Craig Priest looks ahead to tomorrow’s short trip to Watnall Road...
Another weekend over and the football season draws closer once more, not that Paul Cox and his players will see it that way as there are still plenty more warm up matches to come. After a gruelling past week (Saturday-Saturday) which has included four games, all be it one postponement, and high octane training sessions – the work continues as the Stags face three more teams over the next seven days, kicking off with a trip to Hucknall Town tomorrow night.
No doubt the highlight of the week will be the show down with championship Derby County on Wednesday, a night which see’s us return to the One Call since that heartbreaking now cursed day (May 7th) and the Rams first outing of pre-season. That said we shouldn’t write off tomorrow’s trip down the road to face Hucknall – yet another tough test.
There has been a number of positives for Paul Cox to mull over so far however he will be the first to admit there has been numerous notes made in the ‘to improve on’ section of his note book. I’ve no doubt that despite potential changes from the side which were held to a goalless draw at Gainsborough, Cox will be looking to the Hucknall game to iron out those creases before picking the strongest eleven to face higher division opponents in midweek. Having been relegated at the end of the 2010-11 campaign the Watnall Road outfit failed to bounce straight back, managing a stable mid table finish in the Northern Premier League Division One South last term under the management of former Tamworth boss Des Lyttle, who departed at the end of the season as the club searched for someone with more in-depth knowledge of the lower divisions.
Lyttle’s replacement Brett Marshall surprised everyone by leaving Retford United after guiding them to the league title in his first season in charge, however along with new Hucknall chairman Derek Blow it looks like the club will be giving promotion a real go this term and will want to match Cox’s Stags minute for minute, pass for pass.
The clubs are no strangers with numerous friendly’s down the years, each encounter has been a tough test for the respective Stags sides, this year will be no different, in actual fact the match may prove more of a test than the one it replaces, a home game with Notts County.
There’s no real indication as to what Stags side will play, the younger element need a run out following Thursday’s postponement at Shepshed, however Paul Cox has been keen to form a more consistent side as the season’s opener with Newport approaches.
Defender John Thompson and hit man Jake Speight may also need a run out, should they shake off their recent injuries in time. In my opinion the latter has a tougher job on his hands to stake a claim for a starting shirt, as the impressive front 3 triangle of Stevenson, Rhead and Green continues to develop at an encouraging rate.
I look forward to seeing the choice Paul Cox makes on his team selection over the coming week, as I think we are beginning to get the nucleus of our potential starting line-up. The football is coming thick and fast, which can only be described as a positive thing ahead of our fifth season in the conference.
Usually I’d add on a travel page but with this one being just down the road, I’ll let the road signs direct you rather than get you lost with a load of mumbled words! If you’re not making the short trip, be sure to join me on 106.9FM and via our MM-LIVE page from 7pm for full match commentary.
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