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Match Reports

Match report: Stags 2-1 Sheffield Wednesday

24 July 2018

Mansfield Town encouraged the home faithful with another impressive home display to defeat Championship outfit Sheffield Wednesday 2-1.

Though results count for nothing in pre-season, Stags have showed real promise in their home-friendly schedule, beating Derby County 3-1, drawing 0-0 with Sheffield United and this latest victory.

Benning found the net with a textbook left-footed strike in the first half, whilst in the second, Hamilton's cross close flew into the net with the aid of an Adam Reach deflection, before the same man pulled one back for the Owls soon after at the other end.

There was one alteration to Stags' last starting XI, a game which ended 0-0 at home to Sheffield United on Saturday, as Alex MacDonald replaced forward Craig Davies,  leaving Tyler Walker to start as a solitary striker.

Sheffield Wednesday's Liam Palmer forced the game's first corner after 40 just seconds, but it eluded everyone inside the box.

After a slow start, the Owls almost took the lead in the sixth minute. Stags' left wing-back Mal Benning misjudged a long punt forward allowing Palmer to shoot, but he scuffed his attempt and Conrad Logan, the home goalkeeper, claimed comfortably.

A minute later, Stags' midfielder Neal Bishop trod on the ball outside the D, allowing Atdhe Nujiu to fire well wide.

After helping win Stags a free-kick on 11 minutes following a good ball to midfielder Jacob Mellis, who was upended, the ex-Yeovil man struck his 25-yard set-piece well over.

Eight minutes later, a Wednesday half-clearance fell to Bishop, who struck into the ground and wide from outside the box.

Stags grew into the half as the game progressed and ended the the first period as the better side, reflected in the scoreline at the interval.

As Mansfield worked through the gears, Mellis played a sensational ball out to the right to the onrushing Hamilton, who from an acute angle outside the goal area, couldn't connect properly.

Stags had Matt Preston to thank for keeping the scores level mid-way through the first half. Near the Stags' dead-ball line, Palmer pulled it back for Nuhiu to fire goalwards from eight yards, denied only by a flying block from Mansfield defender Preston.

Mansfield had the home faithful applauding after 27 minutes. Near the halfway line, MacDonald sent an exquisite pass into the area for Hamilton who chested it down before seeing his left-footed attempt charged down by Morgan Fox.

Only a splendid save from Owls' goalkeeper Cameron Dawson prevented Stags from breaking the deadlock from the resulting corner. Laid outside of the area to Khan, the 22-year-old swept a wonderful cross into the area, and as Nuhiu tried to clear with a header, it flew towards his own goal, kept out by a flying Dawson who turned it behind with one hand.

On 34, Hutchinson let one fly from 30 yards for the Owls, which ended in the vacant Quarry Lane Stand.

And following more promise in the final third, Stags had their reward with the opening goal in the 41st minute through a sweet Mal Benning strike.

Mellis started the move, picking out Khan through the middle who saw his shot blocked by Palmer inside his own area. And after it fell back to Khan, he slipped it to Hamilton, who found Benning to his left to rifle home off the inside of the far post from 15 yards.

Stags carried their impressive first half into the start of the second, attacking with confidence. In the opening minute, Walker dragged his shot wide from the right of the box.

But Wednesday should have restored parity on 48 following an eye-catching move. Fernando Forestieri sought Palmer on the right with a brilliant pass, and his first-time low cross into the centre of the box was perfectly weighted for Nuhio, who could only crash his shot against the bar from 12 yards.

Mansfield manager David Flitcroft made his first change in hr 56th minute when young defender Lewis Gibbens replaced Matt Preston.

Moments later, Nuhiu lashed harmlessly into the hands of Logan from 25 yards.

After a quiet period for both sides, Stags doubled their lead on 67 minutes.

Hamilton, galloping down the right, latched on to another superb pass from MacDonald. And after heading to the goal line, his cross into the area saw the ball inadvertently hit the leg of Adam Reach to spin past the goalkeeper and into the far corner of the goal.

But Reach made up for it by sticking one in the other goal five minutes later.

Striking first time following a Stags clearance, Reach rifled a shot into the far corner, and with the aid a minor deflection from Pearce, Logan had no chance in the home goal.

There was a concern for Stags soon after the goal, as defender Hayden White needed lengthy treatment before play resumed. Taking no risks before the start of the new campaign, Paul Digby took his place in defence in the 76th minute.

Wednesday's Forestieri wanted a penalty in the 79th minute, falling to the ground under the challenge of Paul Digby, but the referee rightly waved play on.

Stags made a treble change a minute later. Midfielder Calum Butcher, attacker Omari Sterling-James and striker Jordan Graham climbed off the bench as MacDonald, Mellis and Khan made way.

As the game headed towards its end, Walker sent a low left-footed hit wide of goal from 20 yards.

Walker then tested the gloves of the goalkeeper with a stinging effort and momentarily, Benning lashed narrowly off target from outside the box.

Though classed as a friendly, the game reached boiling point in the 88th minute. Forestieri's several mistimed challenges on Stags' players sparked confrontation between the two sides.

And showing fine common sense, Stags' boss David Flitcroft immediately replaced Krystian Pearce with Will Atkinson to prevent any knee-jerk reaction to Forestieri's antics.

After a fine Stags' display, the post match scenes threatened to mar the night. Video replays will need to clarify the cause, but stewards and staff from both teams were required on the pitch to separate players from both sides when the pitch hit boiling point.

STAGS: Logan, Hamilton, White (Digby 76), Preston (Gibbens 56), Pearce (Atkinson 88), Benning, Bishop, Mellis (Butcher 80), MacDonald (Sterling-James 80), Khan  (Graham 80), Walker

UNUSED SUBS: Olejnik, Atkinson, Angol

SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY: Dawson, Palmer, Van Aken, Fox, Pelupessy, Bannan, Lees, Nuhio, Reach, Hutchinson, Forestieri

SUBSTITUTES: Wallis, Kirby, Penney, Preston, Lee, Hunt, Stobbs

REFEREE: John Brooks

ATTENDANCE: 3,599 (1,517)


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