Craig Priest writes…
Mansfield Town won their first piece of silverware of the season last night as a brace from Ben Hutchinson, plus solitary strikes from Ross Dyer and trailist Jordan Ball saw Stags crowned Champions of the Green Energy Challenge Trophy, a new competition expected to be competed annually between the Stags and Rainworth MW.
It was a commanding performance from Stags, managed by first team coach Richard Cooper as boss Paul Cox and assistant Adam Murray went elsewhere continuing the hunt for a new striker. Seemingly Outcasts George Pilkington and Godfrey Poku both put in excellent displays whilst Chris Clements enjoyed another decent game in the centre of the park, however it was young defender Jason Gregory and hit man Ben Hutchinson that caught my eye the most, Hutchinson netting twice and setting another to earn man of the match whilst Gregory looked comfortable and assured at the heart of the Stags back four, causing problems for the visitors in both boxes.
Stags fielded three trailists in the starting eleven with at least two on the bench, right back Julian Kelly again played but only to get fit whilst Cooper, on behalf of Cox, cast his eye over 19 year old former Doncaster Rovers striker Jordan Ball and 26 year old attacking midfielder/ striker Calvin Andrew, whose career has included spells with Luton Town and Crystal Palace.
On the bench were a number of youth team players along with the seemingly unknown Lamar Powell and Chris Smith. Some research this morning shows that Powell, a 19 year old left sided forward, was formerly on the books of Bristol Rovers and Bath City, suffering an asthma attack on his Bath debut whilst its rumoured Chris Smith is over from Australia on trial. Stags also introduced a young goalkeeper late on, reports after the game also suggest his name was Smith, but at the time of writing I’m no clearer to knowing his first name or if he was a trialist etc.
Back to the match itself and Stags looked hungry to impress and weren’t afraid to get stuck in on an evening which was awash with sharp spells of torrential rain and, during the second half especially, constant flashes of vicious lightening.
Stags survived an early corner from the Wrens and soon began to bombard the Rainworth goal and were unlucky not to lead after two minutes as trialist Calvin Andrew flashed in a pacey cross from the left wing. Ross Dyer was on the end of it with a forceful effort which was well saved by James Martin in the home goal.
Hungry Mansfield had a mere three more minutes to wait until they grabbed the opener, a fine 1-2 between Andrew and Clements saw the former take the ball around the advancing Martin, the former Crystal Palace man lost his footing but had Ben Hutchinson on hand to drill home into the empty net to put Coopers Stags in the driving seat.
Mansfield looked fearless in there attack and the Wrens somehow survived numerous crosses from either flank before receiving a helping hand from the linesman on 18 minutes as he ruled out Andrew’s bullet header from a Hutchinson cross for offside after Clements’ initial corner picked out former Celtic man Hutchinson on the far right hand side.
Seven minutes later Stags did have a second as Ross Dyer powerful converted beneath Martin. It all stemmed from the half way line where Julian Kelly played a low pass into Hutchinson’s feet, a great spin from the hit man saw Wrens full back Damian Magee left behind and Hutchinson subsequently drilled the low cross into the middle for Dyer to convert, a good all round move from the Stags.
Godfrey Poku nearly had a belated birthday present on the half hour mark as his 30 yard left footed lightning bolt tested Martin who, two minutes later, was picking the ball out of the net again as Dyer this time sent Hutchinson racing into the box – the front man lashing into the back of the net with real venom to put Stags into a commanding three-nil lead.
Hutchinson came close to his hat-trick seconds after the restart after good link up play between Clements and Jordan Ball, however James Martin threw his body onto the ball after spilling the initial effort.
Rainworth were becoming sloppy as they attempted to play their way forwards from the back, on 37 minutes a sloppy error proved a costly one as former Doncaster Rovers man Jordan Ball pounced onto a mistake from Ricky Hanson, curling the ball into the back of the net via a deflection from James Martin – the shot was going in anyway.
At 4-0 up Mansfield weren’t resting on their laurels and continued in their quest for a 5th goal, Ben Hutchinson, Ross Dyer, Jordan Ball and Calvin Andrew all came close before the break but neither could quite find the finish they were looking for.
The second half was a more even affair although, possession and shots wise Stags were still in complete control. Hutchinson, Andrew and Clements all had further efforts in search of the Stags 5th goal but neither could find it, instead it was Rainworth that came closer, finally drawing Ian Deakin into action on the hour mark as Ricky Hanson, who pushed into midfield, hit one low from 25 yards.
Four minutes later Stags made their first change of the night as Andrew departed in place of another trialist, Lamar Powell, moments after his introduction he earned a free kick right on the edge of the D – Ben Hutchinson stepped up but curled over.
Centre back Jason Gregory then came close to getting on the Stags score sheet on 77 minutes with a rasping effort from the edge of the Wrens box, James Martin did well to palm the ball away and allow the hosts to soak up the danger.
Rainworth threatened to find a consolation late on however fine defensive work from Pilkington, captain Sutton and substitute Liam Marsden, ensured Stags’ clean sheet and ultimately, the first Green Energy Challenge Trophy title.
FULL TIME: Rainworth MW 0-4 Mansfield Town
STAGS: 33 Ian Deakin (1 ?? Smith 81), 3 Julian Kelly (15 Liam Marsden 84), 5 Ritchie Sutton ©, 6 Jason Gregory, 2 George Pilkington, 17 Ross Dyer (7 Jack Hawkins 84), 8 Chris Clements, 18 Godfrey Poku (14 Jack Thomas 83), 11 Calvin Andrew (12 Lamar Powell 64), 10/21 Ben Hutchinson (13 Chris Smith 77), 9 Jordan Ball (16 Joe Flint 77)
UNUSED SUBSTITUTES: Ben Birch, Jordan Vilums, Chris Spencer, Matt Jones, Trovan Damar-Thompson.
Referee: Steve Meredith
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