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Match Reports

Report: Alfreton Town 0-1 Stags

13 July 2019

Alistair Smith’s 82nd-minute goal proved to be the difference as Mansfield Town won their third successive pre-season game with a 1-0 victory against Alfreton Town.

It proved to be a goalless yet entertaining first period against the National League North side – who finished 15th last season.  

Smith, though, popped up with less than ten minutes remaining to seal a third consecutive victory for John Dempster’s men in their 2019-20 pre-season schedule.

The Stags’ boss continued with the theme of fielding two separate line ups in each half at the Impact Arena.

A mix of first-team and young talents made up the XIs, alongside two trialists.

Mansfield began the contest brightly and were inches away from taking an early lead when Jacob Mellis’ wicked delivery dropped marginally beyond the head of Ryan Sweeney.

Alfreton were next to threaten, though, as Dominic Smith directed a header wide of Conrad Logan’s upright.

Soon after, the Stags linked a crisp, one-touch move that would have ended with a Danny Rose strike effort had it not been for a timely clearance by the hosts.

Mansfield’s number 32 was then almost set free via a neat through ball, however, ‘keeper Tom Nicholson was on hand to clear the danger.

Josh Wilde, the hosts’ left-back, took aim from distance but it was a comfortable take in the end for Logan.

As the clock edged towards half-time, Hamilton posed more questions of the Reds’ back-line.

His blistering pace afforded him ample space to release a cross – that was eventually hooked to safety after momentary panic.

On the stroke of half time, the hosts were given a set-piece opportunity that was whipped high above the target by Bobby Johnson.

Trialist B picked up possession at the outset of the second period as he sought to impress – but after drifting past several red jerseys, his final effort unfortunately skidded wide of the far post.  

And he was soon involved again, linking with Alex MacDonald to allow the latter to deliver a teasing cross. One that Otis Khan met before lifting it above the bar.

The visitors continued to harry Alfreton’s defence as Andy Cook, on the turn, smashed a half-volley off target.

On the hour mark, the travelling Stags fans thought they had witnessed the opening goal.

MacDonald rose highest in the middle to power a goal-bound header that would have seen the net bulge but for a fine, fingertip save by Jack Atkinson.

Despite that, the hosts themselves should have been ahead eight minutes later.

The ball fell kindly to substitute Josh Clackstone following a scramble inside the penalty area, yet he sliced his effort wide of the mark.

Aidan was required to claw the ball away a little later, though, when it somehow made its way through a crowd of bodies.

And this save was highlighted even further on 82 minutes.

Mal Benning’s first-time delivery from the left flank found Smith lurking in the area, who stroked the ball home with ease.

The home side had exactly seven minutes to find a response but were unable to test Stone.

The Stags’ next pre-season fixture arrives at One Call Stadium this Wednesday as Dempster’s side entertain Blackburn Rovers.

STAGS' FIRST-HALF XI: Logan (GK), Trialist A, Pearce, Sweeney, Sketchley, Sterling-James, Mellis, Bishop, Hamilton, Maynard, Rose.

STAGS' SECOND-HALF XI:  Stone (GK), Trialist A (Clarke 66’), Preston, Gibbens, Benning, MacDonald, A. Smith, Tomlinson, Khan, Trialist B, Cook. 

ALFRETON XI: Nicholson, East, Wilde, Lynch, Qualter, Killock, D. Smith, Whitham, Morgan-Smith, Trialist, Johnson. 

REFEREE: Danny Middleton.

ASSISTANTS: Harry Jones & Alan Parker.

ATTENDANCE: 1,054 (756 away)

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