Mansfield Town’s fiery pre-season clash against Hednesford Town ended goalless this afternoon, yet there were plenty of positives to take from the match, in which the Stags were largely dominant.
A selection of mostly first team players made the trip down to Keys Park today, in what was one of three games that a side representing Mansfield took part in this afternoon.
From the off, the Stags looked to take the game to the hosts, with tricky winger CJ Hamilton immediately beating his man to find himself in a crossing position. Unfortunately the wide-man’s delivery was well blocked by the onrushing Galinski.
The visitors, who were overlooked by assistant manager Ben Futcher this afternoon, had another chance to carve the opening goal soon after, but recent signing Otis Khan’s strike from 22 yards was blocked well by a Hednesford defender.
Craig Davies almost set Tyler Walker through on goal in the eighth minute of the affair, as he guided the ball towards the Nottingham Forest loanee from Alex MacDonald’s lofted ball, but the first-time pass had a little too much on it and rolled out for a goal kick.
Walker threatened again a minute later as he latched onto Conrad Logan’s punt despite looking second best when the ball was in the air. The young striker tried to create an opening for himself with some tricky footwork but was challenged well by Gatter.
Both sides showed that the term ‘friendly’ did not necessarily relate to the nature of the contest, as several players from each team committed well-timed, yet firm challenges in a short space of time.
Despite the scrappy period, Stags still managed to create chances, with the next coming from Walker. The ever-present MacDonald curled a cross to the back post, where the striker intelligently used the back of his head to divert an effort just past the post.
Throughout the match, Stags were keen to work the ball from set pieces, with one routine concluding with a shot from Davies outside the box. The move itself was something to savour for Mansfield, but the former Oldham Athletic striker’s effort lacked accuracy.
Despite his side’s dominance, Logan was forced to make two superb saves in quick succession midway through the first-half. In the 27th minute, Joe Fitzpatrick’s strike from just outside the area looked goal-bound, but the Stags’ ‘keeper kept the game level with an acrobatic fingertip stop.
Just moments later, Logan was called into action again, this time rushing out to the feet of Tom Hill to divert his close-range poke onto the post.
Despite having two decent chances to take the lead, Hednesford soon found themselves on the back foot once more, as Hayden White and Hamilton threatened on the right-hand side. The pair linked up with ease to create a crossing opportunity for White, but the defender’s dangerous ball across goal was well-held by goalkeeper James Wren.
This would be the last real opportunity for either side in what was a scrappy first-half at Keys Park.
Stags started the second-half as they began the first, taking the game immediately to the home side. A wonderful move saw Jacob Mellis and Mal Benning link up, before Walker found himself with an opportunity to fire towards goal just outside the Hednesford penalty area. Unfortunately the on-loan Stags’ forward curled his effort just wide of the far post.
Fleet-footed winger Hamilton then found himself with the best opportunity of the contest so far, as Walker’s low ball across the face of goal found the wide-man lurking at the back post, yet he could not direct his effort on target.
Khan found himself with an opportunity soon after, yet his clever chipped effort lacked the power to find the net, after leaving Wren rooted to the spot.
Tempers flared in the match after MacDonald was hacked to the floor by Jed Davies, which typified the fiery nature of the contest. Davies picked up a booking for his challenge, but the Stags’ midfielder also received a caution after an altercation between the pair.
Dynamic midfielder Khan nearly opened the scoring all by himself in the 71st minute, after skipping over several challenges to work a chance at the near post, yet his effort was once again well saved by Wren.
In what was a flurry of chances in the second-half, Walker lined up to fire home at the back post from Benning’s cross, but his volleyed effort sailed over the bar.
The last real chance of the game fell to Mellis after another well-worked set-piece routine by the Stags, yet the former Chelsea man fired straight at Wren who caught, then collapsed onto the ball.
Stags had chances to win the heated affair, but there were more than enough positive signs to take back to One Call Stadium, where we next face Derby County on Wednesday evening.
STAGS’ XI: Logan, White, Preston, Cameron (Wilder 61’), Benning, Hamilton, MacDonald, Mellis, Khan, Walker, Davies.
UNUSED SUB: Hakeem.
HEDNESFORD XI: Wren, Curley, Fox, Fitzpatrick, Galinski, Gatter, Trialist, Craddock, Hill, Hollis, Trialist.