A strong Stags’ lineup ran out 5-1 winners over Doncaster Rovers reserves at Keepmoat Stadium in this afternoon’s Central League clash.
Despite conceding early to Alfie Beestin’s thunderous effort, goals from Otis Khan, Calum Butcher, Jordan Graham, Danny Rose and CJ Hamilton meant that Mansfield emerged from the contest as dominant victors.
This afternoon’s squad consisted entirely of first team players, who produced a strong performance ahead of this weekend’s fixture away to Cambridge United.
It was not the ideal start for the Stags, who went behind in the fourth minute after Beestin’s powerful effort across goal found the top corner.
Mansfield, who were led by first team manager David Flitcroft and assistant manager Ben Futcher this afternoon, responded positively from going a goal down by winning a corner almost immediately from the game’s restart.
Defender Lewis Gibbens headed towards goal from Khan’s delivery, yet saw the ball inadvertently blocked by the back of Krystian Pearce.
Graham had a chance to equalise when he met Hayden White’s temcross, though his strike lacked the required power to trouble Ian Lawlor in the Doncaster goal.
Soon after, Khan pulled the trigger from just outside the area and saw his effort blocked by Prior.
Alex MacDonald’s tempting delivery was met by Graham, who hooked his volley over the bar 12 yards from goal.
As the game approached the 30-minute mark, Stags had a succession of chances, with two openings falling to Rose. The striker’s first hit stung the palms of Lawlor, before his second stab at goal was well blocked.
Graham almost found himself with a fortunate equaliser, as he saw the ball fly wide of the mark after getting a toe to the Rovers’ goalkeeper’s attempted clearance.
Stags found themselves creating the majority of opportunities in the first-half, but centre-back Matt Preston had to be alert ten minutes from half-time when he reacted quickly to scoop Paul Taylor’s effort off the line.
Four minutes later, Mansfield had their equaliser. A low cross from the right by Rose found Khan lurking in the area, who took a touch before applying the finish low into the corner.
Stags did not sit back after finding their goal, with Graham almost giving his side the lead when his effort was well blocked by a Doncaster defender.
This would be the last action of an eventful first-half in which Flitcroft’s side were largely dominant.
The manager made five changes at the break, with Ryan Sweeney, Hamilton, Timi Elsnik, Butcher and Omari Sterling-James replacing Pearce, White, Neal Bishop, MacDonald and Khan.
The hosts crafted the first chance of the second-half when Alfie May broke through on goal, yet Stags’ ‘keeper Conrad Logan rushed out to the feet of the attacker to prevent his effort.
Logan’s stop would prove to be vital, as Mansfield took the lead just a minute later through Butcher. Elsnik’s pass fell perfectly into the path of the midfielder, who confidently fired low and hard to the far corner.
The Mansfield no.1 was called into action soon after the Stags found their second goal, as he once again produced a smart save to deny May. Moments later, Jermaine Anderson’s strike looked to be heading into the far corner, but Logan dived to his left and produced a solid save to preserve his side’s one-goal lead.
Mal Benning looked to volley in from range, but sliced his audacious effort and saw it collected by Lawlor.
Graham notched a third for the Stags 20 minutes from time. Sterling-James’ pass found the striker who took two touches before rounding the ‘keeper, sliding the ball into the empty net.
The forward went close to doubling his tally when he flashed a strike wide 18 yards from goal.
Before long, it was four for the Stags. Butcher’s hit was prevented by a smart save from Lawlor, which fell into the path of Rose, who made no mistake in poking the ball home.
It was so nearly five when Butcher received possession just outside the area, before seeing his dipping effort clatter the crossbar.
Mansfield were awarded a penalty in their next attack after Hamilton was fouled in the area, prompting referee Gareth Myers to point to the spot. Benning stepped up, but was unlucky as he saw his spot-kick hit the outside of the post.
Hamilton went close as he saw his strike flash wide of the near post after cutting in on his favoured left-foot.
Logan preserved Mansfield’s three-goal advantage with a fine save from substitute Max Watters’ powerful volley.
Sterling-James found space on the edge of the area, and saw his left-footed shot go just wide.
In the 86th minute, Hamilton gave Mansfield their fifth of the afternoon. Benning turned provider on the right-hand side of the area with his clever flick, which the winger controlled in his stride, before finishing to the near post.
Sterling-James went close to adding a sixth goal for the Stags with his audacious effort from 40 yards, but saw his lob land on the roof of Lawlor’s net.
It was a dominant performance by the Stags, especially in the second-half, and a worthwhile exercise for the first team players ahead of their fixture away at Cambridge United in Sky Bet League Two on Saturday.
STAGS’ XI: Logan, White (Hamilton 46’), Preston, Pearce (Sweeney 46’), Gibbens, Benning, Bishop (Elsnik 46’), MacDonald (Butcher 46’), Khan (Sterling-James 46’), Graham, Rose.
UNUSED SUBS: N/A.
DONCASTER XI: Lawlor, Lund, Amos (Foulkes 68’), Prior, T. Anderson, Horton, J. Anderson, Beestin, May (Watters 59’), Taylor, Kiwomya (Longbottom 59’).
UNUSED SUBS: Fletcher, James.