got the goal they fully deserved three minutes later through Diamond’s close range header.
Mansfield Town: Olejnik, White, Digby, Diamond, Hunt, Potter (Anderson 90 +1), Butcher, Atkinson, Sterling-James (Hamilton 80) , Angol (Thomas 89), Spencer.
Subs not used: Logan, Bennett, Hemmings, Hakeem
Everton: Gray, Adeniran, Garbutt, Charsley, Foulds, Bowler (Hornby 28), Sambou (Lavery 59), Evans, Broadhead (Donkor 82), Markelo, Ouzounidis.
Subs not used: Hilton, Byrne, Mathis, Denny.
Referee: Michael Salisbury.
Attendance: 964 (36).
Man-of-the-match: Zander Diamond.