CHECKATRADE TROPHY DRAW
Mansfield have been drawn in the Checkatrade Trophy in the same group as the Everton Academy (also described as Everton U23 on mansfieldtown.net, and as Everton U21 on evertonfc.com).
Mansfield have never played Everton in any fixture before, and still won't have done as this does not count as an Everton first team game - Martin
Checkatrade Trophy group finalised
mansfieldtown.net, 12 July 2017
Mansfield Town will face Everton's under 23s in the 2017/18 Checkatrade Trophy group stage, it has been announced.
Last week, Stags were drawn in Group G with fellow League Two sides Lincoln City and Notts County.
And the Toffees have now been confirmed as our final group stage opponents.
Stags will play two matches at One Call Stadium and one away from home in the group stage of the competition.
Fixture dates are as follows:
Week commencing 28 August
Mansfield Town v Lincoln City (home)
Week commencing 02 October
Notts County v Mansfield Town (away)
Week commencing 06 November
Mansfield Town v Everton (home)
Confirmed fixture dates and kick-off times will be confirmed in due course.
Blues Learn Checkatrade Trophy Opponents
evertonfc.com, 12 July 2017
Everton have been drawn to face League Two sides Lincoln City, Mansfield Town and Notts County in the group stage of the 2017/18 Checkatrade Trophy.
The Blues, one of 16 ‘invited’ Category One Academies who have entered an Under-21 side to compete in the competition, are in northern group G.
This season’s Checkatrade Trophy rules mean the Everton team, led by David Unsworth, will play all their fixtures away from home.
Notts County, managed by former West Ham and Newcastle United midfielder Kevin Nolan, finished 16th in the fourth tier last season, four places below Steve Evans’ Mansfield.
Lincoln, who famously reached the quarter-finals of the FA Cup, are back in the Football League after a six-year absence, having been crowned National League champions.
The selection criteria for the 16 invited Category One Academy teams is to include at least six players in each starting XI who were under the age of 21 on 30 June 2017.
Regionalisation of the competition (north/south) will also be extended from the second round up to the quarter-final stage, while there will be an increased flexibility in match dates when clashes with scheduled international fixtures occur.
Among the other returning Category One Academies are Chelsea, Leicester City and West Ham, while Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester City, Newcastle and Fulham enter the competition for the first time.
“It was a brilliant competition for us last year and something that we fully bought into and embraced," said Unsworth. “We performed really well. We beat Bolton Wanderers, drew with Blackpool and got done by a dubious late penalty at Cheltenham. They were three great games and we are delighted to be invited back into it again this season.
“The Football League have relaxed the rule of the fixtures being played within the international window, so we’ve got the freedom to play on certain dates outside of that. Hopefully we can compete with our strongest team and go far in the competition.
“A lot of plaudits must go to the Football League to allow us to play in this competition. It’s a brilliant idea and, talking about the development of young players, it’s something that I believe in.”
Checkatrade Trophy: Everton face Mansfield, Lincoln and Notts County
David Unsworth salutes "brilliant, brilliant competition."
BY DAVID PRENTICE, 12 JUL 2017
EVERTON will travel to Lincoln City, Mansfield Town and Notts County in their second stab at the Checkatrade Trophy - as English Football League chief Shaun Harvey says the competition now holds “genuine appeal” for Premier League clubs.
Manchester City and Tottenham have both accepted an invitation to enter their academy sides into the competition this season, joining Premier League champions Chelsea in agreeing to enter their under-21 teams alongside League One and League Two sides for 2017/18.
Everton took part for the first time last season, but with international call ups meaning manager David Unsworth was forced to field effectively an Under-18 team in a competition which insists League clubs field full strength teams, the young Blues beat Bolton 2-0, lost 2-1 at Cheltenham and drew 1-1 with Blackpool at Goodison Park before losing a penalty shoot-out to exit the Trophy.
Undaunted Unsworth said at today’s draw in London: “We fully embrace the opportunity ... it’s just a brilliant, brilliant competition.”
All three group matches this season will be staged away from home.
Liverpool, Arsenal and Manchester United have once again turned down the chance to enter the tournament.
EFL chief executive Harvey believes the presence of more top sides is proof the process is working.
“I was delighted when EFL clubs collectively backed the competition following a full and comprehensive review of last season’s pilot format, and we can see from the increasing interest from Category One Academies that the Checkatrade Trophy has genuine appeal,” he said.
“The competition provides a unique challenge to young players and seasoned professionals alike.
“I strongly believe players from League One and League Two clubs will look forward to taking on some of the country’s brightest prospects, who will themselves learn a lot from participating in a first-team competition.”
Now City and Spurs will enter their own academy outfits into the group stages.
The invitations are extended to the 16 teams who finished highest in the Premier League table last year and hold category one status.
Bournemouth, Crystal Palace, Burnley, Watford and Hull miss out as they are not classed as category one, while Liverpool, Arsenal and Manchester United rejected the chance to participate.
The 12 remaining top-flight clubs from last season, including relegated pair Middlesbrough and Sunderland, will all be involved.
So too will Sky Bet Championship winners Newcastle and fellow promoted side Brighton, with Reading and Fulham completing the line-up of academy sides.
The revamped trophy competition came in for harsh criticism earlier in the season with sparse crowds and protests against in the involvement of the Premier League youth teams.
But two thirds of League One and League Two clubs voted in favour of retaining the format, rather than reverting to the previous straight knockout tournament or scrapping the competition completely.
Several amendments were announced to the format, including an increase in competition funding to £3million, regionalisation of fixtures being in place until the quarter-final stages and the ability to play matches outside of international weeks on the calendar.
It was the scheduling of the fixtures and the clash with international dates that played a major part in both Tottenham and Manchester City opting out last season.
But now it will be hoped that their presence in the tournament will serve as a shot in the arm for the group stages, which will begin the week commencing August 28.
While the Checkatrade Trophy counts as a competitive senior competition for League clubs, it is considered an Academy fixture for Premier League clubs, so the Blues will still be waiting for a first ever fixture with Mansfield Town.
The Blues last went to Notts County in 1992 for a goalless draw, although Meadow Lane was the venue for the first of Graeme Sharp's 160 Everton goals in 1981, while the Blues last trip to Lincoln City was for a League Cup thriller in 1993 won 4-3.
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