Craig Priest reports....
Fixture: Mansfield Town V Derby County
Competition: Pre-Season Friendly (#6)
Venue: One Call Stadium
Date & Time: Wednesday 25th July 2012 – 7.30pm
Attendance: 2956 (1030)
Match Referee: Andy Woolmer
Prior to the game at the One Call Stadium last night I said I just wanted to see an encouraging performance from the players on show, I think it’s safe to say we saw a little more than that.
A second half turnaround saw us run out 2-1 winners against two strong Derby County elevens on an evening that did test us but saw us pleasing stand firm to the Derby attack and improve our play when we we’re not in possessions.
There we’re very few, if any at all, negatives from the game and I know it will be very difficult to not get carried away this morning after watching that, let’s just put all the positives and the feelings that go with it into a little pot and keep them safe for the season – it’s not just physically energy that drives people on, it’s those positive memories you create, remember and thrive from.
Again we we’re left guessing the side that Paul Cox would field against Derby in what was their first outing of pre-season. However most guessed it would be those that didn’t play on Monday which is practically the same side as the Gainsborough trip with a few tweaks here and there.
Donning the new home strip complete with names and new squad numbers for the first time the Stags made a late arrival to the pitch after the visitors, led again by George Pilkington the Stags consisted of five of last season’s and six new faces, an entirely different back four from the one last seen at the One Call Stadium against York City.
Line Up [4-4-1-1] Alan Marriott – Lee Beevers – Luke Jones – George Pilkington (C) – Andy Owens – Ross Dyer – Chris Clements – Jamie Tolley – Lindon Meikle – Lee Stevenson – Matt Green
Substitutes: Shane Redmond, Ritchie Sutton, John Thompson, John Dempster, Louis Briscoe, Nick Wright, Anthony Howell, Matt Rhead Gary Roberts, Jamie Hand, Godfrey Poku, Andy Todd, Ben Hutchinson.
The visitors registered a lively start to the game getting their first shot in with less than a minute gone. Strong passing moving had Stags chasing shadows as Ben Davies and Theo Robinson linked up. It was the former who let fly, shooting narrowly wide from the edge of the box. Seconds later the Stags had their first foray into the visitor’s box as Matt Green headed wide Lee Beevers deep free kick.
The Stags then continued in a composed manor as they continued to threaten the Rams goal with two efforts in as many minutes. After Jamie Tolley’s dangerous free kick had been cleared it was George Pilkington began the pressure sequence inside the centre circle, the captaincy favourite turning Davies well before spreading a ball to the left hand side for the attacking full back Andy Owens. The former Southport man showed good stamina and strength up against Tom Naylor, the ex-Stag was beaten and Owens progressed inside, shooting over from the edge of the box. A minute later it was Lee Stevenson who intercepted former Coventry City skipper Richard Keogh’s clearance, Stevenson held on for long enough before threading Green to the left of the area, the dangerous hit man struck left footed and saw his shot nestle wide of Saul Deeney’s near post.
The Rams then responded with a double effort of their own with the game still in its infancy stages. Jeff Hendrick started a fine flowing move for the visitors after winning the ball from Chris Clements in the centre of the park, Theo Robinson then covered ground and outpaced Andy Owens. It was the Rams hit man that delivered a testing cross, Lee Beevers diverting the ball away for a corner after Jamie Ward made little attempt to connect with the teasing cross. Moments later Ward and Davies combined in the middle before the latter found the dangerous Robinson. Mansfield held a tight and high defensive line which forced Robinson to shoot from distance, his effort over Marriott’s bar but not by much.
A Jamie Tolley free kick following a foul on Meikle by Naylor was then cleared by the Championship side on 14 minutes a move in which allowed the Rams to counter. Despite the pace of the Championship starlets it was again George Pilkington who slammed clear. Three minutes later the fuel was back in Mansfield’s rocket as they canter forwards once more as Ross Dyer slotted Green through the middle, the danger cleared by Richard Keogh as the Stags looked ever more likely to score.
Alan Marriott then had to be at his best on 22 minutes as a forceful Derby passing move saw Theo Robinson threaded into the box by Ben Davies, Robinson finished top scorer with 12 goals for the Rams last term but failed to penetrate here as his low shot was well saved by the ever reliable Marriott. At the other end Ross Dyer caught everyone by surprise as he cut in front the right and shot narrowly wide from distance on 23 minutes before Lee Stevenson tested the water a minute later from the edge of the box after Meikle had weaved his way inside from the left channel.
