Mansfield Town manager Adam Murray fielded almost all of his first team squad today during a 1-1 draw away at Tamworth.
Almost 200 Stags fans made the journey to the Lamb Ground to witness Murray’s new-look squad, following last Saturday’s 5-1 friendly win at Rainworth.
Stags fell behind in the third minute when former striker Ross Dyer found the net, but parity was restored ten minutes after half time thanks to Nathan Thomas’ beautiful floating effort from the edge of the box.
Scott Shearer began the match in goal, whilst four new defenders: Nicky Hunt Lee Collins, Krystian Pearce and Mal Benning, completed the defensive line-up.
Nippy wing-man Nathan Thomas started on the flanks, along with Reggie Lambe, as Chris Clements, Adam Chapman and Jack Thomas made up a five-man midfield.
Fans’ favourite Matt Green was in attack for the first time after his highly acclaimed return to the club in the summer.
But it was his former team-mate who was to register the game’s first goal after just three minutes
Goalkeeper Scott Shearer’s mis-fired a clearance which was picked up by Tamworth’s Danny Newton just outside the box. He spotted the run of former Stags’ striker Ross Dyer who was left with the simplest task of the afternoon as he slotted the ball into an empty net from short range.
Stags started slowly, gradually getting a foot hold in the game, and had to be alert on 11 minutes when Jed Davis struck on the volley, but it flew behind the goal.
New left-back Mal Benning made two darting runs on the left flank in quick succession, both earning the Stags free kicks after he was felled.
Chapman’s delivery from the second was too strong for the home custodian to hold but he was rescued by his defenders after the fumble.
Benning and Chapman then had attempts at goal just before the half-hour mark but the Lambs’ shot stopper went untested.
Lambe and then Nathan Thomas got in on the shooting act minutes later as Stags began to get into their groove.
It was Green who followed up on Thomas’ effort, but was deemed to be in an active zone and therefore offside.
The two combined moments afterwards, when Thomas’ assist over the top was raced onto by Green, but out came the home ‘keeper to push away the ball with an apparent arm.
It went unnoticed by the referee as the hosts entered the break with a slender advantage.
After the break, Chris Beardsley and Craig Westcarr replaced Matt Green and Jack Thomas.
Stags started the second period in much brighter fashion than the first, with two corners being won inside the opening six minutes.
On 52 minutes, new signing Krystian Pearce appeared to take a knock and was replaced by Ryan Tafazolli.
Mansfield’s pressure paid off shortly afterwards, when, on 55 minutes, Nathan Thomas picked up the ball on the edge of the box, before delivering a delicious floating finish into the corner of the goal.
Beardsley then swung a left-wing ball into the box but Craig Westcarr was unable to get enough purchase on his header to seriously test the goalkeeper.
Adam Murray made sweeping changes as young goalkeeper Sam Wilson replaced Scott Shearer. A new youthful backline consisted of Liam Marsden, Corbin Shires and Conor Green, aided by Ryan Tafazolli.
Mitchell Rose, Jamie McGuire and Joe Fitzpatrick were introduced to the midfield, and Adi Yussuf was sent up front.
Tamworth should have regained the lead on 71 minutes, but somehow they placed the ball wide following a corner into the goal area.
Adi Yussuf, looking lively, had two efforts on goal but were both thwarted by the goalkeeper.
Stags did muster up two corners in the dying embers of the match, but Tamworth held out for the draw.
FIRST HALF: Shearer, Hunt, Collins, Pearce, Benning, N.Thomas, Clements, Lambe, Chapman, J. Thomas, M. Green.
SECOND HALF: Shearer (Wilson 68), Hunt (Marsden 68), Collins (Shires), Pearce (Tafazolli 53), Benning (Green 68), N.Thomas (Rose 68), Clements (McGuire 68), Lambe (Yussuf 68), Chapman (Fitzpatrick 68), Westcarr (H/T), Beardsley (H/T).