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Match Reports

Report: Salford 2-0 Stags

30 July 2022

Mansfield Town left the Peninsula Stadium empty handed after first-half strikes from Callum Hendry and Brandon Thomas-Asante gave Salford an opening day win.

Stags had enough opportunities to get on the scoresheet but were without the killer instinct when chances arrived.

Boss Nigel Clough handed debuts to four of the club’s new signings.

Christy Pym, on a season-long loan from Peterborough United, was selected to start in goal, while Nottingham Forest loanees Riley Harbottle and Will Swan played in defence and attack respectively. Hiram Boateng, formerly of MK Dons, was part of a five-man midfield.

Salford found the early breakthrough in the fifth minute when Callum Hendy latched onto a pass from Brandon Thomas-Asante to fire low into the back of the net.

Stags carved out their first chance of the game five minutes later as Swan delivered an inviting cross from the right, but Salford defender Theo Vassell beat Rhys Oates to the ball on the edge of the six yard box to turn it behind for a corner.

Oates did well in the 13th minute to win possession 20 yards from goal and his shot did enough to force a second flag-kick of the afternoon for the Stags.

Lucas Akins, at right wing-back, stung the fingertips of Salford goalkeeper Tom King in the 26th minute. Teeing it up from 25 yards, the former Burton man directed a sizzling drive towards goal, which King had to claim at the second attempt.

Within the blink of an eye, Salford doubled their advantage with 28 minutes on the clock.

Conor McAleny dispossessed George Maris in midfield and after advancing goalwards slipped through Asante to get beyond the Stags’ defence and slide the ball beyond Pym from inside the box.

On 31, Swan did well to intercept on the edge of the Salford box. After driving towards goal, King rushed out to narrow the angle, forcing Swan to play it back from the goal line to Boateng, whose effort flew wide.

Jason Lowe was shown the game’s first yellow card when he hacked down Rhys Oates after the Stags’ front man had jinxed his way beyond two Salford players.

But from the resulting free-kick, McLaughlin’s low delivery evaded the onrushing pack inside the box.

Stags attempted to ramp up the pressure before the interval, but King went untested in the Salford goal.

In first-half stoppage time, McLaughlin and Swan both sent crosses into the box from the left and right flank, but no one in a sky blue Stags’ shirt was able to connect.

Two minutes after the interval, Jordan Bowery powered his way to the edge of the area before lashing his attempt over the angle.

On 56, former Stags’ defender Richard Nartey headed over from an Elliott Watt cross following a short corner routine by the hosts.

As the contest ticked over the hour-mark, Nigel Clough made a double change as George Maris and Will Swan were replaced by Elliott Hewitt and George Lapslie.

Stags came close in the 63rd minute when McLaughlin swept a ball in from the left, though Boateng’s header bounced into the ground and over the bar.

Salford attempted to slow the game down and with 20 minutes remaining, ‘keeper Tom King was booked for time wasting.

Stags by now were camped inside the home half but lacked the killer touch in front of goal.

With 75 minutes played, Akins pounced on a wayward Salford midway inside the home half.

And after finding Oates, last season’s leading goalscoring laid it for McLaughlin to knock a dangerous ball across the face of goal, but the chance went amiss as Stags were without men to attack it inside the box.

Kellan Gordon then replaced John-Joe O’Toole in a third change for the Stags.

In the 88th minute, King was on hand to prevent Oates – on the stretch - from opening Stags’ account following a Stephen McLaughlin assist.

At the other end. Christy Pym was at full stretch to deny Ryan Watson’s curling drive.

Harbottle and Quinn made way for Ollie Clarke and James Gale as the game headed towards its close.

Conor McAleny sent a low effort past the post as Salford searched for a third goal, but by then the outcome was already beyond doubt.

Stags will now turn their attentions to next Saturday’s first home game of the season at home to Tranmere Roves.

SALFORD: King, Touray ©, Lowe, Watt, Watson, Hendry (Leak 87’), Asante, McAleny, Nartey, Shephard (Bolton 79’), Vassell

UNUSED SUBS: Torrance, Simões, Smith, Berkoe, Dackers

STAGS: Pym, Akins, O’Toole (Gordon 80’), Harbottle (Gale 89’), McLaughlin ©, Bowery, Boateng, Maris (Hewitt 61’), Quinn (Clarke 90’), Oates, Swan (Lapslie 61’)

UNUSED SUBS: Flinders, Cooper

REFEREE: Adam Heczeg

ATTENDANCE: 2,721


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