Full Time Score Mansfield Town 3-1 Derby County
Competition Pre-Season Friendly
Venue The One Call Stadium, Mansfield
Goal Scorers Jordan Graham, Lee Angol (P), CJ Hamilton
Attendance 4,058 (1,394)
Craig Priest writes…
Throughout the summer the euphoria of the world cup has threatened to bring football home, well for Stags fans – football did come home last night, home to the One Call Stadium where David Flitcroft recorded his first home win, beating Frank Lampard’s Derby County 3-1.
Flitcroft wanted to see his side tested more defensively having dominated a lot with the ball during pre-season so far, a wish he was granted – but I’m sure even he would be surprised at how comfortable his players were and subsequently how well they attacked.
I’m not going to get carried away with the final outcome, although given it’s the first home game it’s easy to let that adrenaline rush take over, I’m pleased with the result don’t get me wrong, but there are three other things I’ve taken from the match against a strong Rams side, which are far more pleasing.
Those things are ‘The Flitcroft Mentality’, ‘The Progression of Youth’ and ‘Adaptability & Application’.
Starting with the Flitcroft mentality, I think the more I look at the situation he came into last season the more respect I have for him. He walked into a dressing room who clearly did not want to play his way and implement things which would either win us games, or save us from late defeats – that’s simply pressing teams higher up, closing play down and paying your way forward.
It would be wrong of me to say that the players who have left during the summer are those who were against the changes, that’s pure speculation which wouldn’t be fair on anyone, but those players who have stayed have listened and brought into the changes and have become better for it – credit has to go to Flitcroft for keeping his head and showing the patience in what was a highly pressured situation, he deserves last night’s victory and will have undoubtedly won over a few more supporters in gaining it.
I have to say I’ve always liked the idea of playing with three central defenders and playing out from the back, that way you control possession and you dictate how the opposition plays, because that system with the right personnel is difficult to defend against.
It’s only downfall and we WILL see this (and I’m sure this is actually what the Stags boss hoped for last night) is when you press to high, a good direct team can get in behind and punish you – a sharper Derby County may well have done and where perhaps a tad unlucky in hitting the post and putting a few efforts wide.
That’s where the ‘Application and Adaptability’ part comes into play, as we saw last night the midfield was flexible enough for Bishop, MacDonald and Khan (Up until the 58th minute when the side was changed) to sit comfortably in deep or high roles and allow others to build around them.
The Stags were dealt a blow on 68 minutes when trailist Nathan Cameron was injured, Derby scoring as a result, and had to change system for 3-4-1-2/ 3-4-3 to a flat 4-4-2 with Will Atkinson (The only player to play the full 90 minutes) playing right back and CJ Hamilton at left back. Despite being miss-matched, Mansfield remained settled and it didn’t disrupt their game at all.
Staying with the Application part, the Stags look a lot fitter – and I do have to question now the standards implemented by the previous management who brought in a highly respected coach in Lee Taylor (he left shortly after Paul and his mate dodgy, he’s now back with them), at the same all seemed well but even as early as late-August, players were struggling to complete 90 minutes, where as in every game I’ve seen (live or highlights) this term, we’ve looked like we could play each match at the same intensity thrice. Being that fit allows us to soak pressure and the counter on it, highlighted in the goals we scored – yes the young derby keeper made mistakes, but how many times have we bemoaned the Stags for not punishing errors?
Finally, I know I’ve rambled on a bit here, the progression of youth continues to blossom – with Lewis Gibbens, Nyle Blake and Jordan Graham all involved last night – the latter opening the scoring by closing play down to punish a goalkeeping error.
There is absolutely no point in having an academy structure in place if you’re not going to use it and David Flitcroft is certainly doing that and implementing it, as he has done wherever he’s been manager. He must be so pleased those youngsters are coming in, not just to make the numbers up, but to be on a par with the more senior players making an impact, credit too, to John Dempster, Richard Cooper and the Academy coaches.
David Flitcroft opted to play two sides; giving both keepers 45 minutes each and changing the entire out-field squad, bar Will Atkinson, around the hour mark. Paul Anderson wasn’t included in the match-day squad having played in the 1-1 draw with Matlock for the U23s the previous evening, presumably to catch-up with game-time, Striker Danny Rose missed out through injury although he’s expected to be back in contention next week – whilst defenders Zander Diamond and David Mirfin remain out for the foreseeable future through injury.
Frank Lampard’s Derby County started brightly and put the stags under pressure early as a shot hit Pearce in the third minute before hitting the bar, three minutes later Cameron Jerome tried his luck from distance but didn’t trouble Logan, who then held onto a Jerome header on nine minutes.
The Rams caused further problems as Tom Lawrence and Luke Thomas both tested the water to no end product, before at the other end Mal Benning’s testing cross after a fine pass out from the back from Preston, was just too heavy for the advancing Tyler Walker.
Neal Bishop tested the hands of Scott Carson on 24 minutes following a nice bit of build up from the Stags but the Rams’ glovesman was behind it well, two minutes later at the other end Logan was out quickly to deny Thomas who had found a way through.
Otis Khan tested Carson from range with ten minutes to go before the break, but couldn’t get enough power on the effort to make it count, the remainder of the first half playing out with Stags comfortably keeping Derby at bay.
Oljenik replaced Logan at the break as both keepers were given 45 minutes each, whilst the Rams made seven changes, the Stags looked the fresher side however and nearly found a way through as Davies played in Khan, prevented by a well timed challenge.
The Rams stuck Oljenik’s post on 55 minutes on the counter attack as David Nugent found space, the Stags were let off and then taken off to rapturous applause – Oljenik and Atkinson the only two who remained on the pitch.
On 65 minutes the Stags were ahead as Derby’s second half keeper Kelle Roos played a poor distribution pass, intercepted and converted confidently by youngster Jordan Graham.
Four minutes later the stags were temporarily down to ten men as Nathan Cameron pulled up injured, during which time the Rams overloaded the Stags box and grabbed the equaliser – Mason Bennett converting after Oljenik saved an initial effort.
Nyle Blake subsequently replaced Nathan Cameron as the stags reverted to 4-4-2 on 70 minutes – seven minutes later a nice bit of counter attacking play saw Angol bundled over in the area, he converted empathically from the penalty spot to put the Stags 2-1 up.
Three minutes later the Stags scored their third and best goal of the night, which all stemmed from a Derby corner.
The Stags headed clear and Omari Sterling-James showed thunderous pace to win the ball on the right hand side right infront of Flitcroft, a shout from the Stags boss to step inside saw the front man do just that and split the Rams back line – Angol raced onto the ball and unselfishly let the on rushing CJ Hamilton, who ran the best part of 80 yards, tap into the empty net.
FULL TIME: Stags 3-1 Derby County
STAGS (Until 58 minutes) [3-4-1-2]: Conrad Logan (Bobby Olejnik HT), Hayden White, Matt Preston, Krystian Pearce ©, Will Atkinson, Neal Bishop, Alex MacDonald, Mal Benning, Otis Khan, Tyler Walker, Craig Davies
STAGS (58 Minutes onwards): Bobby Olejnik, Paul Digby, Nathan Cameron [Trialist] (Nyle Blake 68), Lewis Gibbens, Will Atkinson, Jacon Mellis ©, Calum Butcher, CJ Hamilton, Omari Sterling-James, Lee Angol, Jordan Graham
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