After Tuesday’s defeat against Bury, a few fans walking back to their cars were saying that we were doomed for the drop as we had “nothing in reserve” – last night the second string were in action at Kirklington Road against Scunthorpe United, we decided to pop along to see exactly what Stags had in reserve should they make changes – for those whose answer was “nothing” that’s rubbish.
Despite being on the wrong end of a 3-0 score line as Scunthorpe’s Etienne Esajas netted either side of captain Callum Howe’s forceful header, the Stags put in a pleasing display with a number of players sending a clear message to Paul Cox that they should be in contention for a first team start on Saturday – The Stags boss watched on from the side lines, spending the majority of the first half in deep conversation with Iron boss Russ Wilcox.
It was a very miss-matched line-up from the Stags but they did manage to start with only one young professional on the field in the excellent Liam Marsden, which just highlights that Cox has options to call upon should he wish. Full back Lee Beevers completed a full 90 minutes at centre back, pairing man of the match Jamie McGuire who later moved to right back mid-way through the first half when Liam Marsden was withdrawn with a gash to the eye which later required four stitches.
Wingers Louis Briscoe and Lindon Meikle also got a full 90 minutes with the latter doing his chances of a first team call no harm with a committed display on the left hand side. Ollie Palmer paired Ross Dyer up front whilst Ben Hutchinson skippered the side alongside assistant manager Adam Murray in central midfield. The somewhat out-of-favour Paul Black also got a full match under his belt at left back, linking up well with Meikle.
Like we mentioned yesterday, commitment and bottle were lacking on Tuesday against Bury as the shakers ran out easy 4-1 winners – last night, the performance of McGuire especially highlighted just what was needed to prevent the first teams fall.
Playing out of position across the back line, the lively midfielder led from the back with a vocal display and wasn’t afraid to get stuck in despite being in uncharted territory – he won a fair 85% of his ariel battles with James Jennings’ brother Connor who led the visitors front line. McGuire didn’t take it easy and not put 100% effort in like some would in a reserve team outing, the lively midfielder was there to stake a claim on a start on Saturday.
Likewise Lindon Meikle, the livewire wide man put a real shift in down the left hand side, driving at his full back and getting numerous crosses and cut backs in which sadly, just wouldn’t fall right for Palmer or Dyer. Meikle’s energy was breath of fresh air as he continued to chase directional passes from Paul Black, who many are calling for a first team start, not forgetting to mention the service created from Murray, whose sharpness evolved as the game progressed, and Hutchinson who was another perhaps out of his comfort zone in centre midfield.
All in all, we’d be happy to see three, maybe four of that squad last night given a shot on Saturday. Mansfield enjoyed the better of the game in the first half but were rocked when Esajas broke the deadlock with a low drive beyond Deakin on 53 minutes. Iron skipper left Deakin with no chance for the second, glancing home a powerful header following a succession of set plays – the third followed soon after, the classy Esajas lobbing Deakin from distance to wrap up the win.
For the Stags though, defeat mattered little as the players got vital game time, let’s just hope that those who shone brightest, get given the chance to make a difference in the first team at the weekend.
Written by Craig Priest & Emily Sykes
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