Stags lose 5-1 to impressive Derby County at One Call Stadium.Our second-string succumbed to a 5-1 defeat to a slick and impressive Derby County in the opening match of the Final Third Development League Cup (Group Stages).
The Rams, who fielded several youth internationals – including Ivan Calero who is on loan from last season’s Champions League finalists Atletico Madrid, were impressive throughout.
Kwame Thomas (2),Omar Mascarell, Jeff Hendrick and Max Lowe were all on target for the Rams, whilst Reggie Lambe got the Stags’ consolation on the stroke of half-time.
However, the most worrying aspect of the evening came with 15 minutes remaining when playmaker Fergus Bell went off with what appeared to be a recurrence of his recent shoulder injury.
After a very tentative opening quarter-of-an-hour, the Stags created a good opening on 17 minutes when Ollie Palmer threaded a perfect pass from midway inside the Rams’ half through to the feet of Alex Fisher, whose powerful attempt deflected wide off Farrewd Rawson.
Derby soon began to apply pressure down at the other end and soon won their first corner as Jack Koczalski headed the ball behind at the near-post following some good build up play down the right flank between Alfie Santos and Luke Hendrie.
And it was from the subsequent that the Rams opened the scoring.
Hendrie whipped the ball in deep and beyond the back-post towards Ivan Calero, who had peeled off into empty space. The Spanish Under 19 international, on loan at the iPro Stadium from Atletico Madrid, headed the ball back across goal – leaving Kwame Thomas with the easiest of tasks from just a yard out.
Although chances were at an absolute premium, the Rams were enjoying some success breaking forward down the right flank, and they squandered a golden opportunity on 30 minutes.
Hendrie provided another good delivery into the head of the area, and although an unmarked Kwame Thomas made a good connection with the ball, the England youngster couldn’t find the target with a header.
The Stags responded with an opportunity of their own on 34 minutes when Ollie Palmer ran at a back-peddling Rams defender, before unleashing a low drive goalwards, which was held by Mitchell.
Nevertheless, the more illustrious visitors unsurprisingly saw more of the ball and doubled their lead seven minutes before the break, when Omar Mascarell’s low 25-yard free-kick went straight through a four man defensive wall and beat Sascha Studer at his near-post.
With the Rams looking the more likely team to add to the score-line, the Stags surprisingly pulled a goal back on the stroke of half-time. Fergus Bell’s great cross from the left channel found Reggie Lambe inside the area, and the Bermuda international had time to guide the ball home and set up an intriguing second half.
Derby continued to play, quick, attacking football after the re-start and came within inches of restoring a two-goal cushion as Jeff Hendrick played an inviting cross through the area. Kwame Thomas gambled and went sliding in, but the ball carried just too much pace and went beyond him.
However, less than four minutes later, Thomas had reason to celebrate as he peeled off the shoulder of Conor Green to meet Lee Naylor’s inch-perfect defence-splitting pass from the opposite flank, and hammered the ball into the roof of the net from only a couple of yards out.
The floodgates looked as if they might be about to open as Derby soon found the target again – this time as Calero provided a simple pass towards the edge of the area for Hendrick, who slid the ball low into the bottom-right corner, beyond a full-stretch Studer.
The Stags ‘keeper still did his best to keep the scores down and palmed away a vicious, swerving drive by Calero, as the visitors broke forward again just past the hour mark.
Steve McClaren, watching on from the stands, will have certainly been impressed by the display of Kwame Thomas and the tricky fleet-footed youngster almost provided a goal for substitute Max Lowe on 68 minutes, but having showed blistering pace to work his way into the area, his team-mate was unable to turn the ball home.
It was pretty much one-way traffic for much of the second half and Lowe eventually made it 5-1 with a quarter-of-an-hour left to play when he thundered home a close-range shot after Kwame Thomas headed down a long left-wing ball into the area by Naylor.
Although there were no more goals, matters went from bad to worse for Mansfield when Bell fell to ground and immediately clutched his shoulder in agony. Despite carrying on for a couple of minutes, the 23-year-old was eventually forced off and had to be replaced by Drew Gibson.