Craig Priest writes…
The Sky-Bet League Two season continues to draw ever closer and tomorrow night, Paul Cox’s men continue their preparations as they make the short trip to neighbours Rainworth MW – a match which has the early season “help a nearby club out” feel to it rather than the serious competitive test feel.
Personally I have no doubt that Rainworth in a way will defiantly provide a tough and rugged test on a tight pitch ahead of a tough weekend where Stags will take on Coventry City (home on Friday night) and Boston United (away on Saturday afternoon).
Club links with Rainworth have grown over the past few years with the wrens now providing a home for our day to day training whilst the One Call complex gets completed. The Wrens also have a former Stag at the helm; Mark Hawkins quit the Stags board in the aftermath of our title win to take the Chairman’s role at Kirklington Road.
A game is a game regardless of opposition and I’m eager to see a more committed display from Cox’s men tomorrow night after a rather half-hearted game against Sheffield United on Saturday. This is the third pre-season in a row in which Stags have travelled to Rainworth – Cox missed the first one due to a family wedding, Micky Moore took charge of a group of trialists, non were invited back for a second look. Last term there was anger as Cox, in the midst of a busy schedule, withdrew his promised senior side and sent the youth team, however he did make up for it mid-season, sending a reserve team to play the Wrens on a night where floodlight failure nearly got the match called off. This term, with no other matches until the weekend, there’s no excuse for trialists (bar Morgan-Smith) or the youth team as Rainworth, at last, cash in on a friendly with their newly promoted neighbours.
Naturally a lot of the talk will be about money and off the pitch links, however I’m hopeful Cox uses the match to discover which of his players have the character and desire to take on and compete with lower-league opposition and those that simply don’t – the ones that fit the latter would for me, be out of the door.
Talking of exits, I was saddened to read this morning that Paul Cox has opted not to pursue the trial of former Stags winger Nathan Arnold. I have to admit I was critical of going back to old players when I first heard the news but, in Anthony Howell style, Arnold won me round with impressive displays and was odds on to sign a deal. Numerous posts on social network pages from Arnold have suggested that his Stags door is now closed, a big mistake in my opinion – good luck to Nathan for the future, I hope that Cox has other avenues of interest.
With Arnold’s exit, I also wonder if Amari Morgan-Smith will depart to look elsewhere – the striker has been at the One Call Stadium for roughly a week and impressed against Chester, and in my opinion, looked sharp against the Blades at the weekend. We are lacking a striker still and maybe, much in the way Green did, if he gets a goal the floodgates may open – time will tell.
A win is not too important against the Wrens, although if we don’t get victory there won’t be too many happy staggies around! I want to see commitment and desire from the players, I want to see players playing until after the last second has passed and players actually pressuring the opposition, we are after all the champions – it’s about time we proved it!
If you can’t make the short trip to Rainworth, then make sure you subscribe to StagsPlayer – the only place you can catch full match commentary with me from 7.25pm. Follow us on twitter too to get involved with the show, Em will be tweeting throughout via @mtfcmatters
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