Mansfield Town 1-0 Coventry City | Pre-Season Friendly | Tuesday 27th July 2021 | One Call Stadium
528 Days. A LOT has changed in the world and at our beloved Football Club in that time, but one thing that hasn’t changed is the comforting feeling of home – there really is no place like it.
Clough’s men made sure the triumphant return of supporters would be one that lives long in the memory, as George Lapslie’s second half strike was enough to see off Championship outfit Coventry City.
To be completely honest, we could have been pummelled 14,000-nil and I wouldn’t have cared less, because at 7pm as the Stags trotted onto the pitch – me, a thirty-year-old man, was stood applauding whilst tears ran down my face – the relief at being home again too much to hold back any longer.
Football has been one constant in my life, yes it’s horrendous sometimes with results and performances – but going to games, home games especially, taught me how to interact with people, how to make friends, laugh and have something to enjoy – I’ll be honest, watching through iFollow last season really took the wind from my sails.
The walk to the ground, seeing familiar faces milling around the stadium, the click of the turnstiles, the view from your seat, the smell of rain in the air, the anticipation, the faces around you shouting ridiculous things! All of these things seem so insignificant, but when you add these all together – it’s a beautiful thing which just does so much good. If you don’t understand, then I don’t know what to say really – because after I wiped the tears away and looked around, I could see 2,000+ others felt it too!
Performance wise I felt we coped well with a zippy (and beautiful looking, well done Mez and team) pitch against a Coventry side with a number of quality players – and again continued that pattern of trying to play fluid transitional football.
Clough had to tinker a little and played centre back Elliott Hewitt at right back, I felt he coped well there and looked assured defensively. Attacking wise I’d like to have seen him push higher up, but the way Clough sets up – to play more down the left with Quinn and McLaughlin, it’s not a major issue.
I though Johnson and Hawkins looked good together and are starting to form a good partnership which Lapslie complimented well, sometimes in behind at the top of the diamond, other times as the third forward – we’ll certainly hurt teams if we allow our hunger to be unleashed more as the season progresses.
We’ve still got a few players missing who will complement the line-up tonight which I imagine will be fairly close to the team that starts against Bristol Rovers a week on Saturday – the likes of Charlsey and Gordon in particular will add even more attacking flare.
Three more pre-season games remain, Basford tomorrow night [Wednesday], Nottingham Forest U23s [Saturday – behind closed doors], and [according to Clough last week] Buxton [Tuesday] – however will a few players missing through injury, it’ll be interesting to see if Clough uses all three, or just goes with the Forest game.
Either way it’s nice to be home, I can’t wait for the action to begin properly now and watch the journey unfold.
STAGS: Nathan Bishop, Elliott Hewitt (James Clarke 68), Farrend Rawson, James Perch, Stephen McLaughlin, George Maris (Ryan Burke 75), Ollie Clarke ©, Stephen Quinn (Ryan Stirk 62 [New signing on loan from Birmingham City]), George Lapslie (Rhys Oates 68), Oli Hawkins (Jordan Bowery 75), Danny Johnson (Tyrese Sinclair 75) UNUSED SUBS: Marek Stech
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