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Season 22/23 Stagsnet Match Report
Pre-Season Friendly
Mansfield Town  
1 - 1
 Rotherham United
Oates 85.
 Kayode 60
Attendance: 2,440 (410 from Rotherham)
Date: 16 July 2022

Martin Shaw at the One Call Stadium, Field Mill

Mansfield Town drew 1-1 with Championship newcomers Rotherham United at the One Call Stadium yesterday. It was Mansfield’s third game of pre-season. Rotherham took the lead on the hour with a header from a corner, but Mansfield equalised after 85 minutes with a terrific finish from Rhys Oates after a precision ball threaded through from Jason Law. A draw was a fair result as Mansfield held their own against a strong Rotherham side.

Stags team (3-5-2):
Christy Pym;
John-Joe O’Toole, Oli Hawkins, Riley Harbottle;
Jordan Bowery (right wing-back), Ollie Clarke, Dylan McGeouch, George Lapslie, Stephen McLaughlin (left wing-back);
Will Swan, Lucas Akins.

Stephen Quinn (for Clarke, 64)
George Maris (for McGeouch, 64)
Hiram Boateng (for Lapslie, 64)
Kellan Gordon (for Bowery, 69)
Rhys Oates (for Swan, 75)
Jason Law (for Akins, 75)
George Cooper (for Harbottle, 75)
Sub not used: Owen Mason, James Gale.

Goalkeeper Christy Pym, signed on a season long loan from Peterborough on Tuesday, played his first game. Pym is a very good keeper and has played against the Stags many times before, most recently for Stevenage at Mansfield in April when Mansfield won 2-0.
Central defender Riley Harbottle, signed on a season long loan from Nottingham Forest shortly before the Rotherham game, came into a central defensive three, alongside O’Toole and Hawkins.
Dylan McGeouch (pronounced McGee-oh), who had joined the training camp in Scotland as a favour to the player, played in midfield again as a favour to the player. Nigel Clough re-iterated after the game that with 6 or 7 midfielders in the squad already, it would be difficult to sign another midfielder, so don’t expect him to sign.
Ollie Clarke and George Lapslie, who played just 25 minutes at Matlock, started the game.
Lucas Akins switched from wing-back to play up front with Will Swan.

Kellan Gordon returned to the bench after limping off at Retford.

Mansfield were still without Kieran Wallace (out for 4 weeks) and Elliott Hewitt (both with knocks picked up at the training camp in Scotland).
New keeper Scott Flinders was rested as a precaution after feeling discomfort in his groin on Friday.
James Perch was also out and is due to have a scan on a calf problem on Tuesday.
First year pro’s Curtis Davies and Cody Collins were also absent with ankle injuries.

Also absent:
Danny Johnson (available for transfer, didn’t feature due to interest from one club).
Jimmy Knowles (long term injury).

The formation was 3-5-2 for the third game out of three. A reminder that Nigel Clough said a week ago after the first pre-season friendly: “We’re going to look at one or two things in the next few friendlies and see which one settles. We think we’ve got the players to carry it out (3-5-2). I think we’ve got ideal wing-backs, I think the centre halves we’ve got can adapt to it, I think Oli Hawkins is perfect in the middle of a three, and it gets us two up top which is important as well. We’ll see how it goes.”

Rotherham sent out a strong side.

The Stags were nearly behind in the opening 30 seconds. Dan Barlaser crossed from the right and Ben Wiles was left unmarked to head goalwards, but Christy Pym parried the shot up and caught it as it came down. A great save from Pym, but not so good from the defence.

After 3 minutes, Ollie Clarke played a 1-2 with McLaughlin down the left. Barlaser tried to shepherd the ball out for a goal kick, but Clarke nicked it away from him, and then tried a cheeky shot along the byline to beat the keeper at his near post, but the keeper saved.

