Craig Priest writes…
Following an away trip overseas to Malta to face Naxxar Lions and a trip back on UK soil to Worksop Town, along with a behind closed doors match with Stevenage, tomorrow is the first time Paul Cox’s men will play at the One Call Stadium since that infamous win over Wrexham on April 20th.
The match will give those that haven’t seen any action yet the chance to cast their eye over players old and new as our champions grace the brand new One Call turf. Cox’s men, who lost their grip on a 2-2 half time score line at Stevenage on Thursday lunch time, will face a Nottingham Forest side that will be a unique blend of senior players and youths as Billy Davies men travel to both ourselves and Ilkeston.
Davies will be encouraged by the reds’ 2-1 victory of Hibernian last week, a match played in Portugal making the headlines for all the wrong reasons, and will undoubtedly hope for the same display of professionalism from his players meaning Cox’s champions will have a real test on their hands.
The Stags side is expected to be made up from the “best performers” from the three matches so far and could also see a handful of players be put on trial to replace Matt Green following his recent departure to Forests’ championship rivals Birmingham City.
Jordan Robertson, formerly on the books of Sheffield United, could be in contention after netting the Stags goal a Worksop, as could former Burton Albion teenager Evan Garnett – however neither name is confirmed.
Trialists aside, the match against Forest will as ever have that Derby-Match flavour to it, adding that edge of competitiveness which in my opinion is the key to sparking a more productive pre-season. I hope that Cox treats the match with the right regard, rather than playing two sides I hope he keeps the squad to a minimal and allows players to get used to the new pitch and each other, something I’ll no doubt repeat next week looking ahead to the match with Peterborough United.
Last night myself and Em went along to the Youth Team friendly with Ollerton and overhead a few people in panic like conversations about a striker, whilst we both agreed that we need a replacement for Green – we disagreed with the panic nature of the conversations, matches against Forest are the perfect test for players already at the club, such as Speight and Hutchinson, to step up and grab their chance. A striker is out there, there’s not too much of a time constraint on signing him – it has to be right.
I was left disappointed by the result at Worksop but tomorrow I won’t be in honesty, I just want to see a display of professionalism and a confident, more determined display from the players – the hard work needs to start again as we prepare for league two.
Last pre-season saw us take on the Reds behind closed doors, the Stags came out on top through strikes from Anthony Howell and the now departed Nick Wright, there have been many other pre-season meetings down the years along with competitive fixtures – let’s hope tomorrow is another one to remember.
Regular Updates will be via our MM-LIVE page with build up getting underway at 2pm, the build-up will include highlights from the trip to Malta and the match with Worksop Town.
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