Craig Priest Reports....
Fixture: Boston United V Mansfield Town
Competition: Pre-Season Friendly (Game #11)
Venue: The Jakemans Stadium
Date & Time: Friday 3rd August – 7.45pm
Match Referee: Steve Ross
With a squad of 30 players at Mansfield Town FC, boss Paul Cox has used pre-season to cast his eye over every player as they all aim for a place in next Saturday’s starting eleven against Newport County. Despite the match being just around the corner the Stags boss is keen to get more games in to asses each player, kick off a tight weekend of football on Friday evening with a trip to BSBN opposition Boston United.
As mentioned in the double match preview on Thursday, both Boston and Rotherham (Saturday’s opponents) play in a similar fashion to Newport County and the two games would be a good indication as to who best suits a starting role against the welsh outfit.
Watching from behind the goal at the Jakemans Stadium always seems a strange prospect and despite the awkwardness of trying to commentate from a game from a different angle, the view point is actually a good one as you get opportunity to see how the side moves during different phases of play, helping to give a more 3D picture of the strengths and weakness, on the whole I was impressed with those that played.
Matt Thornhill, the latest of Stags trialists, during his Nottingham Forest days
After seeing the team sheet over both games (Rotherham report to follow) it’s difficult to see which side is the stronger and which will be the reserves, against Boston Cox named a very strong side of which a fair proportion would walk into any team in both the BSBP and League Two. Jake Speight was set to make his first appereance of pre-season following a light injury, defender Pablo Mills got another run out whilst Cox revealed that attacking midfielder Matt Thornhill was also on trial, he one of only four substitutes.
LINE UP [4-2-3-1]: Shane Redmond, Ritchie Sutton, Pablo Mills, John Dempster, Andy Todd, Jamie Hand (C), Godfrey Poku, Ben Hutchinson, Louis Briscoe, Nick Wright, Jake Speight.
Substitutes: Scott Rogers, Jobe Shaw, Adam Somes, Matt Thornhill.
It was a rather drab start at the Jakeman’s stadium with neither side seeming interested in the opening five minutes, however two minutes later Jake Speight soon put to that to pass as he clipped the crossbar following a quick break away from a Boston corner. Shane Redmond was the initial hero as he pulled off a fine save to deny Matt Wilson following Ian Ross’ delivery. Redmond began the move by throwing the ball to Pablo Mills who then found Nick Wright on the half way line, it was his delightful long range pass that sent deadly hit man Speight on his way down the left channel. Racing to the ball with home keeper Dan Haystead, the former Wrexham man connected first curling the ball around the Pilgrims shot stopper seeing his final shot cannon off the cross bar and away for a goal kick.
It was the Stags looking the livelier as a series of Jamie Hand free kicks had the hosts on the back foot, Louis Briscoe also drilled wide with fifteen gone. At the other end it was Redmond again who kept out a hopeful shot from United’s Matt Wilson after Connor Marshall had crossed from the right, despite United testing Redmond it was the Stags who remained in control and finally broke the deadlock on 24 minutes.
Ritchie Sutton started the move with a ball down the right channel for Ben Hutchinson who slotted Nick Wright into the area. The former Kidderminster target man raced around the keeper before tucking neatly into the bottom corner of the net for his third strike of pre-season.
Boston 0-1 Stags
Two minutes later it was intricate work again as Shane Redmond’s goal kick found its way to Hutchinson who, playing in an attacking midfield role, flicked the ball to goal scorer Wright. The big front man found his path blocked but Louis Briscoe picked up the second ball, threading Speight into the box with a first time pass. The finish was a credit to the pass; Speight took one look before firing underneath the onrushing Dan Haystead to double Mansfield’s lead.
Boston 0-2 Stags
Goal scorers Wright and Speight caused havoc on the half hour mark as interchanging passing saw Boston scramble clear at the last second; six minutes later it was Redmond in action as Boston’s Conor Marshall again delivered from the right.
Redmond remained untroubled until the break as the Stags took a two goal lead into the dressing room.
HALF TIME: Boston 0-2 Stags
It was the hosts who enjoyed the better of the second half and injcted some life into their play as they grabbed one back on 47 minutes, Boston substitute Ben Milnes drilled home a wonderful effort from the edge of the box as a sluggish backline were undone down the left hand side.
Boston 1-2 Stags
With Boston having reduced the deficit they picked up the pace as they searched for an equaliser, last ditch challenges from Todd, Mills and Dempster respectively kept the hosts at bay.
On the hour mark it was Nick Wright who came within a whisker of restoring the two goal cushion as John Dempster sparked a fine move. The calm defender cantered over the half way line before spraying the ball to the left for Hutchinson who then played a strong pass into the box for Wright. The hit man failed to add another goal to his tally however, as the ball skidded wide of the target.
Trialist Matt Thornhill was then introduced for Wright; it was he who got a foot to ball with eight minutes remaining. Pablo Mills nipped in to send the loose ball forward to Speight who curled narrowly wide from 25 yards.
It was to be Speight’s last action as he was replaced by Youth team graduate Adam Somes for the final five minutes however Somes saw little of the action as Boston pushed for a late leveller. With two minutes remaining Shane Redmond denied Marc Newsham from close range after Ian Ross had weaved down the right hand side to feed his team mate into the box. Redmond saved the goal bound shot with his legs before Dempster removed the final danger, the Stags only too happy to hear the full time whistle as the hosts shaded the second period and had Cox’s side on the back foot.
FULL TIME: Boston 1-2 Stags
The Stags we’re tested by a quick Boston side who looked very sharp having switched formation from a 4-4-2 to a 4-3-3 in the second half. The Pilgrims played some quick football and made Stags put in a defensive ship and teaching them that they couldn’t have everything their own way.
The workout was a very beneficial one with many individuals having good solid games, Jamie Hand took on the captaincy and flourished in the role having a more calm and composed game, the responsibility of leading the side had a positive effect on him. Pablo Mills who continues to train with the Stags controlled the back line well with Nick Wright and Jake Speight up front in a forward three both having excellent games. Speight looked sharp and took his goal well and also saw an early effort ruled out for offside whilst Wright held up play well and had opponents in a tizz, playing a key part in Speight’s goal, he could prove a handful for teams this year.
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