Stags triumph 5-1 at Rainworth Miners Welfare in first pre-season game.
Mansfield Town regained the Green Energy Challenge Trophy following a comfortable 5-1 victory over Rainworth Miners Welfare in the first pre-season clash of the new campaign at Kirklington Road.
Anthony Dwyer opened the scoring in the first half, but Rainworth drew level through ex-Stags youth teamer Lewis Chambers five minutes later.
A new eleven after the re-start tore into the hosts with Craig Westcarr putting Adam Murray’s team ahead on 56 minutes, before he claimed a hat-trick of assists – feeding Adi Yussuf twice, and also Nicky Hunt.
The Stags got proceedings underway and almost opened the scoring inside the first five minutes. Joe Fitzpatrick got things going as he sprayed an inviting pass out towards Liam Marsden on the right flank. The 20-year-old looked up and put a ball straight onto the head of Chris Beardsley, whose six-yard header went inches wide.
Adam Murray’s team continued to dictate play against the Northern Counties East League opponents with Nathan Thomas and Marsden looking particularly threatening.
However, the Wrens squandered a great opportunity to open the scoring on the quarter-hour mark as Liam Morris capitalised on a slip by Lee Collins and found himself clean through – only to then waste his big chance by firing over the top of Scott Shearer’s goal.
Mansfield then went straight up the other end and put Rainworth under pressure with Thomas showing some neat touches to beat a couple of players and lay a ball off towards Anthony Dwyer, who delivered a teasing ball towards the back-post which got cleared away.
More good work by new signing Thomas saw the visitors win their second corner of the game on 23 minutes. After Adam Chapman’s initially delivery was partially cleared away, Fitzpatrick then won another flag-kick, from which Thomas delivered a teasing ball through the six-yard box, but nobody could connect.
Two minutes later, Thomas Pereira registered a shot on target for the Wrens when he curled a 25-yard free-kick over the wall, but it was comfortable for Scottish shot-stopper Shearer.
Despite it being quite a hot afternoon with temperatures well in excess of 20 degrees, energy levels by both teams seemed high and the Stags soon registered another shot on target when young Tom Marriott broke through and drew a diving save from Nathan Burrows in the hosts’ goal.
The Stags then registered their first goal of the new campaign on the stroke of the half-hour mark. Dwyer had the simplest of finishes from 10 yards after some great skill by Thomas, who embarked on a jinking run and played a defence-splitting ball during the build up.
It could have been 2-0 just a few moments later as Marriott had an effort blocked by a Wrens defender, before the ball ricocheted towards Dwyer, whose resulting attempt got cleared at the back-post.
Against the run of play, Rainworth levelled things up on 34 minutes.
Lewis Chambers burst away down the right flank and was just about to unleash a shot when he was bundled over by Louis Danquah – the result of which saw the Wrens awarded a penalty.
The ex-Stags youth teamer retained his composure from the subsequent spot-kick and although Shearer guessed the right way, Chambers put the ball right in the right-hand corner – out of the ‘keeper’s reach.
Angry at having conceded so quickly, Mansfield then pressed forward with intent and registered two or three further opportunities before the break.
Thomas showed yet more good skill and forced the Wrens ‘keeper into action with a 20-yard shot, before Beardsley was unlucky not to grab his first goal back in amber and blue colours – heading a couple of feet wide having showed great purchase and ability to reach another right-sided cross by Marsden.
The Stags fielded a completely different team in the second half with youth team ‘keeper Sam Wilson and new signings Nicky Hunt, Mal Benning, Mitch Rose, Craig Westcarr and Adi Yussuf amongst those introduced.
Lambe and Westcarr combined in the early stages of the second half in a move which resulted in the Bermuda international getting through on goal, but his goalbound shot was kept out by the trailing leg of the Rainworth ‘keeper.
As expected, Mansfield remained on the front foot in terms of possession and pressure and re-took the lead in fortuitous circumstances as Benning played a teasing ball into the box, which diverted off Westcarr and into the back of the net.
Murray’s second half team played some good football and in a free-flowing move, Yussuf and Jack Thomas combined, before the latter fed a ball towards Westcarr on the edge of the area. The experienced striker unleashed a first time shot which narrowly cleared the upright.
Nevertheless, it wasn’t long before Westcarr made another contribution, this time in a move which saw the Stags make it 3-1. Hunt was the scorer, slipping the ball past a stranded ‘keeper from 10 yards after he had reached the end of a lovely well-weighted through ball by the ex-Pompey man.
Westcarr claimed his second assist of the afternoon on 70 minutes, as the Stags made it 4-1 thanks to Yussuf, who slid the ball home from a similar position to the one which Hunt had scored from in the previous venture forward.
Mansfield continued to look dangerous going forward – causing their hosts no end of problems. Westcarr and Yussuf were combing well and they soon linked up again to good effect – with the older of the pair providing a ball through for the ex-Oxford City man, who finished nonchalantly from eight yards to make it 5-1.
On the brink of injury-time, Benning almost scored a sixth goal as he turned, twist and unleashed a wicked shot from a tight angle which a very good save from the hosts’ keeper.
Team (First Half): Shearer, Marsden, Collins, Trialist, Danquah, Dwyer, Chapman, Fitzpatrick, N.Thomas, Marriott, Beardsley.
Team (Second Half): Wilson, Hunt, Tafazolli, Shires, Benning, Rose, J.Thomas, Clements, Lambe, Westcarr, Yussuf.