Craig Priest reports....
Fixture: Mansfield Town V Nottingham Forest
Competition: Pre-Season Friendly (#7) BEHIND CLOSED DOORS
Venue: One Call Stadium
Date & Time: Saturday 28th July – 1pm
Match Referee: Unknown
You know the worst feeling in the world? No it’s not standing on a plug when you get out of bed or being smashed over the head with a pudgelstick by Shadow from Gladiators – it’s wanting something you can’t have. That feeling would have been strong for you yesterday as the majority all knew the Stags we’re playing host to Forest behind closed doors. I too feared that my 100% pre-season coverage record would be broken however thanks to the club, media we’re permitted to watch and broadcast on the game.
My aim with Mansfield Matters has never about getting my own name in lights, the sole aim has always been to keep fellow supporters updated and as close to the team we all love as possible, another reason my thanks is extended to the club for yesterday.
I have to admit it did feel strange arriving at the One Call Stadium yesterday, the gates locked on arrival to stop supporters trying to get a view of the match – it felt very celebrity party-ish ‘There’s nothing going on here, nothing to see’. Truth is there was. Yet another pre-season match yet another tough test for Paul Cox and his players against a reforming Nottingham Forest.
Again it was unknown what sort of side Paul Cox would put out following Wednesday’s 2-1 victory over Derby County, in the end six players remained from the midweek victory. John Thompson donned the skipper’s armband as he came in at right back and John Dempster in at centre back for Lee Beevers and George Pilkington respectively. Ross Dyer and Lindon Meikle moved up alongside Green as 4-4-1-1 was replaced by a 4-3-3, Gary Roberts, Jamie Hand and Anthony Howell made up the midfield replacing Jamie Tolley, Chris Clements and Lee Stevenson.
Line Up: Alan Marriott, John Thompson (C), Luke Jones, John Dempster, Andy Owens, Gary Roberts, Jamie Hand, Anthony Howell, Ross Dyer, Matt Green, Lindon Meikle.
Substitutes Named: Shane Redmond, Ritchie Sutton, George Pilkington, Louis Briscoe, Nick Wright, Chris Clements, Matt Rhead, Lee Beevers, Jamie Tolley, Godfrey Poku, Andy Todd, Ben Hutchinson, Lee Stevenson. Pablo Mills was NOT named on the team sheet but did appear in the second half, this is the same for a number of Forest trialists.
Despite Forest’s recent takeover and mass departure of players, new boss Sean O’Driscoll has already begun to strengthen, a number of his new additions meant it was a very strong Forest side the Stags faced in the first half, it was they who had the first real chance of the game despite Lee Camp having to leap high to collect an Andy Owens long throw with less than a minute played.
Ross Dyer was the guilty party in the aforementioned Forest chance as he gave the ball away with a sloppy pass with six minutes played. Frank Moussa picked up the loose ball and charged into the box with a dominant run, Alan Marriott read the situation well and got down low to parry away for a corner.
A minute later it was Marriott’s opposite number Lee Camp who was called into action. Former Forest man and Stags Skipper for the afternoon John Thompson started the move by chipping a ball down the right channel for Matt Green to run onto. Green did well to battle against former Stag loanee Kieron Freeman before delivering a delightful cross into the middle. The on rushing Anthony Howell controlled well on the penalty spot before swivelling Danny Collins and smashing a left footed effort towards the top corner – Lee Camp was at full stretch to push the ball around the post for the Stags first corner of the afternoon.
John Dempster remained strong to clear at the last as Forest broke away on 11 minutes however it was again the Stags that came within a whisker of opening the scoring three minutes later. Lindon Meikle, who scored Stags’ winner against Derby on Wednesday, was the main creator as he drove forwards, cutting inside from the left flank. From just inside the box in almost the same spot as Wednesday, Meikle let fly and saw his shot take the faintest of touches from the glove of Lee Camp and onto the post. The ball cannoned back out but couldn’t be turned in by Green who was bundled over, the ball did however fall for Ross Dyer who had an open net but failed to keep his effort down, firing over the bar from ten yards.
Ross Dyer then looked to redeem himself with some cleaver hold up work, however the Stags failed to punish as Forest cleared Gary Roberts teasing cross on 16 minutes. Dyer was involved again two minutes later as he flicked on Alan Marriott’s long ball, Matt Green raced onto it but was stopped in his track by the presence of the offside flag.
On 26 minutes the Stags entertained and pressured with a series of consecutive corners. It all started from a deep Jamie Hand free kick from the right hand side, Lindon Meikle the initial tormentor in the box to earn the first of four Stags corers. The first taken by Hand saw Luke Jones unmarked and head narrowly over, Matt Green picked up possession from the resulting goal kick and drove forward to earn another corner. Hand again delivered and this time it ran to the edge of the box for Roberts. The tough tackling midfielder let fly on the volley with the ball cannoning off Collins for another corner. Jamie Hand again delivered from the right for Meikle who saw his cross back into the mix headed away for a throw. Andy Owens found Meikle who, from the edge of the box, cut onto his left foot and again earned a corner, Greg Halford making the block. The pressure the Stags had previously applied went astray and Forest cleared with ease, having already been booked Gary Roberts was very fortunate to remain on the pitch after a very late and tough tackle on the cantering Andy Reid. The referee called skipper Thompson over to calm a fiery Roberts down, the actions of Roberts perhaps contributed to his half time withdrawal, a league match he’d have been off.