Superb play from Will Swan after 7 minutes. A goal kick from Pym flicked off the head of defender Hakeem Odoffin, Swan ran on to it and outpaced Richard Wood, the Rotherham captain, on the right, cut back inside onto his left foot, and fired across the keeper and just wide of the left post, with McLaughlin inches away from turning it in at the left post. Good pace from Swan, clever play, and close to the opening goal. It had the Stags fans on their feet.

Harbottle impressed after 8 minutes with a really good tackle.

Conor Washington just over-ran the ball through to Pym moments later, and then on 10 minutes, Pym was out of his area quickly to clear. His clearance was good and nearly set Ollie Clarke away for a run at goal.

A cross from Washington just evaded Joshua Kayode in the middle after 18 minutes.

Then Jamie Lindsay had a shot from 25 yards blocked by Dylan McGeouch.

Super football and a great move from the Stags after 26 minutes. Harbottle played out to McLaughlin on the left and his first time cross was met by Lucas Akins who headed just wide.

A minute later at the other end, Harbottle headed away a free kick. Then on 35 minutes, from Kayode’s hanging cross, Peter Kioso to headed straight at Pym. A minute later, Oli Hawkins headed away another cross.

After 37 minutes, Swan played a delightful ball down the left with the outside of his right boot, Ollie Clarke ran on to it and his left footed cross across the edge of the six yard box just evaded Akins in the middle.

After 38 minutes, a shot from Lindsay from 18 yards was deflected for a corner. Bowery headed away the resulting corner.

On 42 minutes, Pym was out quickly to gather as Chiedozie Ogbene embarked on a great run and tried to slide the ball forward for Washington.

Just before the break, Ogbene crossed and it hit Lindsay allowing the Stags to clear.

An impressive first half from Mansfield after that free header allowed Rotherham a good chance inside the opening 30 seconds. Pym impressed in goal. Harbottle was very good at the back, and brought the ball out of defence calmly, setting up one attack as well. Will Swan showed good pace up front and played particularly well, being unlucky not to score. Lucas Akins continued to show good form in the pre-season games. Dylan McGeouch showed lots of nice touches and looked a fine player. It does appear clear however that the Stags will not be signing him.

Half time 0-0

No changes for either side at the break.

Hawkins left a pass short for O’Toole after 52 minutes but O’Toole did well to win the ball. Then at the other end a minute later a good move culminated in Bowery winning a corner which came to nothing.

A chance for Rotherham after 54 minutes as Ogbene crossed from the left and Washington got in between O’Toole and Hawkins to glance a header just wide.

After 55 minutes, brilliant from Bowery who beautifully brought down a long Pym kick forward, 40 yards from goal, pushed forward to the edge of the area beating two defenders, and fired in a low shot which keeper Viktor Johansson saved low to his right. What a goal that would have been.

Good play from Harbottle after 56 minutes as he charged forward, set George Lapslie away, Lapslie played the ball inside towards Akins but he couldn’t get a shot in.

Harbottle blocked a shot from Ogbene for a corner. And from it, Rotherham took the lead on the hour. Barlaser dinked a lovely ball into the six yard box, Kayode attacked it and headed home from 4 yards. From the video, it looks like Hawkins was supposed to be marking Kayode and let him get away, but it’s difficult to say for sure.

Kayode limped off with a hamstring injury two minutes later after chasing a ball and will be out for 8-10 weeks, a big blow for Rotherham.

Mansfield made a triple change after 64 minutes taking off the central midfield three of Clarke, McGeouch, and Lapslie, and bringing on Stephen Quinn, George Maris, and Hiram Boateng.

A good header away by Hawkins after 66 minutes from Kioso’s cross. Then Quinn conceded a free kick 28 yards out. Barlaser sent the free kick straight at Pym.

Another change after 69 minutes as Bowery was replaced at right wing-back by Kellan Gordon.

Rotherham brought on three young substitutes with no numbers for the final 20 minutes.

On 71 minutes, a good move down the left from the Stags involving McLaughlin, Quinn and Akins to win a corner. From the corner, taken by Quinn, McLaughlin headed high over the bar.

