Mansfield Town produced an impressive display to run out 3-0 victors against Championship side Sheffield United in a behind-closed-doors friendly at One Call Stadium this evening.
A second-half finish from Rhys Oates and a brace from the imposing Hiram Boateng separated the two sides on an extremely humid evening at One Call Stadium.
A flurry of changes were made to personnel after 30 minutes, 60 minutes, and again during the latter stages as Nigel Clough looked to add more game time into his squad ahead of next Saturday’s 2022/23 Sky Bet League Two season opener at Salford.
The first chance of the game fell to the visitors when Norwegian international midfielder Sander Berge found himself on the edge of the penalty area in the third minute. The 24-year-old saw his low effort superbly blocked by new Stags’ signing Riley Harbottle who threw his body on the line to clear the danger.
Seven minutes into the game and Mansfield found their rhythm as the Stags worked play from left to right. An ambitious ball from George Maris was subsequently blocked by Rhys Oates, who couldn’t quite move out the way of the of the midfielder’s shot in time to allow Kellan Gordon to be through on goal.
Oates displayed a touch of class in the 15th minute turning Anel Ahmedhodžić just past the halfway line. The striker drove forward but was unable to release Lucas Akins, instead the former took a heavy touch allowing the covering centre-half to nip the ball from his feet and clear.
A water break was taken in the 16th minute allowing the players to take well needed fluids on board.
Stags flurried forward two minutes after the stoppage in play through Gordon down the right flank. The quick full-back’s troubling ball across the face of goal had too much pace on it for Akins who couldn’t quite stretch far enough to make any contact.
Christie Pym was called into action in the 27th minute. The recently-recruited goalkeeper denied Iliman Ndiaye the chance to put the Blades ahead in the game.
From the resulting corner, the deep cross from Baldock was met by the Bosnia and Herzegovina international Ahmedhodžić. The centre-half couldn’t direct the ball goalward however, as the ball flew wide.
A minute later Mansfield attacked next down the right again through Gordon, but his hanging cross could only be tapped behind by Oates on the stretch.
The 30th minute saw smooth play by Hiram Boateng as he skipped past Oliver Norwood before sliding the ball through to Gordon. The wing-back looked to enter the opposition box but was disposed immediately by Ahmedhodžić with an impressive recovering tackle.
The next stoppage in play allowed Nigel Clough to make several changes to his team.
Ndiaye then had another chance to score in the 38th minute when he was played through on goal. The attacker’s first touch forced him to improvise, producing a cheeky effort that was initially saved by Pym, however, it was still goal bound until George Cooper got in a good position to clip the ball to safety.
A confident display in the first-half by Mansfield saw the home side retain possession well and carve out several good opportunities. However, the Stags were unable to threaten Foderingham in the Sheffield United goal with any clear-cut chances. The teams remained level at half-time.
Three minutes into the second half and Ndiaye should have provided the opening goal, but he got the ball stuck in his feet which allowed Pym to gather the ball.
In an end-to-end affair, Mansfield were next to attempt to snatch a lead in the 51st minute when Gordon delivered well into the path of Akins. The experienced Stags’ utility man managed to direct his effort on target but there was little power on the attempt allowing Foderingham to collect.
The deadlock was broken in the 65th minute as Boateng, from five yards out, latched onto a driven crossed from James Gale.
Mansfield doubled their advantage thanks to Rhys Oates in the 72nd minute. Gale grabbed his second assist of the evening as he set the ball back to the striker whose effort proved too much for Sheffield United’s goalkeeper, thumping the ball into the back of the net in the Quarry Lane end.
Ex MK-Dons man Boateng secured Mansfield’s third goal with a tremendous curling effort. The all-action midfielder whipped a superb strike into the top left corner from the edge of the box to extend Stags’ lead to three goals.
The final minutes saw Mansfield dictate play by not letting Sheffield United out of their own half.
As a result of the hard work displayed by Nigel Clough’s men Stags saw out a well-earned victory against strong Championship opposition.
STAGS XI: Pym, Gordon (Maris 59’), O’Toole (Harbottle 59’), Hawkins © (Gale 30’ (Johnson 83’), Harbottle (Cooper 30’), (Hawkins 59’), Bowery, Boateng (Lapslie 30’), Maris (Law 30’), Quinn (Clarke 30’ (Boateng 76’), Akins (Quinn 59’) Oates (Johnson 30’).
SHEFFIELD UNITED XI: Foderingham, Baldock, Ahmedhodžić, Gordon, Clark (Robinson 76’), Stevens (Norrington-Davies 46’), Norwood (Arblaster 76’), Berge (Fleck 76’), Osborn (Coulibaly 76’), Ndiaye, Brewster (Jebbison 76’).
UNUSED SUBS: Amissah, Egan, Broadbent, Osula, Gomis, Lowe.
REFEREE: Declan Bourne.