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')
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