Mansfield Town atoned for their disappointing defeat at Boston at the weekend by signing off pre-season with a resounding 5-0 thrashing of Gainsborough Trinity last night.
Richard Cooper took charge as Paul Cox headed to try and seal the deal with a striker, his first team coach watched on as effectively two sides delivered a strong attacking display which included an outstanding display of finishing, team work and determination from trialist Calvin Andrew who, after that display, I’d expect to sign in the next 48 hours.
Late on there were concerns for Martin Riley as he hobbled off with a dead leg after missing the last few games with an unrelated injury, however George Pilkington, Ryan Tafazolli and Ritchie Sutton all put in solid displays to reassure those who haven’t been too pleased with the defence over this pre-season.
Birmingham City man Eddy Gnahore also got a run out in the second half side and put in a comfortable attacking display whilst Lee Stevenson certainly looked sharp ahead of Saturday’s opening day trip to Scunthorpe United.
It was Stevenson who made an instant impression on the traveling Stags faithful, putting the ball into the net after just 55 seconds from Matt Rhead’s flick, however the attacking midfielders joy was short-lived as the offside flag was raised to rule out the quick opener.
Still level, Gainsborough then enjoyed a prolonged spell of pressure as Stags failed to get out of their own half. Alan Marriott was called into action on six minutes as Bradley Barraclough let fly from the edge of the box, three minutes later Marriott blocked another effort from Barraclough as he looked to turn in Dominic Roma’s right sided low cross.
Mansfield then burst the Trinity bubble on 13 minutes as the grabbed the opening goal. George Pilkington, playing right back, clipped forwards from half way and his ball found Louis Briscoe who was determined to rob Tom Ward of the ball on the edge of the D – after doing so Briscoe showed great power to get into the box and get a shot away, he eventually tucked home after Phil Barnes parried his first effort.
Stags came close to doubling their lead three minutes later as fluent play between Stevenson and Murray saw the latter feed Lindon Meikle into the box, his first time curler however wouldn’t stop rising and went behind for a goal kick.
Louis Briscoe soon turned goal scorer to provider on 25 minutes as Stags grabbed their second of the night, Adam Murray made the clipped cross to the head of Briscoe who, to the left of the box, cushioned the ball into the box for Lee Stevenson to thunderously hit home on the half volley.
A minute later Trinity wasted the chance to grab one back as Ex-Stag Ryan Williams swung in a cross from the left hand side, Mark Jones rose high above Riley but headed tamely wide of the Stags goal.
Mansfield had further efforts through Meikle, Stevenson, Murtagh and Briscoe but couldn’t find a third before half time, a half played out under a ferocious rain storm, Richard Cooper made nine changes leaving Martin Riley and skipper Adam Murray the only two first half players on the pitch.
The new side took a while to bed in and allowed Gainsborough scope for a way back into the match, Ryan Williams and Bradley Barraclough both came close but as soon as Stags found their rhythm, it was game over.
Mansfield’s third came on 54 minutes as Adam Murray looked to slot Jake Speight into the box, the hit man got the ball trapped under his feet but trialist Calvin Andrew was hot on his trail and collected the loose ball and subsequently drilled home into the bottom corner.
Moments later Stags threw everything at the hosts to get a fourth as Speight, Hutchinson, Dyer and Andrew all saw pin-ball like efforts blocked inside the area, despite the missed opportunity Stags soon struck again as Calvin Andrew increased his chance of a contract.
Ben Hutchinson helped create for Andrew on 61 minutes with a low central pass, Andrew latched onto it and cut inside full back Josh Wilde before curling home a beautiful 30 yard effort into the top corner, earning a standing ovation from the supporters.
Nine minutes later Andrew showed true professionalism as Stags added their killer fifth. Again latching onto a low pass Andrew had beaten his marker all ends up and could well have been inclined to charge into the box and score himself, however he looked up and unselfishly squared the ball for Hutchinson, who said thank-you by belting home from 20 yards.
Trinity saw a header from Jones ruled out for a foul on Deakin on 77 minutes before Jake Speight squandered two chances to add a sixth late on, the full time whistle wrapped up a resounding victory for Stags and sent them into the league two season with the confidence which was perhaps lacking a week or so ago – so that’s it, the warm up is over and now it’s time for the league two campaign to commence, bring it on!
FULL TIME: Gainsborough Trinity 0-5 Stags
Referee: David Sullivan
Stags [First Half]: Alan Marriott, George Pilkington, Martin Riley, John Dempster, James Jennings, Louis Briscoe, Adam Murray ©, Kieran Murtagh, Lindon Meikle, Lee Stevenson, Matt Rhead
Stags [Second Half]: Ian Deakin, Ritchie Sutton, Martin Riley (George Pilkington 86), Ryan Tafazolli, Paul Black, Eddy Gnahore, Adam Murray, Ross Dyer, Ben Hutchinson, Jake Speight, Calvin Andrew
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