Craig Priest writes…
Towards the back end of last season, there were many escapees who couldn’t stand the heat in the proverbial kitchen – last night proved another test of heat as the new campaign drew closer, with a 2-1 win over Nottingham Forest’s Under 23s.
Despite victory and extremely high temperatures, it felt at times to continue the kitchen analogy, that the Stags were putting all the required amount of ingredients in – only to pull a really dry, flavourless, cake out of the oven.
Personally that’s geared more towards the first half where Mansfield didn’t do a lot with the ball and struggled to test former Stags loanee Jordan Smith in the Forest goal, and whilst they had that little bit of luck in the own goal to make the score 1-1, I felt there was something missing – that extra special ingredient, particularly in the middle, which made this particular squad, so resilient and feisty.
Naturally you can factor the heat in and the fact that Forest’s “Under 23” side included a lot of senior pros during the first half, but the league doesn’t award or deduct points for temperature and coming up against experience – I just wanted to see that extra 5-10% desire to play for each other.
To be fair it shine a little more in the second half and we started to see a lot more of the game Danny Rose will play, with cleaver little touches and off the ball movement – and reward certainly came with Maynard’s well taken goal, I just want to see our competitiveness and ideas become a little bit more sharp with Newport just around the corner.
One grumble would be that, given how flat we were for a lot of the early stages of the second half, I’d have like to have seen fresh legs such as Khan, Smith and cook introduced but pre-season is as much about getting players through 90 minutes as it is about subtle tweaks to influence games, so I do understand and appreciate that, with the only change made being the enforced one of Hayden White – let’s hope that’s nothing serious and he;s fighting fit come a week on Saturday.
One more pre-season game to go as the Stags welcome Rangers Under 23s on Saturday in a 1pm kick-off, let’s end our preparations on a high as the heat ramps up once more.
-- MATCH RECAP --
The Stags faced up against a Forest Under 23s side and it was the visitors who were on top early, firing over the bar on six minutes through Bridcutt, before taking the lead four minutes later as Jason Cummings nodded home, following Murphy’s initial effort.
Cummings again tried his luck on 18 minutes but failed to keep his effort down, the Stags first real effort coming ten minutes as Mellis picked out Benning, whose left sided cross was collected by ex-stag Smith.
A minute later another good flowing move from the Stags saw them gain a helping hand in levelling the match, Ethan Stewart turned in Mal Benning’s delivery.
Mansfield then had further efforts to go ahead as Smith tipped an effort over from Mellis, before Mal Benning hit a trademark volley from a corner, this one connected well, but lacked direction as it fired over the bar.
After the break, ex-Stag Smith again denied Mellis before Dempster’s men was dealt a blow as Hayden White hobbled off injured, CJ Hamilton replaced him at right wing back.
Alex MacDonald and Mal Benning had further efforts before the hour mark, before Aiden Stone was called into action on 77 minutes to deny Swan at close range.
Nicky Maynard was denied a penalty on 78 minutes but six minutes later bagged his first goal on the One Call Stadium turf to ultimately win the game for the Stags, peeling away from his marker well to convert CJ Hamilton’s pinpoint low cross.
FULL TIME: Mansfield Town 2-1 Nottingham Forest U23s
Aidan Stone | Matt Preston, Krystian Pearce ©, Ryan Sweeney | Hayden White (CJ Hamilton 55), Alex MacDonald, Neal Bishop, Jacob Mellis, Mal Benning | Danny Rose, Nicky Maynard
Unused Substitutes: Conrad Logan, Otis Khan, Andy Cook, Omari Sterling-James, Lewis Gibbens, Alistair Smith, James Clarke, Trailist
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