Craig Priest & Emily Sykes write…
Mansfield Town suffered from a case of jet lag tonight as they slumped to an unacceptable 4-1 defeat at the hands of Evo-Stick premier division side Worksop Town. Boss Paul Cox always stresses that results are not as important as gaining fitness, however he was a difficult figure to read in the fading evening light, giving us the feeling that the standard will rise in the coming weeks in terms of training and expectations.
Originally the intention was to play two sides however a behind closed doors friendly tomorrow daytime allowed Cox and his management team of Richard Cooper and John Ramshaw to have a more detailed look at the chosen players, Cox confirmed after the match that the youngsters will play Ollerton tomorrow evening and that keeper Ian Deakin, has signed a permanent deal.
On reflection Worksop deserve their victory, the tigers put in a confident performance and looked strong going forward – whilst this highlighted areas to work on and gave a negative score line for us, the evening did have a few positives. Firstly, Ross Dyer played 45 minutes for the first time publically at least since his horrific opening day injury last term, he looked sharp and with his famous freshly shaven head, reminded those watching what they’d been missing. Midfielder Keiran Murtagh had a slow start and took a while to adapt but in the second half began to command the game. The outcast Godfrey Poku played 45 minutes and impressed as did trialist Nathan Arnold who proved his critics, Craig included, wrong. Finally Paul Black was outstanding at left back and was our man of the match, his pace and delivery raised eyebrows and earned applause, he could quickly become a fans favourite.
Onto the match itself, Mansfield wore there away kit and got the match underway and registered their first chance on six minutes. Louis Briscoe was the provider from the right hand side, flicking the ball into the path of Ross Dyer. The much loved front man flicked the ball over a defenders head and hit a beautiful shot with his left boot narrowly over the bar from 14 yards.
At the other end new signing Ian Deakin was called into action as former Stag Conor Higginson was teed up by Jack Muldoon. Deakin got down low to save Higginson’s initial shot but he uncomfortably fumbled the effort, recovering reasonable well to stop Higginson having a second bite of the cherry.
The hosts were enjoying the pressure and called Deakin into action on sixteen minutes as Martin Riley was beaten in the air by the six foot eight front man Tom Denton, his flick saw Leon Mettam free in the area however the Tigers skipper hit straight at Deakin.
Ben Hutchinson saw a tame effort saved well by Ben Hallam following a strong through ball from Murtagh on twenty minutes however seconds later, poor defending cost Cox’s Champions as Phil Roe’s left sided cut back gifted Leon Mettam an easy tap in to open the scoring.
Mansfield’s attempts to respond were sparse and besides the best efforts of Meikle, Black & Murtagh, Stags headed into the dressing room losing by a goal to nil. At half time Cox made three changes withdrawing Briscoe, Dyer and Hutchinson for the outcast Godfrey Poku and trialists Nathan Arnold and Jordan Robertson, the latter formerly on the books of Sheffield United. Robertson, for the record, is a 25 year old striker whose spent time on loan at Torquay, Dundee and Northampton amongst others.
The front man linked up well with Nathan Arnold on 52 minutes and earned a Stags corner which the hosts cleared, three minutes later roles reversed as Robertson teed up Arnold, who fired wide.
On 58 minutes Murtagh began to shine on the edge of the box with fluid movement and a near perfect final product, his left footed curling effort was inches wide of the target. Three minutes later the pendulum swung to the other end as a route one ball cut Stags open and punished them – Riley again beaten by Tom Denton who advanced into the box, skipped round the advancing Deakin and stroked into the empty net.
Worksop substitute Jack Barnett nearly netted a pearly on 71 minutes as his 40 yard effort headed towards the top corner, Deakin looked unsettled as he fumbled the shot and struggled to bring it under control. Two minutes later a sublime run from Arnold earned Stags a corner from which they grabbed one back during the second phase of play, Murtagh’s cut back tapped in by trialist Jordan Robertson from close range.
The match phased out in terms of chances although for a good five minutes, Mansfield fought to get the score level, however in the 90th minute a comedy of horrors saw Worksop gifted a third as miscommunication between Deakin and Dempster saw the latter’s backwards header trickle into the empty net.
Seconds after the restart substitute Tom Mullen fired in the forth with a curling effort from 18 yards, the wide man was allowed far too much space to hit the shot which Deakin didn’t move for – professionalism for this goal, must have got lost with the bags at the airport.
The full time whistle soon followed, the final few minutes and the two poorly conceded goals certainly left a sour taste, however there’s plenty more matches to iron out the creases.
FULL TIME: Worksop 4-1 Mansfield
STAGS: Ian Deakin, Ritchie Sutton, John Dempster, Martin Riley, Paul Black, Louis Briscoe (Godfrey Poku HT), Adam Murray ©, Keiran Murtagh, Lindon Meikle (Evan Garnett [Trialist] 75), Ben Hutchinson (Jordan Robertson [Trialist] HT), Ross Dyer (Nathan Arnold [Trialist] HT). Unused substitutes: George Pilkington, Mitch Hanson [Trialist].
REFEREE: Mr D Tracey
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