A forest corner came to nothing on 31 minutes and moments later it was again the stags who threatened. Alan Marriott’s ball forward found its way to Thompson on the right hand side of midfield; he turned inside Jonathan Greening before picking out Anthony Howell. The Stags midfielder set himself for a left footed effort from 25 yards, the final shot deflecting away from goal and away for another Jamie Hand corner from which Lindon Meikle again forced Camp into action, the Forest shot stopper getting down low to keep out the driven cross.
With four minutes of the first half remaining it was Forest’s turn to threaten from a corner. A cheeky delivery to the edge of the box caught the Stags off guard and napping. As the ball came back in, Forest’s Marcus Tudgay suddenly found himself 1 v 1 with Marriott. The former Derby County striker hit a ferocious volley only to be denied by Marriott who made a fine double save to keep the scores level.
Three minutes later it was Cox’s side that again came close. Anthony Howell earned a free kick after good passing movement between himself, Roberts and Hand. The latter delivered the set piece which Howell flicked on into the path of Jones who was somehow denied by a blinded Lee Camp. The resulting corner fizzling out and the half time break called.
HALF TIME: Stags 0-0 Forest
Paul Cox made two changes at the break withdrawing the feisty Roberts for Clements and replacing Marriott with Redmond as the two shot stoppers continue to get an equal share of the pre-season minutes. The introduced Stags subs we’re both in action in the opening two minutes of the second half.
Twenty-five seconds into the second half Howell and Clements played a delightful one-two pass which saw Howell tripped on the edge of the box. Chris Clements stepped up with the free kick but saw his thunderous set piece hammered off a Forest body. Seconds later Redmond raced off his line and blocked with his chest as David McGoldrick beat the offside trap and race through the Stags back line.
The opening exchanges had told the privileged few watching that a goal was just around the corner, on 48 minutes the first goal did arrive and predictably it was the Stags who got it. John Thompson swung in a fine cross from deep just over the half way line, Ross Dyer made a superb assist heading the cross strongly across the box where Anthony Howell broke free to tuck beyond Karl Darlow.
Stags 1-0 Forest
Four minutes after the restart the Stags should have doubled their lead with another fine flowing move which again started on the left with Lindon Meikle. The flying winger picked up play and cut inside Freeman who was moved to right back for the second half, Meikle put a testing cross in for Ross Dyer who ghosted in unchallenged but fired powerfully into the side netting.
At the other end Redmond again denied McGoldrick with a low save, the Irish shot stopper could do nothing on 56 minutes as Ismael Miller broke free. The former West Brom hit man drove into space before unleashing an unstoppable left footed effort into the top corner of Redmond’s net, a wonderful goal.
Stags 1-1 Forest
Jamie Hand and Chris Clements then combined in the middle to feed Green into the box as Stags searched for a response. Despite a clever little turn Karl Darlow was on hand to collect the loose ball before Paul Cox made three changes on the hour mark. Matt Green, Lindon Meikle and Ross Dyer were replaced by Matt Rhead, Louis Briscoe and Nick Wright restrictively, the latter putting the Stags back into the lead with his first touch on 62 minutes.
It was Jamie Hand that made the goal with a suburb reverse chip over the Forest defence; Nick Wright held his run to drop off the shoulder of his mark, latching onto the bouncing ball and smashing into the roof of the net on the half volley.
Stags 2-1 Forest
With the celebrations taking place Luke Jones made a silent exit to be replaced by Pablo Mills, still training with the club as he searches for a new employer following his release from Crawley. It was Mills’ former team mate Dempster in action next though as he cleared a testing Forest cross from Miller on 67 minutes as he broke down the right hand side
Andy Owens, Anthony Howell and Jamie Hand then made way for Ritchie Sutton, Ben Hutchinson and Godfrey Poku for the remaining twenty minutes. Hutchinson saw an effort blocked before David McGoldrick fired narrowly wide, cutting inside from the left two minutes later.
Another McGoldrick run with ten remaining nearly dragged Forest level, John Dempster on hand to divert away for a corner from which Jamal Cascelles headed away. Again it was again at the other end where the late action took place; Matt Rhead latched onto Briscoe’s pass and saw a thunderous effort palmed away by Forest’s third keeper of the afternoon, Khalid Al Rashidi. Rashidi then got down to clock Ritchie Sutton’s effort as the left back gained ground to received Briscoe’s central pass.
With Six remaining it was again pressure applied by Stags, Chris Clements lofted in a free kick, Nick Wright rose at the ear post and saw his header fumbled by the keeper. Pablo Mills was first too it but the keeper recovered to keep out Mills’ effort.
Moments later it was Forest attacking strongly down the flanks with Miller dragging a shot wide of Redmond’s post, the hit man unable to level for a second time in the match ensuring the Stags ran out 2-1 winners.
FULL TIME: Stags 2-1 Forest << click here for highlights of the game
It was yet another good run out for the Stags who we’re tested in a more physical way, having to go long spells without the ball and keep their shape to avoid conceding, something which will stand the boys in good stead for the forthcoming campaign which ebbs ever closer.
In what is now the final week of our pre-season preparations things again get busy as the Stags split their squad in two this Tuesday, one side heads for Eastwood and the other to Stourbridge – we’re hopeful to have someone at both games to keep you to date as we have done throughout pre-season. On Wednesday everyone’s back together again as it’s a trip to Rainworth MW – On Friday it’s the re-arranged Boston United trip before the final pre-season run out against Rotherham United at the One Call Stadium. See our MM-Live page for coverage details.
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