Mansfield Town’s under 21s were defeated 2-1 by Hartlepool United in their final pre-season friendly yesterday afternoon.
A serious road traffic accident on the A1 northbound caused major delays and the Stags finally arrived at Maiden Castle after an arduous five-hour coach journey.
Both sides fielded mixed sides, containing under 21 and under 18 players, as the game kicked off an hour late on a very warm afternoon in County Durham.
The first half was fairly evenly matched as both sides weighed each other up and there was very little goalmouth action as the heat dictated the tempo of the game.
But there was a flurry of activity just before the break which saw the home side take the lead on 42 minutes.
Pools’ centre-forward Liam Travis ran onto a through ball and opened the scoring for the home side with a well-placed finish from ten yards out which beat goalkeeper Adam Hassan.
Youth team midfielder Cain Smith then crashed a 25-yard shot against the underside of the crossbar less than a minute later, but the referee deemed that the whole of the ball hadn't crossed the goal line as the home side cleared it up field.
The second half was far more eventful with attacking midfielder Tom Marriott going close when he curled a shot against the left-hand post after exchanging passes with Smith just outside the home side’s penalty area.
Striker Ashanti Pryce angled a cross towards fellow striker Tyler Blake and Smith, but the bounce of the ball evaded them both and the latter knocked it narrowly wide as he struggled to get any power into his effort.
The Stags were on level terms on the hour when Blake was tripped and the referee pointed to the spot for a penalty.
Blake dusted himself down and powered the ball towards the bottom left-hand corner, but United's 'keeper got down well to make a good save but he could only divert the ball into the path on the onrushing Pryce, who instinctively followed the ball in and netted into the right-hand corner from the rebound.
After a tight 17 minutes, Liam Travis put the home side back in front on 77 minutes when he diverted a left wing cross over the line from twelve yards with a well-placed finish.
In a lively finale to the game, the Stags almost drew level when defender Kieran Harrison shot narrowly over the bar before Pryce saw his effort deflected wide after some good build up play between midfielder Henri Wilder and left-back Louis Danquah.
Full-time: Hartlepool United 2-1 Stags
Stags will begin their Central League campaign next Tuesday with a match away at Rotherham United (2.00pm kick-off), for which details will be announced in due course.