First-half goals from the attacking duo of Craig Davies and Tyler Walker secured an impressive 2-1 victory over Championship outfit Rotherham United at One Call Stadium this afternoon.
David Flitcroft’s men showed an encouraging mix of attacking positivity alongside resolute defending to secure the win against the Millers. Either side of Shaun Raggett’s equaliser, a Davies penalty and Walker finish ensured that the Stags would end their home pre-season fixtures unbeaten.
It looked as though the visitors may well find themselves a late equaliser; but Mansfield dug deep and held onto their lead until the final whistle.
The Stags' boss made two changes to the side that beat Sheffield Wednesday in midweek, with Davies and Calum Butcher replacing Jacob Mellis and Otis Khan, who missed today's game through illness.
The Stags showed great intent, as they have done throughout the entirety of pre-season, from the first minute of the match. Pressure from Walker forced the Millers’ goalkeeper, Marek Rodak, into a nervy clearance that resulted in a throw-in for the hosts.
Conrad Logan was called into action in just the fourth minute – pushing away a dangerous low cross from Rotherham’s wide-man, Anthony Forde.
Forde was then involved once more as he wiped out Mal Benning who was waiting for a dropping ball inside the area. Referee Darren England wasted no time in awarding a spot-kick to the Stags, which was duly tucked away by Davies as he calmly sent Rodak the wrong way on nine minutes.
However, Flitcroft’s side held their lead for only four minutes before the visitors equalised through Raggett. The centre-back met Forde’s whipped delivery from a corner with aplomb – his first for the Millers.
Paul Warne’s side could have taken the lead three minutes later, but Kyle Vassell’s back-post header could only be directed over the bar from close range.
Mansfield looked to regain their lead. Butcher pulled out an exquisite touch to round his man, before unluckily over-hitting his through-ball that was intended for Mansfield’s goalscorer, Davies.
Both Will Vaulks and Michael Smith had efforts from the edge of Logan’s area but neither did enough to trouble the Stags’ shot-stopper.
Moments later, Mal Benning almost produced another spectacular goal to add to his collection on the half hour mark; volleying over after some neat combination play by teammates Butcher and Davies.
Joe Newell could have been one-on-one with Logan just minutes later, however he was adjudged by assistant Steve Meredith to have pushed Pearce over in the build-up.
As the half drew to a close, Pearce was replaced by substitute Lewis Gibbens after he looked to be struggling with a knock.
And just four minutes from the half-time whistle the Stags reclaimed their one-goal cushion courtesy of Tyler Walker. Despite not making much of an impression in the first period, the on-loan forward latched onto Hayden White’s pass before firing expertly past Rodak with his left foot.
White got involved once more – this time lofting another fine pass into the path of MacDonald – but his touch was heavy and the ball unfortunately fell into the arms of Rodak, extinguishing any potential third goal for the Stags.
The second-half began in much tighter fashion, with neither side managing any real efforts on goal until the hour mark. It was Billy Jones who had the next-best chance for the Millers; a free header that was subsequently saved by Logan.
Mansfield looked to keep hold of their lead by sitting deep and trying to hit Rotherham on the counter-attack. Expectedly, the visitors pressed for an equaliser but struggled to find a way to do so.
Substitute Ryan Williams bent an effort towards Logan’s far post, but the Stags' 'keeper was equal to yet another Rotherham attempt that was sent his way.
Referee Darren England then blew for full-time, in turn marking an unbeaten home pre-season run for Mansfield Town.
This was the perfect warm-up match for Flitcroft’s side, as they now prepare for their opening game of the Sky Bet League Two campaign against Newport County.
SUBS NOT USED: Olejnik, Atkinson, Digby.
ASSISTANTS: Steve Meredith & Nigel Smith
FOURTH OFFICIAL: Stuart Richardson
ATTENDANCE: 2,083 (466 away)