Stags’ manager Adam Murray said today’s draw with Alfreton Town forced his side to deal with a more physical threat compared to their previous pre-season fixtures.
An early goal from striker Matt Green was cancelled out by Reds’ frontman Adam Priestley just before the half-hour mark on a warm summer’s day at the Impact Arena.
And the gaffer says the game was an opportunity for his side to prepare for the physical nature of League Two, with defenders George Taft and Krystian Pearce being forced to defend against a number of high balls.
“We knew that this would be our most realistic game; it was physical at times and we had to deal with a lot of direct balls which we haven’t had to probably come across so far [during] this pre-season,” Murray said.
“So we knew it would be more of a League Two style game, which we wanted. It was a good test for us, I felt at times we could’ve been better at a few things but it was good to see the areas that we need to work on and I think we showed some really good play at times.
“I think the amount of direct balls we had to cope with, and we haven’t come across that in pre-season yet, so defensively it showed us things that we need to work on, which we wanted.”
The 34-year-old Stags’ chief selected an unnamed trialist in his starting XI against Alfreton and he praised the left-back’s performance, whilst also admitting that he hasn’t ‘isolated’ one area which he feels he needs to strengthen before the season’s curtain raiser against Newport on 06 August.
“I thought he did really well, [he was] technically very good, very combative. I thought he had a very good performance, to come in and just play with a new group of lads is tough and I think the two left-backs we’ve seen have been pleasing.
“Obviously Mal’s injured at the minute so the left-back’s come in, we haven’t got another left-back at the club so hence why we’ve had two on trial.
“If we can [bring someone in], obviously we’ve got 20 players so if we can, we’ll look at it, if not we’ll deal with what we’ve got.”
Murray revealed that left-back Mal Benning had been left out of the side as a ‘precaution’ after picking up an injury against Bolton Wanderers last Saturday, whilst also reaffirming his earlier message that every player can still win a starting place at Rodney Parade in a fortnight’s time.
“I’m doing a lot of weighing up at the minute, I’m weighing up who’s going to have the 11 shirts at Newport at the minute.
“I think there’s two weeks to go, there’s a lot of work to do and individuals need to show that they want to be playing in the first game of the season.
“I think there’s certain people that have stepped forward [and] certain people need to do more but, like I say, we’ve still got two weeks to go of work and we’ll see how that goes.”
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