Goals from Alex Fisher, Martin Riley and substitute Ollie Palmer saw Mansfield Town complete a three goal come back against League One Neighbours Notts County at the One Call Stadium this afternoon in the clubs first real pre-season friendly of 2014.
Paul Cox’s men had seen some match action a few days prior with a victory over a very youthful Huddersfield Town side behind closed doors, today’s encounter however was the first chance for us supporters to catch a glimpse of the new additions and names battling out for a contract.
Without a goalkeeper following the departure of the much loved Alan Marriott and second choice Ian Deakin during close season, fans were eager to see who would be in line to takeover goalkeeping duty’s. Whilst the club refused to name any of the four trialists on show, rumours were circulating that the mystery man between the sticks this afternoon was Nottingham Forest’s Bulgarian youngster Dimitar Evtimov – a quick photo / memory comparison seems to all but confirm this, as for the other three trialists, frankly your guess is as good as ours!
The Stags fielded only three of their new additions in the starting eleven with two trailists involved, one of which was (Evtimov) in goal. Despite Paul Cox’s promise to try something new it was an extremely similar formation to the one which featured heavily last term, a 3-4-1-2 with Sam Clucas playing just off of the front two and Amari'i Bell and trailist (wearing 12) employed as wingers/ wing-backs.
Both sides began brightly and despite an early fumble of a cross for Stags’ on trial keeper, it was Cox’s men that got the first effort in, Jamie McGuire firing over from twenty yards after John Dempster’s deep cross was headed into his path.
Despite Mansfield coming close, it was the visitors that drew first blood as they opened the scoring from close range as Brad McGowan squeezed in a loose ball following a counter corner.
Ten minutes later Mansfield had a golden opportunity to pull level as supporters eyes widened as Alex Fisher brought himself to the spotlight. Evtimov launched a long ball forward which found the head of Matt Rhead, his angled flick landed with precision between the Notts back line, of which Fisher evaded to latch onto the inviting ball and clip narrowly over the bar under pressure from the advancing County keeper Fabian Spiess.
It took Fisher just two more minutes before he had the beating of Spiess to grab his first goal in Stags colours and level the match. In a similar situation, the former AC Monza front man pounced on a defensive error to canter into the area and attempt to round Spiess who brought the six foot three front man crashing to the ground. Referee Andy Haines showed no hesitation in pointing to the spot, Fisher dusted himself down to calmly convert beyond the visiting shot stopper.
From then on Mansfield looked the more in control and soon found a second goal with their first corner of the game on twenty-two minutes. It was captain Adam Murray that delivered a right footed in-swinger to the back post to find the head of Matt Rhead, the front man who will miss the first two games of the season through suspension, nodded back across the face of the goal to find Martin Riley, the defender was left with the simple task of nodding the ball down and across the line.
Further chances came and went for both sides with Mansfield’s Bulgarian trialist having little to do between the sticks, the sides headed into the dressing rooms with Mansfield in a 2-1 lead.
The second half saw the fun bit, substitutions a plenty. With a broken tannoy system no help it was guess work but the end results saw John Dempster, Adam Murray, Jamie McGuire, Amari’i Bell, Matt Rhead, Alex Fisher and Sam Clucas replaced by Liam Marsden, Chris Clements, Ritchie Sutton, Ollie Palmer, Anthony Howell (technically on trial as he’s not in contract) and another unnamed trialist, who wore number 15, and Fergus Bell who wore 19.
Mansfield moved into a more traditional 4-4-2 for the second half which truly was a drab affair compared to the first half. Fergus Bell looked impressive with a series of dominant runs from midfield and did draw Spiess, the only player to play the full 90 minutes for the visitors, into a smart save in 65 minutes.
Trialist 15 did see a bit of the action as he was teed up by his Fergus Bell, however the centre forward failed to keep his shot down. The fourth trailist named on the team sheet as ‘Trialist 4’ made an appearance on 75 minutes, he wore number 20 but featured little, John Dempster also returned to the pitch to precautionary replace Tafazolli after he picked up a knock.
There was late drama as Mansfield sealed a comfortable victory on 88 minutes, youngster Liam Marsden provided an expert trademark long throw straight to the head of substitute Ollie Palmer who guided the ball into the top corner.
Full Time: Mansfield Town 3-1 Notts County
Stags: 1.Trialist GK (Dimitar Evtimov), 4.John Dempster (2 Liam Marsden HT), 9.Martin Riley, 5.Ryan Tafazolli (4.John Dempster 75), 12.Trailist (20.Trialist 75), 8.Adam Murray © (17.Chris Clements HT), 18.Jamie McGurie (7.Anthony Howell HT), 3. Amari’i Bell (14.Ritchie Sutton HT), 11.Sam Clucas (10.Ollie Palmer HT), 6.Matt Rhead (19.Fergus Bell HT), 16.Alex Fisher (15.Trialist HT).
Unused Substitutes: Jack Thomas
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