Stags lose to League One opposition at Meadow Lane.Mansfield Town were eliminated from the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy after being beaten 2-0 by local rivals Notts County at Meadow Lane.
Goals from Ronan Murray and Jake Cassidy were enough to see the Sky Bet League One outfit in to the second round on what was a frustrating evening for the Stags.
Paul Cox made four changes for the first round of the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy with Liam Marsden, Chris Clements, Alex Fisher and Simon Heslop coming in for Lee Beevers, the departed Sam Clucas, Ollie Palmer and Jamie McGuire, respectively.
Meanwhile, Stags’ captain and assistant manager Adam Murray was making his 200th appearance for the club.
After a scrappy opening 10 minutes, the first attempt on goal fell to the home side. Ronan Murray picked the ball up 25 yards out and hit a left-footed shot which would have nestled in the bottom corner if it wasn’t for the left-hand of Dimitar Evtimov to turn it round the post.
County midfielder Reece Brown then hit a hopeful effort from 30 yards out that never worried Evtimov in the Stags’ goal.
Notts County were then awarded a free-kick in the Mansfield half, and referee Mark Haywood took out his can of the infamous ‘vanishing spray’ to mark out the Stags’ wall which was met by the loudest cheer of the night so far.
The first card of the night was given to Mike Edwards in the 21st minute for bringing down Matt Rhead 25 yards out after a sloppy pass from Haydn Hollis. From the resulting free-kick, Chris Clements teed up Simon Heslop whose low drive clipped the outside of the post.
The game then sparked in to life as the Magpies hit Mansfield on the counter-attack. Reece Brown drove towards the Stags box before slotting the ball through to Murray who hit a ferocious shot towards the top corner of the Mansfield goal and Evtimov performed a stunning save to keep the scores level.
County then did manage to beat Evtimov. A well worked move between Brown, Cassidy and Murray resulted in the latter producing a good finish as he slotted the ball under the Bulgarian ‘keeper to give the Magpies the lead.
The Magpies almost made it two just after the half-hour mark, Jake Cassidy showed some good footwork to beat Ryan Tafazolli before dragging his shot wide when he probably should’ve done better.
As the minutes passed, the League One side became more confident as they pushed to get their second goal of the evening. Curtis Thompson whipped a good ball in to the box which was met by Reece James whose powerful header flew inches wide of the goal.
The game started to become slightly scrappy with a lot of unnecessary fouls being committed by both sides. The only real chance of note came a minute before half-time when Liam Noble hit a shot from 25 yards out which sailed well wide of Evtimov’s goal.
The referee blew up for half-time with County leading 1-0.
The second half started much how the first ended; with the Nottingham side on top. Gary Jones crossed a ball in to the box and Mike Edwards managed to rise higher than the Mansfield defenders but couldn’t direct his header on target.
A minute later, County took a quick free-kick which found its way to Cassidy who hit his shot straight at Evtimov.
The Stags got their first corner of the night on 51 minutes following some persistent play from Simon Heslop and Liam Marsden whose cross was deflected behind. From the resulting set piece, Matt Rhead met Rob Taylor’s corner but couldn’t direct his header on target.
Mansfield started to build some momentum early in the second half. Evtimov collected a cross from Thompson before arrowing a long kick towards the head of Matt Rhead; the frontman flicked the ball on to Alex Fisher who brought the ball down on his chest and hit a half-volley which Spiess did well to hold.
The Stags started to enjoy exerting some pressure on the Magpies as they won another corner thanks to some good work by Alex Fisher. Spiess punched away the resulting corner but the ball fell to Rob Taylor whose volley was blocked by a crowd of bodies in the County area.
Clements then hit a good cross towards Fisher, but the ball just evaded the ex-Monza man.
All the Stags’ hard work was then undone as County doubled their lead. The Mansfield midfield switched off and allowed County to take a quick free-kick as Reece Brown slid the ball through to Jake Cassidy who rode his luck through two challenges before calmly rolling the ball underneath Dimitar Evtimov.
Paul Cox then reacted by making the first change of the night, with Ollie Palmer replacing Alex Fisher in the 66th minute.
On his 200th appearance for the club, captain/assistant manager Adam Murray was booked for a challenge on Brown.
In the 73rd minute, Fergus Bell replaced Chris Clements.
A long, cross-field ball by Ryan Tafazolli found Matt Rhead in the box who directed his header back across the face of goal to Ollie Palmer. The substitute’s delicate header was saved by Fabian Speiss as it was heading towards the bottom corner.
County then made their first change of the evening in the 76th minute as Jake Cassidy made way for Shaun Harrad.
Notts County had a golden opportunity to make it three when Gary Jones’ cross was helped on by Murray before it fell to Curtis Thompson who volleyed over the bar with the goal at his mercy.
A second change for the home side arrived in the 83rd minute with Nicky Wroe replacing Liam Noble.
Cox was forced in to making his third and final change of the night as Liam Marsden was replaced by Lee Beevers after picking up a knock.
There was a late chance for Adam Murray to mark his 200th appearance with a goal but his shot went wide of Fabian Speiss’ goal. Fergus Bell crossed the ball in from the right towards Matt Rhead who laid the ball off for Murray but the skipper couldn’t keep his shot on target.
Attendance: 3,701 (1,386 away supporters).