Full Time Score Mansfield Town 2-1 Rotherham United
Competition Pre-Season Friendly
Venue The One Call Stadium, Mansfield
Stags Goal Scorers Craig Davies (P), Tyler Walker
Attendance 2,083 (466)
Craig Priest writes…
As the heat-wave across the town came to a stormy end, the Stags concluded their pre-season with a fine 2-1 win over Rotherham United at the One Call Stadium to a rumble of thunder – a message for Sky Bet League Two from David Flitcrofts men “We’re ready”.
Every time I’ve spoken to someone this week ahead of the game, they must have thought that I’d lost my mind, as I’d be saying that I wanted to see us lose or at least go down and get a pasting – because I wanted to see a response, I wanted our mentality tested.
Yes we’ve had spells in games where we’ve been under pressure and we had our togetherness tested off the pitch on Tuesday, but we’ve not had a REAL test of being under consistent pressure at the back and not being able to control a game – we’re not going to go through a season without that happening, and I’d rather our character implode during pre-season when they can argue and it not impact the bigger picture, aka cost points.
Out of all the games we’ve played (which I’ve seen having not flown out to Portugal, missed Bradford Park Avenue and chosen Retford over Hednesford) yesterday gave me that feeling that I wanted – the feeling that everyone is together, there’s no anger or dislike in the dressing room, when things aren’t going quite to plan we find another way.
I saw that after Rotherham’s equaliser where we were far to static and conceded cheaply, the boys didn’t get in each others faces, there was very little blame – it was just “we go again and tighten up a notch” and that, personally, I think is down to the style of Flitcroft – there’s not a dressing room expecting to have a bust up after conceding or making an error unlike under Evans.
The change in conditions made us have to work harder on our movement and structure, I felt we coped well with that and I was particularly impressed with Craig Davies’ role in that – he dropped deeper and got us moving and looked a real threat. Calum Butcher too I felt impressed with in the first half, we missed him in that advanced role in the second half, but with Khan, Mellis and MacDonald to contend with playing higher up, he’s going to have to work hard to get a place in the team – I hope he does.
One point of sorrow where the comments of the manager post match about the mentality of skipper Krystian Pearce, who was at the heart of Tuesday’s brawl. Speaking to BBC Radion Nottingham Flitcroft said “The after-spill of Tuesday night has affected him. Mentally he didn’t feel in tune with the game. He felt as though he couldn’t commit to the game and that’s something we have to work on this week”
Whatever really did happen on Tuesday seems to have gone really deep, Pearce has been one of the most committed and focussed defenders I’ve ever seen pull on a Stags shirt and is a leader, to have that focus broken and his head all over the place is far more of a bigger problem than a long term injury – as a team we need to rally around him, us supporters too. If he needs to take time out then so be it, we are talking about someone’s mental wellbeing here, and that comes way before the game.
After the match David Flitcroft confirmed the injury to trialist Nathan Cameron was too serious to warrant pursing a deal with him and that he was looking at a deal through the loan market potentially. We could do with another central defender as cover, although again this could be Paul Digby’s time to shine.
I’ll write more about pre-season on a whole soon in the build up to the season’s opener, but I’m on this – David Flitcroft has transformed the attitude and mentality of Mansfield Town Football Club and must be 100% applauded for that after the way last season played out. This game is full of passion, emotion and expectation – it’s so easy to get lost in the moment and make knee jerk decisions based on atmosphere and animosity, he’s ridden that wave and I honestly feel that whilst it won’t be pretty, there’s a storm coming. Hold onto your hats folks
David Flitcroft was without Otis Khan who was left out due to illness whilst striker Danny Rose also missed out, having played around only twenty minutes behind closed doors against hull in the week, a 3-1 loss. Paul Anderson also missed out again, but was spotted on Friday sporting an Ice Pack – and not just to cope with the heat wave.
The Stags were put under a bit of pressure early doors with Conrad Logan diverting a dangerous cross from Forde, at the other end Calum Butcher was taking his chance to shine winning the Stags a free-kick on seven minutes.
The set play led to a phase of play which, a minute later, would result in a Stags spot-kick as Mal Benning was fouled by Forde – Craig Davies stepped up from the spot and sent the keeper the wrong way, rolling in his first Stags goal.
On twelve minutes a huge flash of warning for the Stags going into the new season as the entire squad played statues in the box as Rotherham swung in a corner, Sean Raggett rose unchallenged, unmarked, to head beyond Logan to level the match.
Rotherham then picked up their game and it took a great tackle from Pearce to stop Jones advancing, before Vassell nodded a cross over Logan’s bar, the Stags stopper then did well to hold onto a forceful twenty-yard drive from Will Vaulks.
On the half hour, another flash – not lighting, but a flash of Mal Benning’s attacking intent – he thundered a volley on his right foot over the bar.
Pearce was withdrawn from the match on 39 minutes for youngster Lewis Gibbens, MacDonald took the armband as Pearce had a long heart to heart with Flitcroft. The pair, along with fans, were celebrating two minutes later as Hayden White sent Tyler Walker free into the box, Walker did well to hold off the defenders and fire home a neat finish to restore the Stags lead.
Jacob Mellis replaced Butcher at the break but it was the visitors who pilled on the pressure first, Logan denying both Forde and Jones, before the Stags made further changes to introduce Sterling-James and Angol, for Bishop and Walker.
Substitute Jamie Proctor tried to chip Logan with seven minutes to go, Alex MacDonald then fizzed one over at the other end with a minute to go as the Stags wrapped up another pre-season victory, three wins and a draw over Championship oppositions leaves a lot to smile about.
FULL TIME: Stags 2-1 Rotherham United
STAGS [3-5-2]: Conrad Logan, Hayden White, Matt Preston, Krystian Pearce © (Lewis Gibbens 39), CJ Hamilton, Neal Bishop (Omari Sterling-James 63), Alex MacDonald, Mal Benning, Calum Butcher (Jacob Mellis HT), Tyler Walker (Lee Angol 63), Craig Davies (Jordan Graham 79)
Unused Subs: Bobby Oljenik, Paul Digby, Will Atkinson Nyle Blake (Although Nyle wasn’t named on the team sheet, he was clearly a sub)
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