Basford United 0-3 Mansfield Town | Pre-Season Friendly | Wednesday 28th July 2021 | Greenwhich Avenue
Having watched their teammates beat championship side Coventry 1-0 the previous evening, the remainder of Clough’s squad took on Basford United last night, beating their Nottinghamshire neighbours Basford United 3-0.
Mansfield fielded a very youthful side but one which included several members of the first team squad, including last season’s breakthrough stars Tyrese Sinclair, Keaton Ward and Jason Law, young right back James Clarke, who skippered the side and striker Jordan Bowery who, for a second time this pre-season, swapped ends to play centre half!
Two superb free-kicks from Tyrese Sinclair and a well taken poachers goal from Nathan Caine proved the difference to put the Stags three up by half-time, perhaps they should have had more in the second half – but to be honest, and totally unprofessional – I didn’t really watch the second half, I got talking to someone I’d not seen for a while! That’s the danger, sorry BEAUTY, of having football back though!!
Sadly, no match report (at the time of writing this) has been published by either, the game wasn’t filmed to my knowledge and the Stags’ tweets are very sparse (just goals and the line-up) – so I’ll do my best to act on memory – apologies for any inaccuracies!
The youthful Stags enjoyed the better of the ball in the opening ten minutes, but played on a zippy 3G surface thanks to the downpours earlier in the day, the pitch was always going to suit the hosts more – finally testing Own Mason in the Stags goal on 17 minutes, but failing to break the deadlock.
Mansfield had a number of half chances, again showing Clough’s intent to play fluid football through the midfield, with Ward, Sinclair, Law and trialist George Scott linking up well – eventually earning a free kick on 25 minutes, which Sinclair whipped around the wall and beyond the experienced Adam Collin in the Basford goal to open the scoring.
Six minutes later, Sinclair was fouled again, this time to the left of the area – and scored again, bending the ball up and over the wall into the top corner leaving Collin with no chance.
Jimmy Knowles turned provider with eight minutes remaining of the first half, played in down the right hand side, he fired across the face of goal for the impressive Nathan Caine to slide in at the far post and net another goal in his pre-season campaign.
Mansfield had a let off on the stroke of half time as a cross from the Basford right almost dipped in past Mason, however the ball ended the wrong side of the netting and out for a goal kick as the referee called a half to proceedings.
Basford started the second half the stronger and saw and effort blocked on 55 minutes, but it was the Stags who found the net again on the hour – Sinclair weaving his way through to put the ball across the box for Knowles, who turned home only to be denied by the offside flag.
End to end action then played out on 72 minutes, the Stags doing well to block a Basford effort at one end, countering down the other to force a save from the home keeper, firing the subsequent rebound over the bar.
The hosts missed a clear cut chance with twelve minutes to go, which proved to be the last real action of the game, with both sides making a number of changes introducing young players to the action to gain minutes and experience.
STAGS: Mason, J Clarke ©, Bowery, Cooper, Burke, Ward, Law, Scott [Trialist], Sinclair, Knowles, Caine Named Substitutes: Stech, O’Keeffe, Deakin, Anderson, Davies
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
Hull City 1-2 Mansfield Town | Pre-Season Friendly | Saturday 24th July 2021 | KCOM Stadium
From being awarded City of Culture status (yes, really!) in 2017, to Del Boy’s diamond smuggling capers in Fools and Horses, Hull has a fair few things to shout about – but on Saturday 24th July, two weeks before the 2021-22 season begins, Hull won’t want to shout about their 2-1 pre-season defeat at the hands of the Stags!
Striker Danny Johnson especially made the eyes of Stags fan widen at the prospect of things to come, whilst the positive counter attacking football made the £1.50 supporters had to pay for the privilege of crossing the Humber Bridge, worth it!
Johnson took both of his goals well, one from the penalty spot in the first half, the other a towering header in front of the Stags faithful in the second, and perhaps should have had more – but again he showed his quality on and off the ball as he continued to form a partnership with Oli Hawkins, with the pacey Rhys Oates in support.
Rather concerning was a lack of defensive cover for Clough who was forced to start Rawson, who played a good 65-70 minutes against Alfreton the previous night, with Elliott Hewitt forced to miss out with a bug. Clough had no defender on the bench other than James Clarke who’d played the full 90 the previous evening, and in the second half – played centre forward Bowery alongside Perch at the back.
The gaffer himself said we could do with, and are indeed speaking too, another defender for cover – I like to look of youngster Cooper who played against Alfreton, but would like to see his develop him rather than have him sat around as fourth or fifth choice, so let’s see if we can get someone else in, maybe even at the other end of the scale who can cover centre back, holding midfield and perhaps even full back.
As I’m sure I’ll talk about at length when the Podcast returns next week, I’m concerned that we have no permanent goalkeeper (that isn’t transfer listed) – and that on loan Manchester United man Nathan Bishop is yet to join us and form bonds with the back line. However, that opens the door for George Shelvey, the Nottingham Forest youngster was excellent between the sticks yesterday with a number of steady stops in the first half, and a tremendous double in the second. It’s not the quality, it’s worry that both could potentially be recalled in January and leave us without a paddle on that infamous creak!
