A young Mansfield Town side won 2-0 at Retford United in last night’s pre-season friendly.
With the experience of ex-first team star, now head of academy recruitment, Jamie McGuire in midfield as captain, the youngsters impressed as boss John Dempster decided to save his senior professionals for the bigger tests at Bradford PA tomorrow and Alfreton Town on Saturday.
However, all first teamers were present to meet and greet supporters before the game.
The side comprised U21s and U18s and academy manager Richard Cooper said: “It was a great test. It was very physical at times.
“We challenged the boys before the game to try and use the ball correctly.
“I think we did that for large parts of the game – we controlled the possession, and we were really pleased with the performance.
“We had a great pre-season tour in Portugal, and the U21s were a large part of that.
“The gaffer (John Dempster) had a great chat with the boys before the game, so it was an important game. I think the boys have delivered tonight.”
Jason Law gave his side the lead with a spot kick just before the half-hour mark.
On 26 minutes, the pace of Knowles saw him steal the ball and win a penalty from which Law was denied by the palms of Crosby.
However, following the rebound the referee spotted another infringement and awarded a second penalty in quick succession.
This time Law tucked it home to give Mansfield a 28th minute lead.
Tyrese Sinclair came inches from doubling the Stags’ advantage when his free kick crashed against the bar.
However, three minutes from half time, Knowles made it 2-0 after showing some superb skill.
Sinclair and Knowles both forced saves in a second half in which Stags also made sure they kept their clean sheet.
The only negative from the game was a head injury for defender Aiden Walker midway through the first half that saw him withdrawn with suspected concussion.
Cooper confirmed that former youth team scholar Jack Hawkins – who came on as a late substitute in the game at Cannon Park – has now joined the Stags’ academy coaching staff.
MANSFIELD TOWN XI: Campbell, Walker (Cooper 28), Stokes, Gibbens, Clarke (King 76), McGuire, Law, Smith, Fielding (Sketchley 56), Knowles (Scott 80), Sinclair (Trialist 69).
RETFORD UNITED XI: Crosby (GK), Swales, Smith, Gasui, Blakemore, Kane, Irvine, Walters, Watson, West, Dawson.