Mansfield Town reserves were in action today, running out 5-2 winners over Rotherham United reserves, with striker Ricky Miller scoring a hat-trick in a strong Stags lineup.
Stags finished the game with ten men after Lewis Gibbens was sent off in the 71st minute, but were the stronger side throughout and earned a deserved victory.
The amber and blue fielded a strong outfit for the game, featuring the likes of Miller, Krystian Pearce, Alfie Potter and Paul Anderson.
Stags started the game immediately on the front foot, with Potter finding joy on the right-wing. He picked up the ball in space, and flashed the ball across the face of goal.
Miller, who featured in the 2-1 loss to Luton Town on Monday, broke through in the 13th minute of the game, but his dinked effort was scooped off the line.
Bobby Olejnik was called into action for the first time five minutes later, but he reacted well to save a Rotherham free-kick at his near post.
Stags then created a flurry of chances, with the first falling to Potter. He danced through the Rotherham defence, before seeing his effort well saved by Laurence Bilboe.
Moments later, Miller tried his luck from range, but could not keep his shot down. Adam King had the next chance of the affair as the ball bounced towards him in the box, yet his connection with the ball was not clean and failed to trouble Bilboe.
However, Stags did not have to wait much longer for their breakthrough goal. Anderson and Miller linked up superbly on the left-hand side of the pitch, before the former broke through and finished neatly to put Mansfield ahead.
The half came to a close soon after, with Anderson’s goal standing as the difference between the two sides.
Stags started the second-half as the more dominant side once more, but found themselves level with Rotherham in the 49th minute. The visitors found space on the break, and Joshua Kayode reached the resulting cross first to head home.
Rotherham were not level for long, though, as Miller scored his first of the afternoon in the 56th minute. After a scrappy period in the Rotherham box, the ball fell to Miller who fired home to give Stags the lead.
Ten minutes later Rotherham equalised again, this time through Jerry Yates. He pounced on a loose ball and slid his finish under the onrushing Olejnik.
It then got worse for Stags as Gibbens was shown a straight red card. As Kayode closed in on goal, the Stags' defender pulled him back, giving the referee no choice but to produce the red for preventing a goal-scoring opportunity.
Despite playing 20 minutes with ten men, Stags finished the game strongly. Miller found the back of the net again soon after to give the home side the lead. Paul Digby tried tackling his way to goal inside the six-yard box, but the ball ended up falling kindly for Miller who poked home from close range.
Miller then nearly scored a competitor for goal of the season. He brought the ball down well before spinning his marker with ease, then clipped the underside of the bar with a chipped effort from 20-yards.
It would have been a superb way to get his hat-trick, but thankfully the striker bagged his third of the afternoon soon after. He drove into the Rotherham penalty area and slid the ball under Bilboe to put the game to bed for Stags.
Stags further compounded the misery on Rotherham in the last minute, though, as Jason Law scored his second goal in as many games. Jordan Graham’s drilled cross from the right-wing was inch perfect and found Law at the back post who had the simple task of slotting home into an empty net.
STAGS’ XI: Olejnik; Thomas, Digby, Pearce (Gibbens 45'), Benning; Potter (Graham 45'), Ward (Smith 63'), King, Byrom; Anderson (Law 70'); Miller.
UNUSED SUBS: Xavier Sundby
Post-match interviews with hat-trick hero Ricky Miller and academy coach Richard Cooper will be available to view for iFollow Stags subscribers later today. Log in to iFollow here.