Craig Priest writes…
A four-nil defeat in a local derby is never one you want to remember, but hang on a minute – this is pre-season, against a rejuvenating side from two divisions higher and Steve Evans again played pretty much two sides, so to those who have torn up their betting slips for us getting promotion, to those awash in negativity, to those walking in the doom and gloom within the Forest of nightmares…. SNAP OUT OF IT!
NOTHING is lost after yesterday; in fact nothing has even started yet! Instead lessons have been learned to ensure that result never happens again, and that those defensive school-boy catastrophic errors don’t happen again either.
In truth I actually think we needed to get beat heavily yesterday because defeat in such manner hurts, and pain is the best inspiration to go on and succeed. The players will be hurting (pre-season or not), Steve Evans and his staff will be hurting – BUT have time to make little tweaks and get it right before the serious stuff starts.
I personally believe that Evans has the toughest job of his managerial career to date here, I’ll go into depth in another blog on another day, but he has to have one more look at his players which he’ll do Tuesday (with trips to Matlock and Gainsborough) and then at Alfreton say “Right, this is my starting XI for Crewe – you’re having 75/80 minutes this afternoon and 60 on Tuesday [Rainworth], the rest of you, when you get your chance, show me why I should change my team” [And yes, I did say that out loud in the Scottish accent as I wrote it] – we can’t afford to keep making new partnerships and cliques now.
The four-nil score line flattered Forest slightly but take nothing away from Warburton’s side who for each goal, played excellent counter-attacking football straight from the training ground and were ruthless with it – good on them!
Each goal that we’ve conceded in pre-season so far [that I’ve seen] have been defensive errors and I think that’s more down to the constant change in partnerships and pairings than anything else – it has to stop though, as does this deep style attack – yesterday Rose and Angol dropped deep to (try and) create opportunities but had nobody running through.
There’s a reluctance about our attack, we need someone standing on the toes of the last defender like that clingy friend you had at school [If you can’t remember who that was, it was probably you…. Oh great!] – Someone hungry to be involved and who won’t give a moments peace to the opposition back line. I still believe Rose will get 25+ goals though.
I still have reservations about both goalkeepers, not that they’re poor by any stretch of the imagination – but neither comes to claim set-plays or crosses, opting to lounge in the six yard box, if I was a defender, I’d want to go home with a headache from my keeper after consistently bellowing for me to get out of the way or be clattered. From what I’ve seen, Logan is the more vocal of the two but Olejnik edges it with shot stopping and positioning – I’d like to see the goals from yesterday again, for a different view on Logan’s positioning for the third and fourth.
This isn’t the blame game and it’s not a pool of negative water to swim in, yes it’s frustration at defeat but also its realisation that this is something brand new and just like I said last week, you have to leave time for the paint to dry rather than judge straight away.
Having only played shot-stopper Bobby Oljenik, Midfielder’s Jack Thomas and Lewis Collins along with trialist Jordan Slew the previous night at Stamford, Evans pretty much had a full roster to pick from – with the exception of winger Alex MacDonald who is still injured.
I saw Alex on my walk to the ground, his right leg was heavily strapped and he was walking very gingerly – this time around I do think it’s just the injury keeping him out rather than interest from elsewhere, I mean just because he hasn’t travelled to some of the games and instead spent the night tweeting about Love Island, doesn’t mean we need to get rid!
Forest offered a little more spice in the early exchanges and pounced inside the opening minute from Byrom’s lose control – Jack Hobbs picked up a Reds pass on the left and lashed an effort across Logan but wide of the target, Alfie Potter then produced a fine tackle moments later to deny Armand Traore.
Danny Rose had half-hearted cries for a spot-kick turned down on ten minutes as Stags created openings but got little by the way of shots in on goal, Rhys Bennetts cross a minute later did test but was cleared by Forest, and on the counter – Mustapha Carayol left Zander Diamond chasing his cartoon-blur [Think road runner] before firing over Logan’s bar.
Paul Anderson was pulling the strings well in midfield, relishing the role of captain against his former club linking up well with Potter, Mellis and a deep dropping Rose and Angol – but for all their creativity with the ball, they couldn’t carve out shooting opportunities.
Forest on the other hand could and took the lead on 21 minutes, Johnny Hunt’s missed-control on the left touch-line near the half way line was picked up by David Vaughn who drilled a sublime pass into the feet of Forest new addition Jason Cummings, who skipped beyond his marked and unleashed a shot into the top corner, leaving Logan with nothing to do bar pick the ball from the bulging net.
The goal deflated Stags who saw Danny Rose denied by a strong challenge from Joe Worrall on the half hour mark, whilst Forest had a handful of opportunities before the break to double their lead – but fortunately failed to do so.
Steve Evans made eight changes at the break, with only Logan, Mellis and Bennett staying on, the latter moving to centre-back for the second half. The introduction of Paul Digby gave Mansfield some more energy box to box, which after the opening goal was zapped – and a minute into the second half, Jacob Mellis fired wide after Jimmy Spencer had cut the ball back into his path.
Logan made a strong save on 51 minutes as Ben Brereton skipped past Mal Benning to play a neat 1-2 with Ben Osborn, Brereton’s shot tipped wide by the Stags shot stopper.
One former Stags keeper was introduced on the hour mark as Forest made nine changes, in Dimitar Evtimov who made ten appearances during the 2012-15 season. He had little to do during the first ten minutes of his return to the One Call Stadium – watching on as his fresh-legged team mates pounced on a truly woeful bit of defending from Hayden White on 70 minutes.
White had Tyler Walker on his shoulder but had enough time to smash the ball into the retail park, but instead with Logan coming out, opted to cushion the ball back to his keeper – the header was tame and Walker nipped in, rounded a static Logan and put into the empty net. Did White get a call from the keeper to nod it back?
Paul Digby tried to get Mansfield back into the game three minutes later with a forceful run, Digby played a nice give and go with Spencer whose return was perfect for Digby – unfortunately Evtimov was on hand to deny his former club a way back into the match.
The former Stag did the same again with ten minutes to go, Digby played in Spencer who was tripped on the edge of the area – Omari Sterling-James’ resulting free-kick was heading for the top corner, only for the Reds keeper to tip the ball behind – from the resulting corner, Spencer headed Mellis’ delivery behind.
With seven minutes to go, Forest netted a third with an excellent display of quick football – Jamie Ward the provider from the Right hand side with a low cross, after leaving Benning and Hamilton for dust – Vellios did the rest, occupying a pocket of space between the two Stags’ runners to convert beyond Logan.
With a minute to go, Vellios did it again – The Stags were flat footed and allowed Forest to play training ground football, Ward again the provider with a crisp pass to split the defence, and as Logan came rushing out, Vellios had the simple task of tucking the ball underneath his to make it 4-0 Forest.
Stags: Conrad Logan, Rhys Bennett, Krystian Pearce (Hayden White HT), Zander Diamond (George Taft HT), Johnny Hunt (Mal Benning HT), Joel Byrom (Paul Digby HT), Alfie Potter (Will Atkinson HT), Paul Anderson © (CJ Hamilton HT), Jacob Mellis (Jack Thomas 85), Danny Rose (Jimmy Spencer HT), Lee Angol (Omari Sterling-James HT)
Unused Subs: Bobby Olejnik, David Murfin
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