Attendance: 3271 (1433 from Sheffield United)
Date: 21 July 2018
STAGS IMPRESS HUGELY AGAIN AGAINST SHEFFIELD UNITED
Martin Shaw at the One Call Stadium, Field Mill
Mansfield Town put in another hugely encouraging display against Championship opposition this afternoon in a pre-season friendly at the One Call Stadium, this time against Sheffield United in a 0-0 draw. The Stags were excellent, working terrifically hard, and received high praise from Blades manager Chris Wilder after the game who said Mansfield were “outstanding and deserved to win”. Mansfield defended solidly with Krystian Pearce, Matt Preston and Hayden White really looking good, and Conrad Logan made two super saves. The Stags’ shape when Sheffield United had the ball was really good. The Stags were also inventive going forward through Jacob Mellis and others. Up front Craig Davies impressed with exceptional hold up play and workrate, but he lacked clinical finishing on a couple of occasions where he should have scored.
Mansfield again employed a 3-5-2 formation, as they have in every pre-season friendly so far, and clearly will do so when the season starts. The team that started today was:
Hayden White, Matt Preston (new signing from Swindon), Krystian Pearce;
CJ Hamilton, Jacob Mellis, Neal Bishop (new signing from Scunthorpe), Otis Khan (new signing from Yeovil), Mal Benning;
Tyler Walker (season loan from Forest), Craig Davies (new signing from Oldham).
This represented two changes from the starting XI against Derby: Hamilton and Mellis replacing Atkinson and MacDonald. Bishop sat in front of the back four. Khan was just behind the strikers. Left-footed CJ Hamilton was at right-wing back.
The team that ended the game (3-5-2):
Hayden White, Matt Preston (new signing from Swindon), Lewis Gibbens (youngster);
Will Atkinson, Calum Butcher, Alex MacDonald, Omari Sterling-James, CJ Hamilton;
Lee Angol, Jordan Graham (youngster).
The players missing were Rose (injured, will play in a behind closed doors match at Hull on Wednesday), Mirfin (out until Christmas), Diamond (also revealed this week as injured), and Anderson (who was injured in Portugal and played a couple of games with the U21 side this week just to get minutes). Also missing was trialist Nathan Cameron who will have a scan on Monday to determine the scale of the injury he picked up on Wednesday against Derby. Paul Digby was on the bench but did not come on, and was doing some running after the game with Danny Rose.
Sheffield United included former Stags loan player Kieron Freeman.
Once again, the game was played in wonderful weather, on a bowling green of a pitch.
In the first minute, Hamilton made a great run down the right, and played inside to Mellis, but Mellis didn’t shoot from the edge of the box and the chance was gone. A minute later at the other end, Duffy played the ball in and poor defending from Pearce gave a half chance to McGoldrick.
The Stags played the ball in nice triangles to win a corner on 4 minutes.
The first chance of the game on 6 minutes and Conrad Logan pulled off a fine save. Basham put in a ball from the byline on the right, McGoldrick turned it goalwards and Logan sprang to his right to make a wonderful one handed save. A minute later, Preston made a good header away from Enda Stevens’ corner. More good defending by Preston on 9 minutes, White cleared up and set off on a great run to the halfway line where he was fouled.
The Stags’ first chance came on 13 minutes. Nice play on the left between Benning and Khan won a corner. From the corner, Khan took it short to Benning who chipped in a cross which Davies headed over the bar.
On 15 minutes, good strong defending from Hamilton to shepherd out for a goalkick. Encouraging to see from Hamilton who will have to do well on defensive duties in a wingback role. A minute later a wonderful challenge by Benning on McGoldrick on the edge of the area.
On 20 minutes, great play by Davies, showing great strength to get the ball to Khan, but Khan’s cross was over everyone.
On 21 minutes, Logan pouched Basham’s low cross as Billy Sharp missed it.
Another chance for the Stags on 24 minutes. Good play from Davies to Benning to Khan, and Khan’s right foot shot from 20 yards was wide of the left post. Nice football. More lovely football 2 minutes later between Khan, Mellis, Davies and Benning on the left but eventually it went out for a goalkick.
