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Season 17/18 Stagsnet Match Report
Pre-Season Friendly
Mansfield Town  
2 - 1
 Rotherham United
Davies pen 9, Walker 41.
 Raggett 12.
Attendance: 2083 (466 from Rotherham)
Date: 28 July 2018


Martin Shaw at the One Call Stadium, Field Mill

Mansfield Town finished the pre-season programme with another win against a Championship club at the One Call Stadium, beating Rotherham United 2-1 this afternoon. Results on their own are unimportant in pre-season but the level of performance against four Championship club in winning three games and drawing the other gives optimism for the coming season in League Two. Whilst Derby, Sheffield United and Sheffield Wednesday had been content to knock the ball around and keep possession in a style we’re unlikely to see in League Two, Rotherham were much more direct, looking to get the ball forward and playing more in the style of a League Two club. In that respect, this was a hugely useful workout. Mansfield won the game with first half goals from Craig Davies, a penalty after Mal Benning had been bundled over, and strike partner Tyler Walker who scored with a great left footed finish. It was the first goal in pre-season for both Davies and Walker. In between those goals, Rotherham scored with a free header from Sean Raggett from a corner, as he headed home unmarked. Disappointing defending that from Mansfield, but the Stags tightened up the defence after that with Matt Preston, especially, in fantastic form. However there was worrying news about Preston’s defensive partner Krystian Pearce after the game. Pearce was substituted on 39 minutes after he had been tended to by the physio. After the game boss David Flitcroft explained that Pearce was not “mentally in-tune with the game”, “not totally focussed” and didn’t “commit to the game” in the after-spill of the game against Sheffield Wednesday which ended in that brawl on Tuesday night. Flitcroft later said he would not be signing trialist central defender Nathan Cameron as his injury is not short term but added that he would be looking to sign a loan central defender in addition as “we now have a potential issue with Pearcey”. This suggests that the issue with Pearce may not be short term. We’ll see I suppose. One thing I’m sure of is that the club will do the right thing by Pearce, whatever that is. I’m expecting that we will hear more about this issue on Tuesday. So that’s it for an enjoyable pre-season that started in Portugal and ends with another encouraging performance today. The real stuff starts next Saturday, with the visit of Newport County to Mansfield.

Mansfield again employed a 3-5-2 formation, as they have in every pre-season friendly so far. There were two changes to the starting XI against Sheffield Wednesday. Craig Davies returned to the side having missed the last game due to either being rested or injured (unclear which it was). He replaced Otis Khan, who missed this game due to a sickness bug. The other change was the Calum Butcher started the game in place of Jacob Mellis, who was on the bench. No other changes in the squad for this game. Danny Rose played 30 minutes in a behind closed doors match at Hull on Wednesday, a game Mansfield lost 3-1, and clearly Rose will be behind the rest of the squad in readiness for starting next week against Newport.

The team that started today was:
Conrad Logan;
Hayden White, Matt Preston (new signing from Swindon), Krystian Pearce;
CJ Hamilton, Alex MacDonald, Neal Bishop (new signing from Scunthorpe), Calum Butcher, Mal Benning;
Tyler Walker (season loan from Forest), Craig Davies (new signing from Oldham).

Rotherham, just promoted to the Championship, are managed by former Stags loanee Paul Warne, who has two more former Stags assisting him: Richie Barker and Matt Hamshaw. Lewis Price, keeper who played a handful of games on loan for the Stags in 2014, was on the bench for Rotherham and came on in the second half.

Mansfield played in the smart new away kit of black with gold lettering. Conrad Logan’s keeper shirt is bright orange.

After the boiling hot weather we’ve had since before we went to Portugal, it was quite a change to be a lot cooler today (it was 11 degrees when I got back to my car before 6pm). And it was windy too, this was much more like the football season!

On 3 minutes, Mansfield had the ball in the net. Davies headed the ball forward, Butcher knew he was offside and so left the ball. Because Butcher did not go for the ball, the flag stayed down. A defender simply left it too, so Butcher put it into the net, at which point the linesman finally put his flag up.

The Stags were ahead on 9 minutes. Great play by Hamilton down the right, he cut back onto his left foot, and crossed to the left where Benning controlled the ball and was brought down by Forde for a penalty. Davies stepped up and slid the ball into the right of the net as the keeper dived the wrong way.

Rotherham were level on 12 minutes. Forde’s corner from the left was met by Raggett who headed into the net from 7 yards. Poor defending from Mansfield. I could not tell who was supposed to be marking Raggett, but it seemed to be either Pearce or Preston.

More poor marking from Mansfield on 17 minutes as Forde sent a high hanging cross to the far post where there was no marking, Logan didn’t get there and Vassell headed over the bar. Good defending from White on 19 minutes as Michael Smith got to the byline and put in a low cross which White put behind for a corner.

A great turn from Butcher 35 yards from goal on 26 minutes and he slid the ball forward for Davies but it was just overhit. Inventive play nonetheless.

On 28 minutes, Vaulks fired in a shot from 22 yards which Logan saved and did well to hold on to. A minute later, Forde’s corner from the left came out to Palmer on the edge of the box and he fired over the bar. Poor marking from Mansfield to leave him unmarked.

