Mansfield Town's preparations for the league two season continued in disappointing style this weekend as the majority of the squad were tested against Coventry City and Boston United.
First up was League One Coventry on Friday evening, a 90th minute penalty saw Stags beaten as they twice squandered the lead after goals from trialist Calvin Andrew and the impressive Sam Clucas.
Less than 15 hours later, the remainder of the squad were embarrassed as they gifted Conference North outfit Boston three cheap goals and could only respond with a second half strike from substitute Ben Hutchinson.
TEAM SHEET: Coventry City (H)
AUDIO HIGHLIGHTS: Coventry City (H)
TEAM SHEET: Boston United (A)
AUDIO HIGHLIGHTS: Boston United (A)
FULL AUDIO: Boston United (A)
A disappointing display of attitude and commitment from Mansfield Town yesterday saw them crash to a 1-0 defeat in their latest pre-season friendly.
Febian Brandy netted after three minutes to give League One Sheffield United victory at the One Call Stadium.
Trialists Nathan Arnold and Amari Morgan-Smith were again given a run out as the search for a front man, continues.
Paul Cox's Stags slipped to a narrow defeat yesterday afternoon as they returned to the One Call Stadium for the first time since winning the Conference in April.
A snap shot from Radoslaw Majewski squirmed underneath Alan Marriott after just 52 seconds to gift Forest the lead and ultimately the victory.
Stags were much improved in the second half in the boiling heat and tested the Forest keeper on numerous occasions, however failed to find the killer touch.
Lee Stevenson was arguably pick of the bunch last night as Stags finally topped the blue square bet premier and put themselves in pole position to take the crown with a 3-1 win over Macclesfield Town.
The Stags in beating the other MTFC equaled yet more records as they grabbed their 28th win of the season, leveling the achievement last met in the 1967-77 campaign - moving onto 89 points, their highest total accumulated in one term, set last season.
More importantly the victory over the silkmen takes Stags two points clear of now second placed Kidderminster. Should Stags win at Braintree, the pressure is pilled on Kidderminster as they have to WIN to stay in the race, theoretically Stags could be back in the football league by 7pm Saturday night!
It was a night where Stags should have felt immense pressure after squandering the chance to top the table last week, however they played like Champions and were comfortable winners of a Macclesfield side that have failed to reach their targets of the play-offs this term. Matt Green opened the scoring and broke the tense atmosphere on 17 minutes as he flicked home Adam Murray's left sided free kick before Luke Jones doubled the Stags lead with a thumping header, again from a Murray free kick four minutes prior to the break.
Four minutes into the second half a delightful strike from Lee Stevenson made it 3-0 to keep the momentum flowing, the only disappointment coming in the final minute as Pablo Mills, a former Stags trialist, headed home a mere consolation for the visitors.
Due to a recording fault, there are only highlights from the second half available for this match
The returning Anthony Howell rounded off a man of the match display yesterday with an opening goal against Gateshead, helping Stags onto a 12th consecutive win to equal the all time Football Conference record, held jointly by Hereford and Burton.
Howell's fourth goal of the season came on 21 minutes after Gateshead keeper Adam Bartlett had tipped the impressive Adam Murray's free kick onto the cross bar and proved the only goal at half time.
Louis Briscoe doubled Stags' lead on 73 with a well hit left footed effort before Matt Green added his 19th of the season five minutes later.
Substitute Ben Hutchinson then sealed the win late on, netting a penalty in the last minute after his free kick was handled inside the box.
Another three points for Stags keeps them in second as Kidderminster again won, however on Thursday Mansfield play their first game in hand on the Harriers as they travel to Wrexham, who now drop down to fourth and trail behind by ten points. The victory, the 12th on the spin, also seals Stags place in the play-offs as 6th place Forest Green, are behind by 18 points with only 15 left to play for whilst goalkeeper Alan Marriott has now secured 50 clean sheets for the club.
Louis Briscoe came from the bench last night to keep Stags on course for the title, netting the only goal of a frustrating game against relegation threatened Nuneaton Town.
Briscoe's 67th minute minute free kick earned Stags' tenth straight win, equaling an all time club record set in 1915/16 and moving them within a point of Kidderminster who stumbled at home to Woking.
It looked like it wasn't going to be as Stags spurned numerous first half efforts including three off target headers from Junior Daniel, a Luke Jones thumper crashing against the bar and Matt Green striking the post - the Striker also saw a 63rd minute spot kick saved after substitute Matt Rhead was felled following a Chapman corner.
