Mark Plumb writes...
Mansfield Town welcomed Premier League hopefuls Middlesbrough at One Call Stadium, as part of their preseason preparations ahead of the new season.
It was another good test for the Stags with tougher opposition but mostly importantly getting minutes on their belts. Their was no Assomlabonga in the team for Middlesbrough though, much to the disappointment for anyone wanting to see the £15m man.
The Stags got off to a good start by pressing the championship side high up the pitch forcing Konstantopolous into saves early on from Sterling James and Lee Angol. The backline of Taft and Diamond in coped well under pressure, not to mention White and Benning who rose well to the challenge.
It paid off when the Stags was awarded a free kick,when Byrom whipped in a ball out to Benning, who whipped a good ball into the box and the unfortunate Johnny Howson scuffed his clearance into his own net to make it a deserved 1-0 lead to the home side. Shortly afterwards the Stags doubled their lead with a defence splitting pass in from Paul Digby who found Lee Angol with a cool finish to make it 2-0 to Steve Evans men.
The deficit got pulled back with a ball over to the top to Mikael Sisako whos persistence got his just rewards as he ran into the box, whose shot was an absolute net buster, no chance for any keeper to save to make the score 2-1.
The goal gave Gary Monks men confidence and tested Bobby Ojenik, which drew some impressive stops from the former Exeter City man, who did himself no harm in impressing Steve Evans. He could do nothing from the equaliser from a corner quick where Daniel Feoy rose well to bring the score level 2-2, much to some questionable defending.
The second half Boro enjoyed a lion share of possession throughout the half but the Stags showed they could compete and was great at hitting them on the counter with Paul Digby who was the interceptor of their attacks and had played well alongside Paul Anderson in midfield.
Sterling James caused problems for them all game, running at them and putting in some good balls into the box, along with Angol who tracked back well and brought others into play working hard for the team. Jack Thomas also got run out for the last part of the game, hoping to be apart of Steve Evans plans going forward with a point to prove.
Jordan Slew also got a chance to impress with Evans, who played the night before against Stocksbridge the night before showing why he should be given a contract with the Stags. Overall another good workout for Mansfield against another tougher opposition, hoping to mount a promotion challenge of their own.
Their was a number of good displays out their, that will no doubt give manager Steve Evans a good headache to have ahead of the new season. Another big test will be against Nottingham Forest, that will give the former Leeds man a fair idea of who will start against Crewe. Up The Stags !!
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