I was impressed with our fluid counter attacking against Alfreton, and again yesterday – it’s obviously a big part of how Clough wishes to set-up – and with players like Quinn stretching the game, it can be very effective.
It’ll be interesting to see what Charsley and Lapslie can influence that as well going forwards when they return from knocks and if Sinclair and Law can continue to break in and impact – both are fantastic talents and will add real grit to our intentions to go out and hurt teams.
Coventry City are the visitors to the One Call Stadium on Tuesday as we return home for the first time since February 2020, a brand new squad, a brand new manager, a brand new style and a brand new journey – I hope we put in a similar display on what’s going to be a very emotional night!
The results don’t matter in pre-season, and Clough will continue to assess as he also has three other games after Coventry before the season starts – Nottingham Forest U23s behind closed doors on Saturday at the RH, plus a trip to Basford on Wednesday and Buxton too.
The latter was mentioned by Clough post Hull, and wasn’t part of the original pre-season schedule – a little googling tells me it’s Tuesday 3rd August, kick-off TBC and is billed as a Stags XI.
It’s all starting to come together, and it’s beautiful!
STAGS:  George Shelvey,  Kellan Gordon ( James Clarke 90+1),  Farrend Rawson ( Jordan Bowery HT),  James Perch,  Stephen McLaughlin ( Ryan Burke 88),  George Maris,  Ollie Clarke ©,  Stephen Quinn,  Rhys Oates ( Tyrese Sinclair 88),  Danny Johnson (Nathan Caine 91)  Oli Hawkins. UNUSED SUBS: Marek Stech
Alfreton Town 1-2 Mansfield Town | Pre-Season Friendly | Friday 23rd July 2021 | Impact Arena
As the season’s opener against Bristol Rovers edged ever closer, Nigel Clough continued to assess his squad – with a relatively youthful line-up coming from a goal down to beat Alfreton Town 2-1, thanks to goals from Nathan Caine and Tyrese Sinclair.
Clough gave a number of players who’d missed the first week of pre-season a run out, including Farrend Rawson, who skippered the side, Jordan Bowery and new left back Ryan Burke.
It was the Stags’ second game this week, after a 1-0 defeat at the hands of Grimsby Town was played behind closed doors at the RH Academy on Tuesday, but the first real time that cooler match conditions allowed supporters to get a taste of what Clough and his back room staff are trying to build.
It’s at this stage in pre-season where I expect things to ramp up a level, results of course still aren’t too important, but it’s pleasing to see two well taken goals and a win which is good for morale.
I was impressed with both full backs, James Clarke at right back I’ve always been impressed with and whilst I know he’ll very much be second or third choice, every time I watch him play I see what a potential he has which I really hope we harness – whilst on the other side, Burke, who signed a few weeks ago, looked comfortable going forward and dealt well with what the hosts threw at him.
One man I don’t know too much about is the centre half Cooper, I’ve seen him a few times time and he’s looked composed and vocal – up against Matt Rhead tonight he could have had a really tough game, but did OK and looked assured enough alongside the more experienced Rawson – certainly one to watch.
Elsewhere I felt our transition play was good, we perhaps should have been a little more ruthless – but it was nice to see some fluidity and good passages of play coming from our young midfield, which included trialist George Scott, who did OK sitting alongside Keaton Ward and Jason Law, with Sinclair just infront.
Apart from Rawson and possibly Sinclair and Bowery, the side tonight for me consisted of those “outside of Clough’s main eleven” – but I think there’s plenty of people knocking on the door and making it a very competitive squad which is very pleasing.
Tomorrow at Hull City will be interesting, I’m not expecting too much – but now the weather has dropped, I want to see us press a little more, play with a bit more pace and see the partnerships and bonds begin to form, before we head into the final week of pre-season, with fixtures against Coventry City, Basford United and Nottingham Forest U23s – the latter, behind closed doors at the RH Academy.
STAGS: Stech, J. Clarke, Rawson (Deakin 75’), Cooper, Burke (Anderson 60’), Ward, G. Scott, Law (O’Keeffe 46’), Sinclair, Bowery (Caine 75’), Knowles UNUSED SUBS: Mason, O. Clarke, Gordon
Matlock Town 1-0 Mansfield Town | Pre-Season Friendly | Friday 16th July 2021 | Causeway Lane
In any other circumstances, losing 1-0 at Matlock Town would cause uproar (OK, there may actually be a few that didn’t take it too well!) but given it was the Stags second pre-season game at the end of a tough week with pretty much 11/12 players unavailable – there’s no damage done.
OK if the result really does annoy you, just think about this – it was another day reforming old friendships, bathed in a warm evening sunshine in a beautiful setting – a simple thing a while ago felt impossible.
