Craig Priest Reports....
Fixture: Sheffield FC V Mansfield Town
Competition: Pre-Season Friendly (Game #13)
Venue: The BT Business Stadium (Coach & Horses Ground)
Date & Time: Tuesday 7th August 2012 – 7.30pm
Match Referee: C. Grundy
Attendance: 1300 (253)
I have to admit I’ve been struggling to think of a way to describe last night’s game other than the obvious cliché it was a ‘game of two halves’. The first the Stags we’re dominant and had Boxer Curtis Woodhouse’s side well and truly on the ropes, the second was a different bout altogether, the second half performance a shadow of the first.
The question is, does it matter – after all the game last night was about getting some minutes under the belts of those not to feature as much. The answer is of course it does, football’s football, I’m sure Paul Cox will take both the negatives and positives from last night’s 5-4 victory, a game which provided great entertainment.
One negative for Cox will be the fact that around four trialists failed to report to the ground and participate in the game, the Stags boss was left with only three substitutes and seriously considering the possibility of either pulling some boots on himself or finding me some! His quote when I asked for the team unrepeatable bar ‘If I haven’t sorted a side out in five, you’d better start warming up!’ – Now that would have been a story to tell!
Team news did eventually arrive and despite resources being stretched, it was still a strong side on show last night. The formation was flexible to say the least with Andy Todd and Jake Green alternating between wing back and wide midfield roles.
Line Up: Shane Redmond, Jobe Shaw, John Dempster (C), Pablo Mills, Andy Todd, Jamie Hand, Gary Roberts, Jake Green, Chris Clements, Ben Hutchinson, Jake Speight
Substitutes: Adam Somes, Scott Rogers, A Trialist (unnamed)
The Stags we’re quick to grab the advantage against the Dronfield based side, known for being the oldest club in the world. It took just three minutes for the opener to arrive although there was an element of luck involved. Jake Green’s left sided throw was collected by Gary Roberts who showed that trademark vision and then delivery to pick out the perfect ball for the arriving Andy Todd, the reserve team boss unmarked at the back stick to connect sweetly on the volley. The initial effort was off target but deflected off the face of a backtracking Sheffield man to take the ball into the top corner.
Sheffield FC 0-1 Stags
Seven minutes later Shane Redmond was alert at the far end to keep out a stray Sheffield shot but it was again the Stags who surged forward and doubled their lead with eleven on the clock, Gary Roberts again instrumental. The creative midfielder chipped delightfully over the home midfield from the half way line with the ball landing like metal to magnet in-between where Speight muscled his way in. The lively striker swivelled on the ball leaving the hosts in a tizz before smashing into the top corner with his left foot.
Sheffield FC 0-2 Stags
The Stags showed no sign of taking their foot off the gas and came agonisingly close to a third goal with 15 gone. Jake Green showed the creativity of his brother down the left before picking out a pass to Jamie Hand on the edge of the box. The tough tackling midfielder smashed an effort towards goal which home keeper Nicky Draper could only palm into the path of Speight who hooked over from close range.
Fifteen minute the Stags did grab a third as again the keeper could only parry a shot. John Dempster started the move driving forward from the back before Hutchinson and Clements combined, the former blasting an effort at goal from 20 yards before the later tucked home the rebound from six yards as Draper comically fumbled.
Sheffield FC 0-3 Stags
Mansfield’s three goal lead was then cut within two minutes of the restart as Sheffield, who’d troubled Redmond only once, grabbed one back as a now over confident Stags left far too much space at the back. Matt Roney played the pass from central to wide left picking out Ash Worsfold who tucked beyond the onrushing Shane Redmond.
Sheffield FC 1-3 Stags
Spurred on by the goal, the hosts then stepped up their play and had the Stags defending for a prolonged spell, Shane Redmond did well on 36 to keep out a swirling Sheffield effort as they looked to reduce the deficit. The Stags soon woke up and restored their level of comfort, netting twice more before the break.
With four minutes to go before the break Jake Speight added his second of the night, Ben Hutchinson dropped deep to pick up possession and sent the ball to Roberts on the half way line, again he created without batting an eyelid, sending a ball splitting through the middle for Jake Speight. The pacey hit man latched onto it, taking the ball away from his back tracking markers before coolly slotting home.
Sheffield FC 1-4 Stags
The Stags hit man then turned down the chance of a hat trick as he turned provider two minutes later for the Stags fifth of the night. Andy Todd clipped a ball forward which Hutchinson headed onto the flank for Speight to chase, the lively striker drove forward and unselfishly squared across the six yard box for Hutchinson who stroke home effortlessly.
Sheffield FC 1-5 Stags
It’s fair to say that in the first half the world’s oldest club we’re taking a pasting from the Stags, Roberts’ passing and Speight’s movement a joy to watch. It was looking like the Stags we’re comfortable but with a boxer at the helm of the hosts, you just knew that in the second half there would be a fight... and I’m not talking about a Jamie Hand tackle!
HALF TIME: Sheffield FC 1-5 Stags
The opening exchanges of the second period offered little, I did for one second think the Stags side had been replaced by body doubles as the performance in comparison to the first half was lacklustre, only a narrowly wide Jake Speight drive from a Hand lay-off reassured me there was still some live left!
Shane Redmond was very busy between the sticks and pulled off an excellent save from Jordan Stevens as he let fly from the edge of the box on 58minutes, the same couldn’t be said a minute later however as Stevens restored some hope for the world’s oldest club, bundling home from close range.
Sheffield FC 2-5 Stags
Chris Clements then made a brief departure on the hour mark as he was replaced by the trialist who did show up, only thing is he forgot his name badge. The unknown man who moved upfront alongside Speight registered his first shot on 67, driving down the right and firing wide.
Two minutes later the hosts again found the net, Ellis Wall slotting underneath Redmond as a dominant run down the right from Ben Turner saw the Stags calved open.
Sheffield FC 3-5 Stags
It was again the hosts that troubled as they kept ploughing away for another goal, Substitute James Knowles fired over the bar on 72 minutes before Jobe Shaw made a splendid sliding intervention two minutes later to stop the advancing Shaq McKenzie.
Scott Rogers then replaced Jake Green with Chris Clements returning to the action for Jamie Hand for the remaining 13 minutes. The duo assured things and things finally looked calm that was until the 85th minute when Sheffield set up a tense finish, adding a fourth. Shaq McKenzie was the creator with a fine chip into the box from the left hand side, James Knowles left Redmond with no chance as he thundered home from the back post.
Sheffield FC 4-5 Stags
Adam Somes replaced Jake Speight for the remainder of the match but saw little of the action as it was again Shane Redmond the most busy, he produced a fine save tipping away to his right with seconds left to play as the hosts pushed for a leveller, the full time whistle a relief for the Stags!
FULL TIME: Sheffield FC 4-5 Stags
The goal fuelled match was certainly entertaining to watch, am I worried they’ll be a repeat of the second half switch off – NO, bring on Newport!!
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