On 74 minutes, a surging run forward by Gordon who was brought down in full flight just outside the area on the right by a substitute with no number. From the free kick, McLaughlin teed up Boateng whose shot from 18 yards was straight at keeper Johansson.

Three more changes for Mansfield after 75 minutes. Off came front pair Swan and Akins, plus defender Harbottle. On came Rhys Oates, Jason Law and George Cooper. Good applause for the three coming off.

Pym made a good punch away from a corner after 76 minutes.

The Stags went close after 84 minutes. Gordon crossed from the right, it was headed out to Boateng, who fired a shot into the ground, it deflected off a defender and flew just over the bar. The resulting corner came out to McLaughlin who shot wide from 16 yards.

The Stags deservedly equalised after 85 minutes. Jason Law threaded a precision ball through for Rhys Oates who drilled a terrific finish across the keeper Johansson into the bottom left corner of the net. It was very reminiscent of Law’s ball forward for Oates’ goal against Middlesbrough in the FA Cup last season. Also Oates’ finish was not too dissimilar to his goal against Northampton in the play-off semi-final, the last game at the One Call Stadium. Law certainly knows how to pick a pass like that, great stuff. And a typically great finish from Oates.

Mansfield might have had a penalty after 87 minutes. Maris sent Oates away into the area and Oates went down under a challenge from Odoffin, but the referee waved play on. Oates had got goalside and you’ve seen the given. However watching the video frame by frame, Odoffin gets the ball first. Nigel Clough said after the game: “I didn't think it was a penalty. I thought the lad got a good challenge in.”

Brilliant football on 90 minutes as Oates set Gordon away, Gordon crossed across the edge of the six yard box and it just evaded Law in the middle.

So a 1-1 draw, and a fair result. Overall this was a very encouraging performance from Mansfield. Pym had less to do in the second half and had no chance with the goal. Harbottle continued to impress before he was substituted. Kellan Gordon looked dangerous going forward as a substitute, and the midfield three substitutes got some control of the game, admittedly against a younger Rotherham side in the latter stages. Jason Law and Rhys Oates combined superbly for the equalising goal.

The next game is on Tuesday, against Sheffield United. As first reported by the Chad, it is behind-closed-doors “on police advice”, essentially giving the club no choice in the matter. I’m not permitted to reveal the location of the game until just before kick-off. A very poor decision from the police in my opinion, given that there is not a history of trouble between supporters of the two clubs in the last couple of decades, such as pre-season in 2018 and the League Cup in 2014, and it will cost the club a lot of money in lost revenue. Nigel Clough told me he was disappointed as he had selected the fixture thinking it would be a good one for the fans to watch. We will not have live coverage on iFollow Stags but the full match replay will be available on iFollow Stags the following day. Sheffield United are showing the game live on their SUTV service, for £7 (https://www.sufc.co.uk/videos/sub). Given the weather forecast of record-breaking high temperatures, Nigel Clough told me the kick off has been moved back from 7pm to 8pm.

Report by: Martin Shaw at the One Call Stadium, Field Mill

Line Up:
Christy Pym;
John-Joe O’Toole, Oli Hawkins, Riley Harbottle;
Jordan Bowery (right wing-back), Ollie Clarke, Dylan McGeouch, George Lapslie, Stephen McLaughlin (left wing-back);
Will Swan, Lucas Akins.
Sub Line Up:
Stephen Quinn (for Clarke, 64)
George Maris (for McGeouch, 64)
Hiram Boateng (for Lapslie, 64)
Kellan Gordon (for Bowery, 69)
Rhys Oates (for Swan, 75)
Jason Law (for Akins, 75)
George Cooper (for Harbottle, 75)
Sub not used: Owen Mason, James Gale.
Opposition Line Up:
(3-1-4-2) Johansson; Wood (Champion 76), Odoffin, Humphreys (Hull 61); Barlaser (Douglas 70); Ogbene (Durose 70), Wiles (Rathbone 61), Lindsay (Warne 70), Kioso (Holvey 70); Washington, Kayode (Kelly 64). Sub not used: Vickers.
Josh Smith

Season 22/23 Reports