Great play from Mansfield on 31 minutes following good play from Butcher and Davies, as Butcher chested down to Benning who volleyed just over the bar. A great effort.

On 32 minutes, Preston made a mistake but he recovered well to put the ball behind for a corner. Better defending from this corner as Preston cleared. On 37 minutes, Forde made space for himself just outside the area, got the ball on to his left foot and curled just wide of the angle of bar and post.

Pearce was down seemingly injured on 39 minutes and tended to by the physio. He was taken off but, as noted above, it was not a physical injury. He was replaced by Gibbens.

Mansfield retook the lead on 41 minutes. Good play from White and Hamilton on the right hand side. White flicked the ball inside, Walker got on the end of it, stepped inside and fired a super left footed finish into the net from 13 yards. Neither Walker nor Davies had previously scored in pre-season so this was a good confidence boost for both.

On 44 minutes, White chipped a free kick from 45 yards into the area where MacDonald found himself unmarked but he couldn’t control the ball and it ran through to the keeper.

Another corner for Rotherham on the stroke of half time which Preston headed away. Much better defending from the Stags.

The Stags ahead at the break.

Half time 2-1

Mellis replaced Butcher for the second half. It was now raining.

On 51 minutes, a good header away by MacDonald. A minute later, Forde crossed in from the right, White headed away and Vassell volleyed high and wide. Smith went down in the area on 53 minutes and claimed a penalty but the referee waved away his appeals.

On 55 minutes, Purrington was brought down by MacDonald on the left for a free kick. Forde’s free kick into the area was decisively punched away by Logan. Then Newell controlled well but volleyed miles over the bar.

On 57 minutes, an inventive ball from Mellis out towards Hamilton but Hamilton couldn’t quite keep the ball in play.

On 60 minutes, Smith crossed from the left, Billy Jones headed down and Logan saved low on his line.

Rotherham made six substitutions on 62 minutes including bringing on goal keeper Lewis Price. They were to make a further two changes on 68 minutes.

Mansfield made a double change on 62 minutes as Angol replaced Walker, and Sterling-James replaced Bishop.

Good defending by White on 65 minutes, and then a good run into the opposition half by Sterling-James.

Logan dived to his left to save comfortably from Williams’ low shot from 16 yards on 78 minutes.

Graham replaced Davies on 78 minutes. Good applause for Davies for his high work rate.

Rotherham went close to an equaliser on 82 minutes. David Ball slid the ball forward to Jamie Procter who chipped over Logan and just wide of the left post. A good effort.

Rotherham went close again on 88 minutes. A corner from the right was headed back across goal by Proctor and Ihiekwe headed wide from four yards.

A good move from the Stags moments later at the other end as Graham laid off, it came back to MacDonald who fired over the bar from 25 yards. On 90 minutes, another great clearance from Preston who’d had a superb game. A final chance of the game came to Mansfield a minute into stoppage time as Benning volleyed well wide from 30 yards.

Another really encouraging performance from Mansfield. Mansfield’s defending was poor early on but improved after that with Preston outstanding. I had mentioned previously my concerns about Mansfield’s opposition in pre-season (no team in the league above or below League Two) and whilst indeed Derby, Sheffield United and Sheffield Wednesday knocked the ball from side to side repeatedly, Rotherham provided opposition much more like a League Two side. This game was therefore very important for Mansfield. Now on to the real stuff, as the league starts next Saturday.

Man of the match: Matt Preston

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

Line Up:
Logan - A couple of good saves, and one decisive punch away. Misjudged one cross which Vassell headed over the bar.
White - Another very good game from him in central defence. Several pieces of good defending. Linked well with Hamilton on the right. Good play in the build-up to the second goal.
Preston - Outstanding game with so many headers away, after a slightly dodgy start.
Pearce - Worrying news about him after the game, see opening paragraph.
Hamilton - Great run and cross in the build-up to the penalty. Continued to impress at right wing-back.
MacDonald - Did ok.
Bishop - Another good solid game. Looking assured in a defensive midfield role.
Butcher - Lovely chest down to Benning who fired just over the bar. Had a decent first half and looks a much better player than we saw last season. Subbed at the break.
Benning - Another very good game at left wing-back. Has had a very good pre-season. Super play to win the penalty. One good shot just over the bar.
Walker - Great goal, which is important for his confidence. Improved a lot in the final two games of pre-season.
Davies - Great workrate and strength. Held the ball up well. Took his penalty confidently.
Sub Line Up:
Gibbens (for Pearce, 39 minutes) - Once again did not look out for place. Calm and composed on the left side of central defence.
Mellis (for Butcher, 46 minutes) - Brought a bit more creativity to the side from midfield in the second half, and for that reason I would start him in the league.
Angol (for Walker, 62 minutes) -
Sterling-James (for Bishop, 62 minutes) -
Graham (for Davies, 78 minutes) -

Subs not used: Olejnik, Digby, Atkinson.

Opposition Line Up:
(4-4-2): Rodak (Price 62); Jones (Ihiekwe 70), Raggett (Vyner 46), Robertson (Wood 62), Purrington (Mattock 62); Forde (Taylor 62), Vaulks (Ajayi 46), Palmer (Wiles 62), Newell (Williams 62); Vassell (Proctor 70), Smith (Ball 62).
Darren England

Season 17/18 Reports