Full Time Score Mansfield Town 2-1 Sheffield Wednesday
Competition Pre-Season Friendly
Venue The One Call Stadium, Mansfield
Stags Goal Scorers Mal Benning, Adam Reach (Own Goal)
Attendance 3,599 (1,517)
Craig Priest writes…
Mansfield town continued their positive pre-season with a 2-1 victory over Sheffield Wednesday in what ended in an ill-tempered brawl involving both sets of players.
A Mal Benning first half goal coupled with an own goal from Wednesday’s Adam Reach following excellent determination from CJ Hamilton was enough to bag the Stags another pre-season win, in a match which will wrongly not be remembered for Mansfield’s continued improvements – but for the mass brawl which, among others, saw Calum Butcher punched and skipper Krystian Pearce frog marched off of the One Call Stadium turf by boss David Flitcroft as tempers soured beyond boiling point.
The brawl will certainly be investigated by the FA and Police, it is not my place to speculate on what sparked the incidents however anyone with social media can easily find out!
I don’t want to sit here and write about who said what to who, or who punched who because at the end of the day none of it is relevant to Mansfield Town FC going into the new season. What is relevant, however, is the actions of Stags boss David Flitcroft who showed tremendous man management and leadership in storming onto the pitch and dragging Krystian Pearce through the melee single-handed and getting him off the pitch.
It’s clear that something was said to Pearce and he completely lost it, in dragging Pearce away from the situation and subbing him for Will Atkinson – Flitcroft has saved his captain, not from suspension which is important ON the pitch, but from something far more serious – sometimes it’s about protecting a human beings welfare, and for that I applaud Flitcroft’s excellent man management.
What should also be applauded is the work that Flitcroft and his back room staff have done since the full time whistle at the end of last season, the dressing room then seemed to lack energy, heart and the ability to manage a game – whereas now it’s a different story entirely and whilst pre-season means absolutely nothing results wise, I can’t help but see small embers of an inferno simmering away, ready to set this season alight.
No doubt I’ll talk about this far more over the coming days, but I wanted to see our mentality tested in terms of either going behind or being put under relentless pressure – alright the scenes at the end answered questions about our emotional mentality and togetherness, but I was certainly pleased to see how resilient we are becoming.
Unlike the Derby and Sheffield United match we didn’t control the game as much and actually (and somewhat ironically) it was quite scrappy in places and yet we still managed to carve out opportunities and take advantage.
Mal Benning’s opener a prime example of pushing high and pressing teams, and whilst CJ Hamilton’s run for the second goal had a bit of luck too it, it’s also pleasing – how many times have we seen a ball put down the channel go un-chased? It’s those extra bits of efforts which will prove the difference when it comes to the crunch.
I said on Sunday that I was unsure with the Bishop-Mellis combination, adding MacDonald into the mix does the trick as he covers the ground, we just need to ensure that players cover and drop in whilst others push on.
At times we did seem isolated going forward with Tyler Walker almost as a loan striker with Khan just behind and a lot of the time we were forced wide and closed off through the middle, our attitude to that is the most pleasing element as we were determined to find a way through and did, that’s the difference between teams who get promoted and teams who throw it away.
At the other end we were tested a little more and saw both Hayden White and Matt Preston taken off through injury as a precaution, there’s a week and a bit left to sign another defender on a permanent deal – I honestly don’t think I would, Lewis Gibbens is an emerging talent and has handled himself very well and wouldn’t look out of place, whilst Paul Digby’s professionalism has continued to show and between the duo – I think we’ve enough cover.
Some may question Hayden White playing right-side centre half, I think he suits it and has shown real improvement since Flitcroft’s arrival – the only area we really need cover is right-wing back as, as much as we love CJ, that’s not the position for him to be effective – perhaps there is a place there for Paul Anderson, who again wasn’t involved last night, presumably to get minutes against Hull in the behind closed doors match later today (Wednesday).
One more pre-season game to go and then the serious stuff begins – I can’t wait!
David Flitcroft made just the one change from the 0-0 draw with Sheffield United, the drought has taken its toll on training pitches and Craig Davies suffered a little knock during training as a result – Alex MacDonald took his place with Tyler Walker playing as the lone front man, with Khan just behind.
The Owls started well but couldn’t trouble the Stags with an early corner, Liam Palmer then tested the water on six minutes but his effort lacked conviction and was collected at ease by Logan.
Jacob Mellis won the Stags a free kick on the ten minute mark, but Otis Khan couldn’t keep his subsequent twenty-two yard effort down, five minutes later Mal Benning intercepted a Wednesday move but the stags couldn’t get forward in support in time before the Owls recovered.
A Neal Bishop volley and CJ Hamilton stretch followed for the Stags but it was the other end where the applause lay, as on 24 minutes Matt Preson made a sublime flying challenge at the feet of Nuhiu preventing a certain goal, the Wednesday man then nearly opened the scoring for the Stags as he tried to head Khan’s cross away – a fine stop from Cameron Dawson sparred his Blushes.
With five minutes to go before the break, the Stags pressed well and opened the scoring – a neat pass from Mellis picked out Khan in the box, his shot cannoned off an Owls defender into the path of CJ Hamilton, who found Benning – the left wing back thundered an effort in off the post to round off an excellent bit of play.
No changes were made at the break by David Flitcroft who perhaps had an eye on giving players more minutes in the friendly behind closed doors with Hull, inside the opening minute Tyler Walker was unlucky to drag an effort wide of the target.
Four minutes later the Owls should have been ahead as the Stags were caught napping down the Wednesday left – a neat cut back fell for Nuhiu who clattered the ball against the bar, much to the Stags relief.
On 67 minutes the Stags had a second, although it carried an element of luck. Alex MacDonald launched a brilliant ball over the top of the Wednesday back line which looked destined to go out for a goal-kick, however the pace and determination of CJ Hamilton saw the rapid winger keep the ball alive on the by-line and cut the ball back into the middle, Wednesday’s Adam Reach the unfortunate man to turn the ball into his own net.
Five minutes later Reach pulled one back venomously for the Owls, however the ball took a deflection off of Hayden White who was floured as a result, he was replaced by Digby as a precaution with the Stags winning 2-1.
With ten to go a triple substation took place before Tyler Walker had two chances to seal the game, first on 86 minutes the Nottingham Forest loanee dragged a shot wide, before being denied two minutes later by Dawson – Benning latched onto the loose ball, but fired wide, concluding the real footballing action before the twenty-man brawl.
FULL TIME: Stags 2-1 Sheffield Wednesday
STAGS: Conrad Logan, Hayden White (Paul Digby 76), Matt Preston (Lewis Gibbens 56), Krystain Pearce © (Will Atkinson 90), CJ Hamilton, Alex MacDonald (Omari Sterling-James 80), Neal Bishop, Jacob Mellis (Calum Butcher 80), Mal Benning, Otis Khan (Jordan Graham 80), Tyler Walker
Unused Subs: Bobby Oljenik, Lee Angol, Nyle Blake (Although Nyle wasn’t named on the team sheet)
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