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Report: Vit贸ria 1-0 Stags

7 July 2018

Mansfield Town began their pre-season fixture schedule with a well-fought contest against Primeira Liga outfit Vitória F.C, with the natives narrowly winning 1-0.

The match, under scorching sunshine, was played at Guia Football Club in Albufeira, Portugal, as part of the Stags' one-week pre-season training camp in the Algarve. 

Manager David Flitcroft selected two separate sides in each half, both operating in a 3-5-2 system.

Though no official attendance was recorded, Stags were backed by approximately 150 die-hard supporters who travelled from Mansfield to watch the amber and blue in action.

There were also run-outs for youngsters Henri Wilder, Lewis Gibbens, Nyle Blake and Jordan Graham, whilst trialist centre-back Nathan Cameron started the match at right-centre-half.

In the first period Vit贸ria missed a penalty while at the other end Stags' best chance was carved out through brilliant trickery from midfielder Otis Khan, whose cross to striker Craig Davies forced a save at the near post.

In a match of few clear cut opportunities, the decisive strike was one of real quality. With no teamsheet provided to identify Vit贸ria's players, the game's only goal - in the 77th minute - came when a free-kick was sent expertly over the Stags' defensive wall and into the net.

Even though this was classed as a friendly, the match unfolded in a way which contradicted its non-competitive title.

Inside the first ten seconds, Stags' centre half Nathan Cameron was hacked to the ground on the right touchline, as Vit贸ria made it clear they were not there to make up the numbers.

Mansfield too matched that feisty edge, underlined by second-half cautions to midfielders Calum Butcher and Jacob Mellis.

After four minutes, Vit贸ria fired high and over the bar in the game's first meaningful attack.

Stags won their first corner a minute later, but Otis Khan - a recent signing from Yeovil - saw his flag-kick punched away by the goalkeeper.

Vit贸ria clipped the post on 13 minutes before striker Craig Davies and wing-back CJ Hamilton linked up well on the left to rack-up another Stags' corner.

The Portuguese side then missed a chance to take the lead from the penalty mark in the 29th minute. Cameron, in possession for the Stags, sent a short back-pass to goalkeeper Conrad Logan, who saw the ball intercepted before bringing the same player down inside the box.

But from 12 yards, it was lashed over the angle of cross bar and post.

With five minutes until half-time, Khan showed his worth by dancing beyond two players to cross low into the box, where Davies' shot was denied at the near post by the home goalkeeper.

Ten minutes after the restart, the impressive Jordan Graham found Butcher inside the area, but the ex-Millwall man was unable to do the rest.

At the other end, Stags' defender Krystian Pearce was in fine form, and after the game passed the hour, the commanding centre-half did well to block a Vit贸ria shot from close range.

Pearce then reacted quickest to a Vit贸ria free-kick, before Stags almost drew level after 74 minutes.

Graham played a cute pass to the advancing Lee Angol, who darted 30 yards under pressure from a defender to shoot at the goalkeeper.

Vit贸ria then scored the game's only goal with a free-kick from 23 yards, which flew over the wall and left goalkeeper Bobby Olejnik, rooted to the spot, with no chance.

The match then fizzed out under blistering heat in a first friendly which will be considered a good work out for David Flitcroft's side as part of a worthwhile trip to Portugal.

STAGS' FIRST HALF: Logan, Blake, Cameron, Preston, Wilder, Hamilton, MacDonald, Bishop, Khan, Walker, Davies.

SECOND HALF: Olejnik, White, Pearce, Gibbens, Sterling-James, Atkinson, Mellis, Butcher, Benning, Angol, Graham.


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