A late goal consigned a youthful Mansfield Town XI to a 1-0 defeat to Carlton Town.
In an even contest, the Stags, led by youth team boss John Dempster and coach Mark Peters, had the better of the opening 45 minutes with Corbin Shires and Chris Spencer both going close.
Carlton dominated after the re-start and picked up a morale boosting friendly win – scoring during a goalmouth scramble in the closing stages.
The Stags began the game on the front foot and forced their Evo-Stik Division One (South) opponents into plenty of defending during the early exchanges.
The first goalscoring opportunity fell to skipper for the night Corbin Shires, who got on the end of a corner by Joe Fitzpatrick and saw his goalbound header cleared off the line by a defender.
In total, Mansfield forced three corners inside the opening five minutes, but didn’t work Carlton ‘keeper Curtis McDonald until the tenth minute when Chris Spencer’s speculative 20-yard strike was comfortably gathered.
Trialist Lewis Ferguson showed some tidy touches on the left flank and when he went on a good run and broke into the area on the quarter-hour mark, only a good, well-timed challenge from a defender stopped him in his tracks.
After two more flag kicks in quick succession, the Stags’ pressure began to ease and the game became more of a midfield battle.
The next chance didn’t occur until after the half-hour mark when McDonald flapped at another of Fitzpatrick’s set-piece delivers and the ball reached Shires, who headed over under pressure.
Dan Fletcher went close to connecting with a good ball into the box by trialist Reece Lucas, whilst Ferguson flashed another cross through a packed six-yard box as the game remained goalless at half-time.
The Millers wore a completely different kit, blue shirts and white shorts, for the second half, whilst they also made a handful of substitutions and changed numbers – making it nearly impossible from a press perspective to know which players was which.
Nevertheless, they looked much stronger and more threatening and Frazer Hampson was called into action twice in quick succession to keep Mansfield on level terms.
The Stags’ chances were sparse, but they went close on 56 minutes when Ferguson was hacked down on the edge of the box and Spencer’s resulting free-kick deflected off the wall to Shires, whose bouncing header warmed the hands of the ‘keeper.
Carlton rallied and created more chances – with one effort clearing Hampson’s woodwork by just a few inches, before the young custodian made a series of impressive stops and commanded his box with good authority to thwart the hosts.
Eventually though, he was beaten – albeit controversially. Two Carlton players had shots saved inside the six-yard box, before the ball was kicked from under Hampson’s hands and into the back of the net from close-range.
The Stags tried their best to get a late equaliser, but the closest they came was when an attempt by Fitzpatrick curled wide following a short one-two with Ferguson.