Carabao Cup First Round, Saturday 29th August 2020 – Deepdale Stadium [Behind Closed Doors]
Mansfield Town endured a negative and disappointing return to competitive action, as the new look side suffered a 4-0 defeat at the hands of Championship outfit Preston North End.
The new look Mansfield side were far from ready for competitive action as admitted by boss Graham Coughlan prior to the match, however I’m sure he will be relieved to have achieved his key aim – seemly finishing the match with no injuries.
With supporters not being able to attend, I said to myself I wouldn’t sit and write after a game – I’ve always maintained the mantra of “If you weren’t there, you can’t comment” personally, but in this stupid, Covid-adapted footballing world – that’s out of the window.
It’s very easy to get wrapped up in the negative points – conceding four goals, defensive errors and ultimately defeat – but let’s be realistic for a second, not only did we play a Preston side who were very unlucky not to have finished in the Championship play-offs, but we’re also a brand new squad who need game time to gel and click into gear – game time which given the forward move of this match, was unable to be found.
Personally I’m happy to write this one off and take away the valuable lessons we’ve learned and just focus on the season’s opener in two weeks against Tranmere – yes I know we have the Manchester City U21s match prior to that in the EFL Trophy, but as always whilst those games are competitive, they’re predominantly highlighted as a glorified friendly.
Obviously watching through a laptop means you can’t watch the game in your own way – camera’s tend to follow the ball rather than allow you to look at shape from set-plays or players’ off the ball contributions to create pockets of space etc, so it’s tough to convey thoughts onto paper.
However, I wanted to try and feel some form of “normal” in this stupid world, and so here I am! I was actually pleased with our approach play early on – Danny Rose impressed me showing more pace and creating chances for strike partner Andy Cook, who I believe can be a big player for us this season – he was especially unlucky not to score early on in the chance created by Roses’ excellent cut back.
Corey O’Keefe, Mansfield’s new wing-back played very well down the right hand side and would be up there if I was in the business of picking a “man of the match” whilst Tyrese Sinclair also impressed in midfield when he came on during the second half.
That is where I think we need to improve on more, we’ve brought in excellent box to box players like George Maris & Ollie Clarke (who we’ve yet to see) but thus far are yet to utilize them by playing through the middle and controlling play.
Fair enough you’re not going to get that against Championship opposition and the only games we’ve been permitted to see have been against sides who are from higher levels, I think we need to play a lower league side and, without arrogance being intended, be the dominant side and work on that part of our game.
Naturally we shouldn’t be happy with what we’ve seen so far from the defensive side of things, BUT it is still early, there is still time to adapt, add if needed, and improve. Does this result matter? Not really – it’ll be about as memorable of that time you had to walk one way around Tescos.
Onwards! Bring on the season… and more importantly, the day we can actually watch in person – armchair football, isn’t for me.
Click HERE to read the clubs official match report.
STAGS:  Marek Stech,  Rollin Menayese  Farrend Rawson ( Aaron O’Driscoll 63)  Ryan Sweeney ©,  Corey O’Keefe  Harry Charsley  James Perch ( Tyrese Sinclair 63)  George Maris  Mal Benning,  Danny Rose ( Jamie Reid 76)  Andy Cook
Unused Subs: Aidan Stone, James Clarke, Jimmy Knowles, Alistair Smith
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