Great defending by Pearce on 28 minutes, the Stags broke to the far end and were gifted a corner by the wasteful Blades defence. But Khan then wasted the corner, over everyone.
On 29 minutes, Khan put in a great cross from the right, but it just evaded Tyler Walker.
A howler by Logan on 32 minutes, as he gifted the ball straight to Billy Sharp in the area, but Sharp missed an open goal firing over the bar. Dreadful football all round. Moments later, John Fleck sent an awful shot miles over the bar.
Sheffield United won a free kick 30 yards from goal, but had no interest in sending a set piece into the box, instead just knocking the ball around. This will not replicate what we’ll see when we get to league matches. I do have a slight concern that I’ve mentioned before that none of our friendlies are against sides from a similar level to League Two (ie League One or Conference).
A good chance for Davies on 35 minutes. Mellis played a great ball into Davies, who cut inside two defenders but Basham slid in with a great block to block his shot. Just a fraction too slow.
On 38 minutes, a great ball forward from Mellis to Davies put him through 1-on-1, but he took too long and his shot was blocked by Stearman through to the keeper. Davies should have scored both chances and his all-round good play lacked that killer finish.
On 40 minutes, great physical strength from Davies to win a free kick. Two minutes later, Mellis tried a ball forward to Davies which was just too far ahead of him, but nearly great play.
Logan pulled off a second super save on 43 minutes. Duffy fired in a 25 yard shot towards the left of the net and Logan tipped wide for a corner.
On 45 minutes, Pearce did well to block off Sharp for a corner,
Generous applause for the Stags at half time for a very encouraging performance. Solid defending from Mansfield, and some nice invention creating a few chances, which just missed some clinical finishing. Sheffield United looked very rusty, this was their first public pre-season friendly. However they had quality players playing and Mansfield had held their shape well to blunt their effectiveness.
Half time 0-0
During the half time interval, Dean Foulkes and I enjoyed a nice cake each from Carolyn and John to celebrate their anniversary. Thanks, they were lovely and had photos of the couple on the cake itself! See my twitter feed if you want to see a photo. Happy anniversary guys. If anyone else wants to send in cakes to the commentary time to enjoy at half time a la cricket’s Test Match Special, you know the address!
Mansfield made two changes at the break: Angol for Walker, and MacDonald for Bishop. Walker had not really got into the game, as he hadn’t in previous games so far. Bishop had been nice and tidy in front of the back four.
Sheffield United had a goal disallowed on 47 minutes. Enda Stevens’ shot from 18 yards was half-stopped by Logan, it squirmed behind him and Billy Sharp knocked the loose ball into the net, but Sharp was offside.
It was noticeable that Mansfield were pressing Sheffield United now, just as they had pressed Derby leading to that first goal on Wednesday night.
Hamilton made a great run on 49 minutes down the right with electric pace, but he put in a terrible cross. A bit too typical of CJ that. Of course, playing at right wing back means he will be crossing with his weaker foot, unless he cuts back onto his left, in which case he might then have lost the benefit of outpacing his defender.
On 53 minutes, a ball forward from the Blades to the edge of the area and Preston was harshly adjudged to have committed a foul. The free kick, from just outside the box from Evans was straight into Logan’s midriff.
More super pressing from Mansfield on 58 minutes won a free kick 30 yards out. MacDonald’s free kick was blocked for a corner.
MacDonald looked like a man possessed. He won the ball with typical aggression on 60 minutes.
Butcher replaced Mellis, and Sterling-James replaced Khan on 62 minutes. Sheffield United made 5 changes. Alan Wilson helpfully announced that 5 Sheffield United players had replaced 5 other Sheffield United players. Ha ha, love it Alan.
A chance for the Blades on 65 minutes. A free kick from the right, Duffy headed back across goal, and Basham bashed a shot over the bar from 5 yards.
Straight to the other end and a long ball forward for Angol who went past the keeper but out for a goalkick, though the linesman signalled for handball by Angol anyway.
Then on 69 minutes, Ricky Holmes found Lundstrum who fired over the bar from 25 yards.
