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Report: Chester 0-1 Stags

16 July 2013

Nathan Arnold’s late strike earned Mansfield Town their first victory of pre-season against a resolute Chester side at the Exacta Stadium.

The Stags dominated throughout against the Conference Premier side, with Keiran Murtagh, Arnold and Amari Morgan-Smith amongst the star performers.

The Stags enjoyed plenty of possession in the early exchanges and almost struck within 60 seconds as Arnold fired wide following Murtagh’s low pass.

Chester remained on the back foot and shot-stopper John Danby was called into action when he kept out a low drive by the lively Arnold on 10 minutes.

Trialist Morgan-Smith also impressed in the opening quarter-of-an-hour, but received treatment after a full-blooded challenge with Paul Linwood.

Against the run of play, the hosts nearly registered an opener soon afterwards as Craig Mahon flashed a dangerous free-kick through the six-yard box.

Corners from Mark Williams and Chris Clements came to nothing, before Morgan-Smith enjoyed the best chance of an otherwise forgettable opening half-hour.

Lindon Meikle’s low cross from the right was expertly met on the volley by Morgan-Smith inside the area, with his effort flying narrowly over the target.

The Stags were sparked back into life and Danby just did enough to keep scores level on 33 minutes, when he forced Arnold wide after another precise pass by Murtagh.

Mansfield continued to enjoy plenty of play around the final third, but struggled to create a clear-cut opening against a resolute and well-organised Chester backline.

Nevertheless, the hosts ended the first half with a flourish as an unmarked Linwood headed just wide of the target following Jason Jarrett’s right-sided cross.

After the re-start, the visitors looked slick in possession and a great passing move ended with Murtagh drawing a superb full-stretch save from Danby.

In another move, Paul Black’s close-range effort went high over the woodwork on 53 minutes, as The Stags made inroads, but were unable to make their pressure count.

Ben Hutchinson replaced Jordan Robertson in attack on the hour mark, shortly before Clements drilled a low shot wide of Danby’s left-hand post.

Mansfield retained possession exceptionally well throughout the second half, at times toying with their non-league counterparts, who struggled to win the ball.

Despite much frustration in the final third for The Stags, Chester’s well-organised defence was finally breached with a quarter-of-an-hour left.

Murtagh marvellously beat two men with a fabulous run down the right flank and his delivery into the six-yard box found Arnold, who duly slotted home.

The hosts enjoyed a series of set-pieces in the late stages, but were unable to find the net as Mansfield ultimately ran out worthy winners.

Team: Deakin, Kelly (Marsden), Black, Clements, Pilkington, Sutton, Meikle, Murtagh, Robertson (Hutchinson), Morgan-Smith (Thomas), Arnold.

Attendance: 802

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