Stags moved to joint top of the division yesterday with a convincing 4-1 win over Stockport County at the One Call Stadium, a match in which Adam Chapman became the first player to net a hat-trick on his home debut since Keith Cassells during the 1984/85 campaign.
The Oxford loanee delighted Stags fans with a fine performance and netted the opening goal after 13 minutes, stabbing into the empty net after Matt Green was denied by an excellent one handed save from Stockport's Richard O'Donnell.
Seven minutes later Chapman doubled the lead from 18 yards following a deep James Jennings free kick before Matt Green added the third goal of the afternoon eleven minutes into the second half.
Stockport substitute Paul Marshall netted a sublime goal on 69 minutes from the edge of the area to give the hatters some hope, however the impressive Chapman completed his hat-trick eight minutes later curling home from the edge of the area following Lindon Meikle's assist.
The victory puts Stags joint top but in third place on goal difference ahead of crunch game with Grimsby, Forest Green, Wrexham and Macclesfield over the next two weeks.
Matt Green struck the only goal of the match for the second game running yesterday as Stags moved a step closer to the title by extending bottom club AFC Telford's winless run to 22 games.
Stags thundered the cross bar thrice in the first half but went in goaless despite the visitors rareley troubling Alan Marriott.
Five minutes into the second half Matt Green closed down defender Karlton Watson to open the scoring, clipping an acute shot over the advancing keeper.
Watson's afternoon would get worse with 15 to go as he was dismissed for fouling Adam Murray - Despite the numerical advantage Stags failed to add a second.
A man of the match performance from midfielder Anthony Howell helped Stags back to winning ways yesterday, as they overcame injury-hit Cambridge 3-1 at the One Call Stadium.
In a match that proved tougher than recent wins over Dartford and Barrow, Mansfield were forced to defend strongly on a pitch suffering due to the recent weather - however eager to return to winning ways Lee Stevenson grabbed his 6th goal in as many games on ten minutes after Matt Green and Junior Daniel were both denied by United blocks.
Alan Marriott kept Stags ahead moments later as he pulled off a wonderful save from Liam Hughes, however on the half hour mark Marriott was picking the ball out of the net as Cambridge repeated the previous sequence, Hughes thundering home a header from Ross Jarvis' corner.
Before the break Matt Green tapped in following a goalmouth scramble, however Luke Jones would claim the plaudits after referee Seb Stockbridge judged his header to have crossed the line prior to Green's touch.
Junior Daniel wrapped the game up midway through the second half as he thundered home a Jennings cross in what was a really fluent Stags move down the left hand side.
Lee Stevenson enhanced his reputation as a Stags hero yesterday as he put in an outstanding display as Mansfield destroyed Barrow for a second season running, this time thumping the blue birds by EIGHT goals to one!
Matt Green may well have taken home the match ball with a well deserved hat-trick two of which coming from the spot, however it was Stevenson's delightful display which rightfully earned him the man of the match award.
The former Eastwood man grabbed his fourth goal in as many games on eight minutes when he sensationally opened the scoring from 30 yards, driving into the top corner from Green's cushioned assist.
Tables turned on 16 minutes as John Dempster needlessly gave away a penalty, Danny L Rowe tamley converted to level the scores however despite a short spell of pressure from Barrow, Stags would soon kick on and open the flood gates.
Green restored Mansfield's lead on 23 minutes from the spot after Luke Jones was felled following Junior Daniel's deep cross, Daniel then made it 3-1 on the half hour mark from Adam Murray's acute clipped pass.
Two minutes later Stags struck again on the counter after the referee played advantage following former Stags trialist Matt Flynn's foul on Daniel. Lee Stevenson provided the assist with a stunning 40 yard defence splitting pass into the path of Green who lofted over the on rushing keeper.
Mansfield then grabbed a 5th for the second time in as many matches before the break, Adam Murray firing home after Blue birds keeper Pearson had spilled James Jennings' fierce corner.
After the break Stags showed no mercy and Green grabbed his hat-trick, again from the penalty spot, when Luke Jones was fouled by Mike Pearson on 51 minutes.
The seventh and eight goal arrived within the space of a minute, Stevenson slotted home from a give and go with substitute Rhead on 68 minutes, Anthony Howell's looping header from Jennings' deep free kick wrapped things up on 69 minutes.
One more goal would have sealed Stags' biggest ever victory and in truth it could have happened, and maybe even into double figures too, alas no but the three points is what counts!
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