Full Time Score Mansfield Town 3-0 Newport County
Competition Sky Bet League Two
Venue The One Call Stadium, Mansfield
Stags Goal Scorers Tyler Walker, Otis Khan (2)
Attendance 4,423 (320)
Craig Priest writes…
They say that you should always start as you mean to go on, and if that’s the case for Mansfield Town – then a good season could lay in wait, following a slick, composed and professional 3-0 victory over Newport County at the One Call Stadium.
It wasn’t all plain sailing for the Stags who had Conrad Logan to thank for a string of solid saves coupled with some suspect Newport County finishing, but after a testing few days for supporters, it certainly was a relief to walk into the evening sunshine with three points successfully secured.
During the build up to the game there was little talk of if the Stags could match their marvellous pre-season form, instead talk focussed heavily on star striker Danny Rose, who this week handed in a transfer request amid rumours of interest from League One Peterborough United, a side full of former Stags connections.
The Stags had also been active in the transfer market in the build up to the League Two opener, selling Paul Digby to Forest Green Rovers and brining in Stoke City youngster Ryan Sweeney on a season long loan, it was also confirmed after the match that the Stags had accepted a bid from Grimsby Town for striker Lee Angol – should that move go ahead, I seriously doubt Rose would be allowed to leave so easily – we can afford to lose one front man, not two.
Onto the match itself and the most pleasing element for me was the support shown for boss David Flitcroft who, prior to the match, hadn’t won a league fixture at home since taking over in March – a win for him is huge in the support stakes, considering the rumours surrounding fall-outs with a few of the Transfer Listed, fan favourite, players.
The Stags were tested more severally than they were during pre-season against the quartet of championship sides and from the off looked shaky, a better team would have punished us but fortunately, we rode the waves to survive undamaged.
The problem seemed to be in the back three with Hayden White slipping and making early errors, after the first goal David Flitcroft called him over and had a word, after which his game improved significantly and he was fully deserving of being the man to protect the clean sheet late on in the second half with the goal line clearance.
Matt Preston looked sharp and dominant once again and seemed to very much be settling with captain Pearce, whose mentality issues thankfully seem to be gone – this is a big season for Pearce, full deserving the honour of captain.
The three goals we scored highlighted how dangerous the new system can be and the importance of playing the width of the pitch, Otis Khan rightfully will take the plaudits for two fine goals, but as a team – over movement troubled Newport and showed glimpses of real quality.
It will be a long season and it will not be plain sailing all the way through, there will be games we don’t have our own way and have to watch our discipline, but overall – it’s a very pleasing start to the new campaign, I for one can’t wait to see this journey continue.
The questions over the team sheet prior to kick-off weren’t about who would start, more who would miss out as David Flitcroft had moulded his side over the previous fortnight – new signing Ryan Sweeney arrived from Stoke City on Friday on loan, he settled for a place on the bench, with Flitcroft sticking with White at right side centre-back, and CJ Hamilton at right wing back.
Transfer listed Calum Butcher made the bench alogn with younsgeters Lewis Gibbens and Jordan Graham, want away striker Rose missed out along with Lee Angol – who appears to be Grimsby bound.
Otis Khan kicked off the new campaign where the opening ten minutes so a timid start from both, on 11 minutes however Mal Benning had to be alert and make a critical intervention to prevent Jamille Matt from opening the scoring for the visitors.
A minute later at the other end CJ Hamilton saw an effort blocked straight to the feet of a hungry Tyler Walker, he drew a save from Joe Day earning the stags a corner – from which Bishop & Pearce combined to feed Walker, who this time made no mistake in firing beyond Joe Day to officially open his Stags account.
On 15 minutes Conrad Logan made a fine save to deny Padraig Amond at the far post from a deep cross, two mibutes later The stags came close again – Craig Davies’ long range curler crashed against the post.
The Stags endured a spell of unpunished pressure from Newport as the visitors thrice wasted efforts, Tyler Walker then nearly grabbed a second on 38 minutes from MacDonald’s cross, Walker’s effort narrowly wide.
Otis Khan and Craig Davies had further efforts but couldn’t add a second – the Stags 1-0 up at half-time.
The Stags emerged from the dressing room and stepped things up a notch, Khan curled an effort wide from 20 yards on 54 minutes, but soon found the target two minutes later, latching onto Walkers’ cross to head home, after a neat lofted pass from Bishop to send the forest loanee racing to the bye-line.
Khan the grabbed his second and Mansfield’s third on 65 minutes with a sublime effort, curling home from outside the box as Stags’ fluid movement, proved too much for Newport to handle.
Newport nearly hand one back with 12 minutes to go as Amond beat the offside trap to round an advancing Logan, Hayden White recovered well and scopped the ball away from danger a yard from the line.
A long injury to the linesman delayed the ending, but it was set in stone – a comfortable and well earned victory for the Stags, their firs three points putting them third in the League Two table – nwxt stop Yeovil, who were beaten 1-0 at Bury, but did have two players sent-off.
FULL TIME: Stags 3-0 Newport County
STAGS [3-5-2]: Conrad Logan, Hayden White, Matt Preston, Krystian Pearce ©, CJ Hamilton, Neal Bishop, Alex MacDonald, Mal Benning, Otis Khan (Calum Butcher 75), Craig Davies (Jordan Graham 90), Tyler Walker (Jacob Mellis 90+4)
Unused Subs: Bobby Oljenik, Ryan Sweeney [#17 New signing on loan from Stoke City], Lewis Gibbens, Omari Sterling-James
Referee: Paul Marsden
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