Great play by Pearce a minute later, winning the ball and embarking on a marauding run before playing a 1-2 with Davies.
Another chance for the Blades on 71 minutes. Stevens played in a low cross, Baldock missed his kick and it fell to Holmes who fired over from 12 yards.
There was a great atmosphere being created by Q block, aided by a drum.
Atkinson replaced Benning, and Olejnik replaced Logan, on 73 minutes. Hamilton switched sides to left wing back.
Great energy from Sterling-James on 75 minutes as he won the ball off Leon Clarke. Then more super play from Sterling-James 3 minutes later.
Jordan Graham replaced Davies on 79 minutes. Davies’ hold up play and workrate had been exceptional, but he should have scored.
Lewis Gibbens replaced Pearce on 82 minutes. Pearce had been very good.
Mansfield went close to a winner on 83 minutes. Sterling-James flighted a lovely free kick into the box from the left and Preston glanced a header just wide.
On 85 minutes, another chance to win it. Brilliant play from MacDonald to win the ball on the halfway line, he played the ball to Jordan Graham who ran towards goal. Graham had Butcher in space on his right but went for a shot, which hit Angol and went wide.
A minute later, more great play from Sterling-James who was really catching the eye, as he won a free kick. Then on 86 minutes, White got to the byline on the right but his cross was cleared.
The Blades nearly won it on 89 minutes as Gibbens and White got in each other’s way, and Ryan Leonard stabbed a shot wide. Moments later more great play from MacDonald to win the ball again.
Full time and a great reception from Stags fans for a very fine performance.
Some promising performances from the Stags in the second half with Sterling-James excellent, MacDonald aggressive and impressive, and Angol and Graham both doing well up front again.
Two more friendlies at the One Call Stadium before the big season opener against Newport in a fortnight. The next is on Tuesday night (7.30pm) when Sheffield Wednesday come to town. Don’t get your Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s mixed up!
Report by: Martin Shaw at the One Call Stadium, Field Mill
Conrad Logan - Two really super saves. One howler gifted a chance to Billy Sharp which he fluffed.
Hayden White - One again looked really good on the right of a defensive three.
Matt Preston - Several good bits of defending. One chance when he headed just wide. Continues to look a very solid signing.
Krystian Pearce - Very good game with several good pieces of defending. One mistake.
CJ Hamilton - Right wing-back. A few good runs. Did his defensive duties well.
Jacob Mellis - Inventive. Several good balls to put Davies in.
Neal Bishop - Nice and tidy in front of the back four.
Otis Khan - Overall did very well, though wasted some crosses.
Mal Benning - Some good interplay with Khan on the left. Some good defending.
Tyler Walker - Didn’t really get into the game, as he hasn’t in previous games so far.
Craig Davies - Impressed with exceptional hold up play and workrate, but lacked clinical finishing on a couple of occasions where he should have scored.
Sub Line Up:
Angol (for Walker, 46 mins) - Looked lively up front again.
MacDonald (for Bishop, 46 mins) - Excellent, mixing aggression with tenacity in midfield.
Butcher (for Mellis, 62 mins) - Did ok.
Sterling-James (for Khan, 62 mins) - Excellent and really caught the eye with great energy and tricky play.
Atkinson (for Benning, 73 mins) -
Olejnik (for Logan, 73 mins) -
Graham (for Davies, 79 mins) - Looked good again, he’s going to be some player.
Gibbens (for Pearce, 82 mins) -
By the way, I listed the squad numbers in the report for the Derby game. There is one change to them as Lee Angol has subsequently requested to change his squad number from 23 to 33. That’s fine Lee, we realise you’re targeting 33 league goals this season rather than 23. Angol initially had a squad number of 94 while in Portugal, and that was just unrealistic!
Opposition Line Up:
(4-4-2): Henderson, Freeman (Leonard 61); Basham, Stearman, O’Connell, Stevens; Evans (Lundstram 61), Fleck (Baldock 61), Duffy (Lavery 81); McGoldrick (Holmes 61), Sharp (Clark 61). Subs not used: Moore, Egan, Norrington-Davies.