Mansfield Town finished pre-season with a convincing 3-0 win at Boundary Park, Oldham, this afternoon.
The victory meant that Nigel Clough’s men have gone unbeaten throughout pre-season.
Stags dominated both halves, scoring once in the first and twice in the second as Rhys Oates added another two to his pre-season tally and Oli Hawkins popped up with a late header to solidify the victory.
Oldham Athletic started the brighter of the two sides in the opening minutes when Trialist C floated a weighted cross to the back post from the edge of the area. But none of the trialist’s teammates chasing the cross could get any contact on the delivery.
The first chance for Mansfield presented itself in the ninth minute when Lucas Akins slipped through Rhys Oates. Last season’s top goal scorer found space on the right-hand side but couldn’t steer his shot on target as he cannoned the right-footed effort into the side-netting.
The opening ten minutes proved to be back-and-forth as Oldham’s Trialist B skipped past Jordan Bowery and stood one-on-one with Pym. The trialist, wearing the number 16 shirt, blasted his effort over the crossbar.
Mansfield soon asserted their dominance on proceedings as Riley Harbottle was presented with a good chance to open the scoring. The Nottingham Forest loanee climbed well to get on the end of a deep out-swinging cross from Kellan Gordon though Harbottle, however, couldn’t generate enough power on the header as Oldham’s goalkeeper Magnus Norman took the ball under his custody.
Stephen McLaughlin came close to celebrating his new two-year contract with a goal in the 24th minute, arriving to meet a deep lying free-kick taken by George Maris. The Irishman directed his header well, forcing Norman to stretch down to his right to pull off a fingertip save.
Promising build up play on the half-an-hour mark led to Rhys Oates occupying a central position and unleashing a powerful strike from 18-yards-out. The attempt from the frontman, however, was hit centrally and into the hands of Norman.
Mansfield dominated possession in the later stages of the first half, and it paid off as Stags took the lead in the 38th minute. A delightful passage of play was rewarded when Jason Law slid the ball past Harrison McGahey and into the path of Oates. The Mansfield man made no mistake, rolling the ball past the goalkeeper and into the far corner.
Mansfield were forced into their first substitution following the goal, as Law injured himself in the process of the assist and was replaced by club captain Ollie Clarke in the middle of the park.
The last chance of the half came the way of Mansfield when Lucas Akins drove into the Oldham penalty area. The versatile performer, playing up front for Mansfield, looked to add a second, but delayed his shot, allowing Norman to ready himself. As a result, the low effort from Akins was matched by Oldham’s number one who blocked the shot with his out-stretched right leg.
Mansfield began the second-half in the same vein of form they had ended the first, working the ball well to allow George Maris the freedom to have a shot from just outside the box. The attempt from the midfielder in the 49th minute was hit low but didn’t have the pace to trouble Norman.
Two injuries in five minutes saw Mansfield make changes. In the 52nd minute Riley Harbottle went down with a poke in the eye and as a precaution was replaced by Oli Hawkins. Five minutes later, Elliott Hewitt took the place of John-Joe O’Toole.
Mansfield added to their lead in the 62nd minute through Rhys Oates who grabbed his second of the game, tapping in Kellan Gordon’s driven cross from six yards out.
In the 78th minute a loose pass from Oates, presented Oldham with a chance to get one back. The substitute Mike Fondop received the ball just inside the Mansfield box and saw his left footed effort fly over the crossbar.
Mansfield’s dominating performance was capped off in the 88th minute as Hawkins rose above McGahey to latch on to Hiram Boateng’s inviting cross. The header from the Stags’ centre-half was placed expertly as he glanced the ball just inside the post and into the back of the net.
The last few seconds of the game saw Fondop fail to hit the target as his effort brushed the side netting.
Following this effort, the final whistle was blown and Mansfield capped off their unbeaten pre-season with a fine 3-0 victory.
STAGS XI: Pym, Gordon, O’Toole (Hewitt 57’), Bowery, Harbottle (Hawkins 52’), McLaughlin © (Cooper 72’), Boateng, Maris, Law (Clarke 39’), Oates (Gale 84’), Akins (Swan 63’)
UNUSED SUB: Flinders
OLDHAM XI: Norman, Clarke, Sheron, McGahey, Couto (Burgess 55’), Stobbs, Trialist A ©, Trialist B, Trialist C (Luamba 55’), Porter (Fondop 55’), Hope
UNUSED SUBS: Leutwiler, Da Silva, Vaughan, Edwards, Turner, Kilner
ATTENDANCE: 919 (69 Stags’ fans)