Mansfield Town battled to a second pre-season victory in three days after a hard-fought 1-0 win away at Matlock Town this evening.
The trip to The Proctor Cars Stadium proved to be a good test for the Stags and a chance to see more of new signings Hiram Boateng, Scott Flinders and Will Swan. The trio impressed on the night with the former netting his first goal in Mansfield colours.
Inside the opening minute the hosts started on the front foot.
Mansfield were forced to deal with a Matlock free-kick within the first minute when Oliver Hawkins handled the ball 25 yards from his goal. The Gladiators’ number seven Alex Byrne cannoned the subsequent hit straight into the resolute amber and blue wall.
Three minutes later, a loose pass from Stephen McLaughlin was intercepted by Jake Day who brought the ball down outside Mansfield’s penalty area, but he couldn’t round the recovering Hawkins.
A good passage of play from the Stags in the 14th minute saw Will Swan and Jordan Bowery link-up well down the left-hand side. The move resulted in Bowery’s low driven shot with his right foot drifting wide of the home side’s goal.
Swan was involved again four minutes later when he was slipped through on the right flank. The new loanee entered the box and smacked a viscous shot into the side netting.
Mansfield were growing into the game as the two sides entered the 24th minute in Derbyshire. Swan dribbled through the middle of the pitch, looking to create a chance for his side. The 21-year-old was dispossessed soon after, however the loose ball fell to Lucas Akins. The versatile performer passed two Matlock defenders and unleashed a left footed effort that sailed just wide of the left post.
The deadlock was broken in the 26th minute when Hiram Boateng received the ball on the right of the opposition’s box thanks to a delightful ball from Akins. The former MK Dons midfielder slid his low effort past Pollard to confidently put Mansfield ahead.
The Stags nearly added a second in the 31st however Jordan Bowery’s powerful effort was saved superbly by Pollard from point-blank range.
As half-time approached Matlock carved out two good opportunities.
Firstly, in the 41st Alex Byrne found himself one-on-one with Stags’ goalkeeper, Scott Flinders, but couldn’t take the ball round him after the experienced shot-stopper guided him away from goal. The second chance came a minute later when Matlock’s striker Jake Day got on the end of the following corner to volley his strike off the bar and over.
The opening minutes of the second half saw Mansfield conjure several attacks, none of which led to anything substantial. The closest the Stags came to extending their advantage was an effort from new boy Swan in the 55th minute finding the hands of Pollard.
The Mansfield born 21-year-old received the ball again in the 58th minute, occupying a familiar role on the right side and striking an effort low at Ogden.
In the 67th minute, Bowery peeled off the Matlock right back Lenighan and headed the play across the area. An awkward bounce led to Matlock captain Qualter allowing the ball to find its way to Swan, who brought the ball down excellently but sliced his effort wide.
Flinders was called upon in the 77th minute when Reon Potts broke in behind the Mansfield back line. But the effort from Matlock’s number 19 wasn’t enough to beat the experienced Flinders as he parried the ball to safety.
With five minutes left of normal time, Matlock Town had the ball in the net but Uchegblaum was offside in the build-up. The goal didn’t stand and Mansfield held on to their lead.
The 89th minute brought Mansfield’s last chance to add to their one goal advantage, as James Gale’s effort skimmed past the post down to the goalkeeper’s right.
Mansfield held on to their narrow lead and the final whistle was welcomed by both sets of teams who had battled relentlessly for 90 minutes in very humid conditions.
STAGS XI: Flinders, Akins, O’Toole, Hawkins (Cooper 82’), McLaughlin © (Perch 65’), Bowery, Boateng (Law 71’), Maris (Clarke 65’), Quinn (Lapslie 65’), Swan (Deakin 82’), Oates (Gale 71’)
UNUSED SUB: Mason
MATLOCK XI: Pollard (Ogden 46’), DeGirolamo (Lenighan 46’), Chippendale (Potts 65’), Evans (Qualter 89’), Qualter © (Byrne 79’), Lees, Byrne (Daly 65’), Wiles (Higgins 65’), Day, Webb-Foster (Opoku 46’), Uchegbulam
UNUSED SUB: Bell
REFEREE: Jamie O’Connor