The Stags had gone some four matches without conceding this pre-season and we all knew it would come to an end sooner rather than later, with 34 on the clock little clip by Lee Beevers on the advancing Ben Davies inside the box was enough for the referee to point to the spot. Theo Robinson stepped up to send Marriott the wrong way and give Derby the lead, the Stags lasting some 394 minutes without conceding since that starting whistle at Leamington.
Stags 0-1 Derby
The Stags responded immediately with two Jamie Tolley corners, Luke Jones caused havoc up from the back however the visitors somehow survived. The same couldn’t be said with five minutes to go before the break as the Stags again bossed the set plays. Jamie Tolley delivered well for Luke Jones who charged in and saw his free header pushed away for a second corner by Saul Deeney, the Rams failed to learn as they failed to pick Jones up a second time. At the back stick Jones thundered a header against the post, a snapshot six yards out then saw shouts of handball from both players, Jones was first to the second ball and bundled in only for his effort to be ruled out due to a handball from a Stags body, certainly a tight call.
Luke Jones was again involved with a minute to go before half time, this time it was Lee Beevers who delivered a free kick from deep, Jones out jumping his marker but heading narrowly wide before the half time whistle blew and the Rams headed into the dressing rooms with a one goal lead.
HALF TIME: Stags 0-1 Derby
The Rams changed their entire side at the break, Paul Cox opted for the one chance, Lee Stevenson headed off with a leg injury with Anthony Howell the man to replace him.
Howell was involved in the Stags’ first attack of the second half as Jamie Tolley delivered a free kick from the right with Howell heading narrowly over. Moments later it was Andy Owens driving forward, his left footed effort from the edge of the box sailed over substitute Rams keeper Mats Morch’s bar.
The Stags didn’t have to wait long for the next chance as they we’re the brighter of the two sides in the opening exchanges of the second period, it would be key to the games story too as the 51st minute effort brought Stags level. Matt Green chased down Jamie Tolley’s clipped ball forward and battled for play on the left channel. A neat little skip from him saw John Brayford beaten and Green race into the box. With the angle against him Green squared the ball into the middle for Ross Dyer, his shot cannoned up of the Derby man before the loose ball fell for Green, the talismanic hit man did the rest, converting from close range to level the match.
Stags 1-1 Derby
Moments after the restart it was again Green who was Stags’ livewire, chasing down another lofted pass this time down the right. His cross was heavy but was picked up by Clements who dropped onto the left, it was the former Hednesford man who then delivered, finding Ross Dyer at the near post, however his header was wide of the target.
John Thompson then entered the fray replacing Lee Beevers at right back to a rapturous round of applause, the Stags faithful delighted to see Thompson back in a Mansfield shirt after such a torrid season last term. Thompson, who skipper Monday’s 3-0 victory at Hucknall, stamped his authority straight away with a well timed sliding tackle on Paul Coutts who looked took exploit the left hand side.
Nathan Tyson registered a tame effort on 55 minutes before minutes later Lindon Meikle gave Mansfield the lead. Matt Green help up on the left before Meikle took over 25 from goal, a driving run from him saw Jake Buxton turned inside out and as Meikle broke into the box, he dinked a lovely effort over the keeper and into the back of the net.
Stags 2-1 Derby
From the restart Meikle again teased winning back possession before sending Green on his way, however the final pass this time was too forceful and the keeper collected.
Chances began to become few are far between however the Stags still controlled the game with Pilkington, Thompson and Jones all teaming up to keep former Nottingham Forest man Nathan Tyson and delightful prospect Mason Bennett quiet.
Alan Marriott was then alert on 67 minutes when Will Hughes and James Caton linked up well down the left; the latter’s driven cross collected by a brave Marriott with Tyson looking to nip in. Three minutes later Paul Cox withdrew Lindon Meikle, Chris Clements, Matt Green and Andy Owens – Louis Briscoe, Gary Roberts, Matt Rhead and Ritchie Sutton we’re the respective replacements.
With two minutes to go pressure from Matt Rhead saw the goalkeeper miss kick a clearance straight into the path of Tolley some 45 yards from goal. His curling effort was recovered by the keeper and wasn’t far off target. A minute later Alan Marriott held onto a stinging shot from James Caton, ensuring the Stags victory.
FULL TIME: Stags 2-1 Derby << Click here for extended highlights from Craig Priest, Scott Rogers & Steve Hartshorn
Click here for Wayne Briggs' audio of the night
Next up its Nottingham Forest on Saturday behind closed doors at the One Call Stadium, at the moment I’m still waiting to hear if we can cover the game or not – keep an eye on our facebook and twitter for confirmation when we get it.
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