Mansfield Town again suffered another penalty shoot-out defeat after a 1-1 home draw against a high quality Everton U21s side in the opening group game of this season’s Leasings.com Trophy.
With both sides taking a point from the 90 minutes on a swelteringly hot night, the young Toffees earned an extra point after winning the shoot-out 4-1.
Stags were knocked out the Caraboa Cup on penalties against Morecambe earlier this month and this was no better from the spot as Otis Khan had his kick saved and Omari Sterling-James blazed over.
The visitors had oozed quality at times and stand-out man Anthony Gordon netted a fantastic goal worthy of winning any football match on 28 minutes.
But after having Beni Baningime sent off for a second bookable offence with 20 minutes left, Stags were encouraged to push hard and man of the match Sterling-James levelled with three minutes to go.
Until the penalties, there was plenty for a small home crowd to enjoy with several youngsters involved, Jimmy Knowles making a full debut and Aidan Stone his debut, Tyrese Sinclair doing the same as a stoppage time sub.
Summer signing Stone was in goal in place of Conrad Logan as one of six changes from the weekend.
Young centre half Lewis Gibbens took over from Ryan Sweeney, who was on the bench.
Young midfielder Alistair Smith started in place of Alex MacDonald and Jason Law and Omari Sterling-James replaced Willem Tomlinson and Otis Khan.
Replacing top scorer Danny Rose up front was highly-rated 17-year-old striker Jimmy Knowles, who started in place of top scorer Danny Rose for a full debut.
Stags went 4-4-2 with Sterling-James partnering Knowles up front.
Stone easily caught an early ball into the home box while Sterling-James had a shot blocked after Mellis did well to win a 50-50 ball.
On six minutes we then had the first real chance as Gordon skilfully danced into the home box and from an angle on the right forced Logan to turn away his low finish.
Two minutes later Mellis again fed Sterling-James and, from just outside the box, he flashed a powerful low shot into the sidenetting.
Gordon should have given the visitors the lead on 12 minutes.
It was a poor and dangerous pass from Stone to Mellis that sparked the danger and then Mellis lost the ball while trying to dribble past Markelo, who robbed him and set up Gordon to his left.
But his finish was weak and easy for Stone to grab.
The keeper also easily smothered Charsley’s low shot soon after.
Stags won a free kick on 16 minutes on the left 25 yards out from where Sterling-James bent a great effort that struck the outside of the left post.
Young right back Clarke was allowed to run on 18 minutes and fired just over the bar from 20 yards.
But Stone was back in action with his best save so far to block Adeniran’s low shot after great work from Gordon down the centre on 23 minutes.
However, Stone could so nothing about a moment of brilliance from Gordon on 28 minutes as the Toffees got their noses in front. Gordon picked up the ball 25 yards out and went past several opponents on a mesmerising run before burying a great finish across Stone and inside the far post.
Hamilton was wide with a low effort on 32 minutes after a lovely pass from Knowles, then Sterling-James sent a hopeful 35 yard free kick into the wall before Preston was inches away from getting a head on a Mellis free kick.
Mellis was then disappointingly high with an 18 yard free kick as Mansfield continued to knock on the door.
On 40 minutes Clarke sent Hamilton to the right by-line and his low near post cross was met by a cheeky backheeled finish by Sterling-James that keeper Tyrer did well to keep out.
Gordon was tripped by Gibbens on 42 minutes for the night’s first booking.
Evans took the free kick from 30 yards and clipped the outside of the left post.
Stags sent on MacDonald and Khan for Law and Knowles for the second half and almost immediately Sterling-James cut in and curled one over the far angle.
On 47 minutes Clarke put in a low ball to the near post where Sterling-James threw himself at it and connected with his chest, forcing Tyrer to turn it wide. Benning put the corner over and Preston, at the far post, fired across the face of goal and wide.
But Stone had to pull off a brilliant save to his left on 53 minutes after Gordon made space in the box for what looked a goal all the way after a spell of Everton dominance.
Baningime was booked for a foul on Khan on 55 minutes.
Tyrer safely held a Khan shot from distance as Stags struggled to fins a way through.
Tyrer also turned aside a long range MacDonald shot, that never looked like it would beat him.
Everton tried to break away on 67 minutes, with Markelo leading the charge until he was upended by Preston, who was booked.
But three minutes later Baningime hacked down Sterling-James and, having already been booked, was shown the red card.
With 10 minutes left and the visitors defending well, Smith forced Tyrer to get a hand to his low shot from 25 yards from a half-clearance.
But Mellis was added to the book for halting dangerman Gordon’s break down the left on 82 minutes.
A long throw into the visitors’ box was not cleared, allowing Gibbens the chance to poke a deflected shot to Tyrer.
Stags were finally level on 87 minutes. Smith found Sterling-James on the edge of the box and he worked an opening, sliding home a superb low finish into the bottom left corner.
A minute later Stone made a great block from a fierce Charsley shot at the other end.
In the final minute Smith went down holding his shoulder and injury-hit Stags sent on Sinclair for his debut to replace him.
A surprising seven minutes were added in which Sinclair put a great ball across the face of goal with no one finishing it with Everton holding firm for penalties.
Evans put Everton ahead only for CJ Hamilton to score, sending the keeper the wrong way.
Foulds made it 2-1 and, after Khan’s kick was saved, Charsley blasted in Everton’s third.
Sterling-James blotted his copy book after a fine game when he was over the bar with his kick leaving Markelo to calmly seal Everton’s extra point.
STAGS: Stone, Clarke, Preston, Gibbens, Benning, Mellis, Smith, Law (Khan HT), Sterling-James, Hamilton, Knowles (MacDonald HT). Subs not used: Logan, Sweeney, Sinclair, Fielding, Chisholm.
EVERTON U21s: Tyrer, Charsley, Baningime, Adeniran (Simms 68, Mampala 88), Feeney, Foulds, Evans, Gordon, Denny (Astley 86), Markelo, John. Subs not used: McIntyre, Anderson, Iversen, Carroll.
REFEREE: Ben Toner of Blackburn. ATTENDANCE: 824 (55 away). CHAD STAGS MAN OF THE MATCH: Omari Sterling-James.