For one reason or another, plans had to be adapted – defender Rollin Menayese joined Walsall earlier than planned meaning that with every other central defender self-isolating, young right back James Clarke was moved into the middle, whilst injury to Jimmy Knowles during the warm up also meant that fully rotating (so that players could play 60/30) wasn’t an option.
I’d much rather have those situations happen in a nothing friendly than in a months’ time when the fixture schedule is a lot busier with a lot more at stake!
Naturally with the attack minded players we had out it is very disappointing not to score and tie the game, but most importantly players got minutes in the tank and new partnerships and phases of play were tested.
A prime example happened with Stephen Quinn rested after picking up a knock on Tuesday, George Lapslie was played at the bottom of the diamond in a more defensive role – something we’re not used to seeing, whilst new signing Rhys Oates played at the top of it, getting his first 45 minutes in the tank.
That’s exactly what pre-season is about really, testing formations, testing players, testing character – remember this is week one of fixtures, week two in total, there’s a long way to go, and a fair number of players to come back into the fold once isolation is over, and niggles have disappeared.
Still to return to the fold, Marek Stech [Transfer Listed], Jordan Bowery, Jason Law [Injury], George Maris, James Perch, Farrend Rawson, Josh Scott, Ryan Burke, George Shelvey and Nathan Bishop [Currently with Manchester United] – if you add those players in, even with two squads having 45 each, you’d expect us to be getting results, I certainly have no complaints with the 1-0 defeat.
There’s plenty more action to come next week with a behind closed doors game against Grimsby pencilled in for Tuesday, a Stags XI heading for Alfreton on Friday and a trip to Hull City on Saturday – perhaps if those self-isolating players are back in for Wednesday, we may see a slightly stronger XI at Alfreton, with Clough undoubtedly wanting to get players up to speed.
STAGS: Mason, Gordon (O'Keeffe 61'), J. Clarke, Hewitt, McLaughlin (Charles 61'), Charsley (Ward 51'), Lapslie (G. Scott 61' [Trialist]), O. Clarke ©, Oates (Sinclair 46), Hawkins (Cooper 61'), Johnson (Caine 61')
Retford United 1-9 Mansfield Town | Pre-Season Friendly | Tuesday 13th July 2021 | Cannon Park
I won't lie, I had a tear in my eye as I walked through the turnstiles and saw fellow fans starting to gather at Retford United last night.
It may well have been a pre-season friendly, a nothing game, but to me it was absolutely everything. Sixteen months of hell, over. Football was back!
Watching last season unfold from the sofa was excruciating, of course we tried to make the most of it with the Facebook live broadcasts and everything, but NOTHING will ever beat seeing people smile, laugh and pass the time of day all over one common cause – Mansfield Town Football Club.
Naturally the feelings and emotions will intensify over the coming weeks as we return to the One Call Stadium to face Coventry in a friendly, not to mention seeing actual league football again – travelling those endless miles on a Saturday, but – what a nice feeling it was to get out and reunite.
Nigel Clough has been busy trying to build a squad and re-grow the spirit after a few horrible seasons, it was nice to see the new faces in action and I certainly look forward to watching things unfold.
Naturally the 9-1 score line is very pleasing, it’s VERY early so I’m trying to avoid going into too much depth and get carried away, but what did please me is that even at the early stage, what Clough wants is being implemented – we play flowing football with hunger and intent, displayed not just in nine very good goals, but in the general play.
It was a little concerning that Clough was without nine players (apologies if I’ve got my maths wrong) – seven self-isolating, one injured in Law and the other (Stech) you can put into whatever category you want! However, I guess that (A) it’s good that it’s week two of pre-season and not the opening week, and (B) that the younger lads who got their opportunity gained vital minutes and experience.
There were several impressive performances, but I’m going to hold back on giving full thoughts until we’ve had a few games – it’s VERY hard to judge on one game against, and I mean no disrespect here, a side at the level of Retford – by which I mean with the quality we had on the pitch in attacking areas especially, goals were very much expected.
The Stags DID include a trialist, according to the official report/ team news by the name of G.Scott (I didn’t realise until after hence the confusion with Josh Scott [young striker] on my Twitter updates) – other than that the squad was strong, bolstered by younger lads due to those in self-isolation including young keeper Owen Mason who I thought was very vocal and unfortunate to not keep a clean sheet.
The line-up for those interested was as follows: Owen Mason, Kellan Gordon (J. Clarke 60'), Rollin Menayese (G. Scott 60' [TRIALIST]), Elliott Hewitt (Cooper 60'), Stephen McLaughlin (Charles 60'), Ollie Clarke © (Hill 60'), Stephen Quinn (Ward 44'), Harry Charsley (O'Keeffe 60'), George Lapslie (Sinclair 45'), Oli Hawkins (Knowles 60'), Danny Johnson (Caine 60')
A solid and pleasing 9-1 win in the end, well worth the 16-month wait – I can’t wait for more friendlies to follow now because if last night proved anything, it’s that Mansfield, really does matter!
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