Sascha Studer put in another man of the match display yesterday afternoon as Mansfield completed their pre-season programme with a goalless draw against League One Walsall.
The swiss goalkeeper came to the Stags aid on a number of occasions against the league one outfit, ensuring Stags ended what has been an extremely positive pre-season campaign on a strong note, leaving Paul Cox with little worries ahead of next weekend’s league two opener with Northampton Town.
Whilst the Stags defence we’re asked questions of against Walsall, the attacking movement from Cox’s men looked bright and hungry – a draw a fair reflection on what was a tough test of standing firm and trying to find an opening, yesterday’s game the perfect example of those fixtures this forthcoming season which will be about ‘protecting the point’.
Paul Cox whittled down his Trialist list to just the one, with a deal for midfielder Anthony Griffth looking dead in the water due to budget, he was sent back to Port Vale whilst his ex-team mate Rob Taylor, continued his trial with a view to agreeing a deal ahead of next weekend’s curtain raiser should the budget allow.
The 29 year old has impressed having featured in every pre-season fixture for Stags predominantly in the left-wing back position. His addition could prove to be the most vital one heading into the season as he adds adaptability and can play anywhere, bringing with him a wealth of experience that includes promotion out of league two.
Cox also opted to have a look at his strength in depth and alternate options with Chris Clements favoured ahead of Fergus Bell just behind the front two, Liam Marsden also started ahead of Lee Beevers at right wing back whilst Alex Fisher and Liam Hearn were pared together upfront with Matt Rhead suspended for at least the first two games of the season.
The visitors looked to test the water early on as James Baxendale twice warmed the hands of Studer in the opening two minutes before Chris Clements couldn’t quite make the most of the Stags first corner of the game four minutes later.
Both sides then had a sight of goal with Webber seeing an effort held low by Studer for the visitors before hit-ma Liam Hearn saw a well hit effort also claimed low by Richard O’Donnell.
The Stags showed real intent on 23 minutes with the impressive Simon Heslop driving forward before threading a slick pass into the feet of Alex Fisher, the front man unselfishly looked to cut back to a ready to pounce Liam Hearn who was just beaten to ball by the back tracking Saddler’s defender Dean Holden.
Three minutes later it was again Baxendale causing problems, skipping beyond Murray and then leaving Tafazolli in his wake before hitting from twenty yards at Studer, the swiss glovesman palming away before issuing a firm warning to his defence which even the un-multi-lingual amongst the crowd could easily understand!
Studer twice more came to the Stags aid before the break whilst Ryan Tafazolli was unlucky to turn home Chis Clements’ 41st minutes corner at the far post, the sides headed into the break goalless.
Cox made three changes for the second half as Lee Beevers, Ollie Palmer and the returning from injury Sam Clucas replaced Marsden, Hearn and Clements respectively. What followed was a very bitty second half display as the two sides tasselled for possession but seldom found a way through – Studer again beating away a number of Walsall efforts whilst substitute Fergus Bell came closest to finding a late winner two minutes from time with a driving run which finished with the ball landing narrowly wide of the visitors goalmouth.
Stags: 1.Sascha Studer, 14.Ritchie Sutton (4.John Dempster 56), 3.Martin Riley, 6.Ryan Tafazolli, 17.Liam Marsden (18.Lee Beevers 45), 8.Adam Murray ©, 20.Simon Heslop (16.Jamie McGuire 68), 19.Rob Taylor [Trialist] (13.Amari’i Bell 66), 21.Chris Clements (11.Sam Clucas 45), 16.Alex Fisher (7.Fergus Bell 60), 10.Liam Hearn (9.Ollie Palmer 45)
Unused Substitutes: Matt Rhead, Jack Thomas
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