Full Time ScoreMansfield Town 2-0 Notts County
Competition Sky Bet League Two (Matt Salmon Trophy)
Venue One Call Stadium
Stags Goal Scorer(s) CJ Hamilton (2)
Attendance 6,604 (1,140)
Craig Priest writes…
After a below par cup exit in midweek, the Stags needed to step-up their game as they welcomed rivals Notts County for the start of a brand new era for the Magpies, that’s exactly what happened as lightening struck twice – to ensure a new error at Notts County had begun.
David Flitcroft was hurt by the midweek exit and wasted no time in putting things right with a thoroughly professional display from his players to ride an early County storm and then control the game to silence their relegation troubled neighbors.
CJ Hamilton naturally takes the plaudits with two goals and to be fair, totally deserves them, the work his has put in and the attitude he has shown to develop under Flitcroft has turned him into a real asset who is capable of playing anywhere, yet currently as an out and out front man is giving teams headaches.
Notable mentions go to Pearce and Benning who being the clubs longest serving players know exactly what the fixture means and put in a fitting display, whilst Neal Bishop knew too from the other side of the fence, but didn’t let his past dictate his present and future, with another phenomenal display in the middle.
The whole team spirit is unreal and to be in December having been beaten just once in the league is a real achievement, despite the early draws and lack of fire power it shows we are a real force as a unit who, like a fine wine, seemingly get better with age and time.
We are the hardest team to beat in the league right now with just one loss (and one of three teams in the Football League to have lost just once), which is a record to be proud of – a lot of that comes from being patient and resilient from the back with the second best defence (only by one goal to leader MK Dons) in the league.
Flitcroft has built a tight family unit who are really buying into what we are doing, our core is far stronger than where we were a year ago and as we head into the festive set of fixtures and move towards the next transfer window, we are making real progress to where we dream of being.
The Stags boss may have missed out on manager of the month, but we don’t need accolades yet – we need to be focussed and prepared, and IF we get our recruitment right in January, the rewards WILL come. Recruitment is a BIG thing for us and I’ve no doubt that Flitcroft will get it right however that is another story for another day – let’s enjoy the derby day victory and keep our focus on the bigger picture, starting with a trip to Forest Green next weekend getting back to back victories and like our CJ, prove that lightening, really does strike twice.
There were only a few minor tweaks from midweek as Flitcroft switched keepers, and also brought Elsnik into midfield for Khan, whilst Hamilton replaced Rose to lead the front line.
Notts County under new management were keen to show their new boss they were up for the fight and had early chances to open the scoring, a combination of solid Stags defending and a smart save from Olejnik kept the Magpies at bay, before at the other end on 14 minutes, it was County who were throwing themselves at shots, as Mal Benning pounced on a poor clearance from Ross Fitzsimons – his long range curler cleared off the line.
Hamilton, Walker and Benning all saw further efforts go a miss before Olejnik again pulled off a good save at the other end.
Former Notts man Bishop nearly came back to haunt his former side with ten minutes to go before the break, he was denied by the legs of Fitzsimons before the Notts County glovesman denied Walker.
Olejnik was then involved as the pendulum swung again, he denied Will Patching before the Stags broke the deadlock with a fine flowing move on 37 minutes, CJ Hamilton the man converting – showing great pace to connect with Bennings’ pitch perfect cross.
After the break Mansfield searched for a second as Walker and Hamilton had a pop, the latter hitting the bar, Hayden white also struck the woodwork as his effort smashed against the post as the match approached the hour mark.
CJ Hamilton made it 2-0 on 63 minutes as quick feet saw him dance around the Magpies and turn home, Walker should have made it three just three minutes later as he punced on a Turley mistake, but dragged his effort wide.
Olejnik then had to be alert to keep out Elliott Ward but it was Mansfield who looked the most likely to get a third, Hamilton, Walker, White, Bishop and Substtiute Rose all had efforts, but Notts wouldn’t grant the Stags a third – the full time whistle sealing another derby day victory.
FULL TIME: Mansfield Town 2-0 Notts County
STAGS [3-4-3]: Bobby Olejnik, Matt Preston, Krystain Pearce ©, Ryan Sweeney, Hayden White, Jacob Mellis, Neal Bishop (Will Atkinson 90+2), Timi Elsnik (Otis Khan 81), Mal Benning, CJ Hamilton, Tyler Walker (Danny Rose 86)
Unused Subs: Conrad Logan, Calum Butcher, Jason Law, Jordan Graham
Referee: Jeremy Simpson
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