Mansfield Town boss Adam Murray was delighted to test out a very youthful Stags back four in tonight’s 1-0 defeat at Mickleover Sports.
With a small squad and no loan windows, Murray knows it is vital he has as many options available to him as possible.
So at Evo-Stik NPL Premier Division Mickleover, he threw together Teddy Bloor, Corbin Shires, Keiran Harrison and Louis Danquah and watched them at full stretch against a very good Sports side.
“It was a very competitive game and I enjoyed it,” said Murray.
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“I thought it had a bit of an edge to it and there was some good play and some points to work on.
“It was good to get the mix – it was 50/50 kids and some of our boys who needed to get the minutes bank up.
“Overall I was pleased with the work-out and to get 90 minutes into some people’s legs. And we came out of it with no injuries which was the main thing.”
He added: “For the kids it will be a big learning curve. “It goes to show that the gap from U18 football to, with due respect, men’s football at Mickleover’s level is huge.
“The intensity, the power and the purpose in the game is a totally different level. So it’s an eye-opener for them.
“We went with a very young back four today and I think at times that showed, But it was a great learning experience for them.
“They are not going to get any better unless we put them into situations where they are stressed and where they make mistakes.
“We learned nothing we weren’t really aware of tonight as this step is huge.
“That’s why I am a big believer if you can get the kids out on loan at 16/17 into this kind of football, you won’t get a better learning curve than that.
“The intensity of the game is a lot higher than playing youth team football. For our kids to develop and go to the next level they need to be playing against men.
“Tonight there were some big areas that they can see themselves they need to work and improve on – and they will.
“The biggest thing today was getting that 90 minutes into people’s legs. The most pleasing thing was the intensity of the game.
“We worked hard. We went and pressed. They are a decent side Mickleover, so, on a very tricky pitch, it was a good outing.
“I’ve got some real positives out of the last two games and we now move on to the final bit before we go to Newport and we’re feeling very positive.”