MARTIN SHAW STAGS BLOG: First friendly shows early promise

Mansfield Town's James Baxendale opens the scoring  - Pic Chris Holloway
Mansfield Town's James Baxendale opens the scoring - Pic Chris Holloway
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Pre-season friendlies, especially early ones, are more about getting fitness than anything else, so it can be misleading to read too much into them.

Nevertheless, there were plenty of encouraging performances from Mansfield Town’s new signings in Saturday’s win at Rainworth MW.

Pre-season training had started last Monday with a residential week at Brooksby College in Leicestershire, and on Saturday the opening friendly at Rainworth offered the first opportunity for the fans to see the new players.

The Stags put out different XIs in each half and ran out 2-0 winners.

The goals came from a shot from James Baxendale from inside the area that went in off the post in the first half, and a beauty into the top corner from Adi Yussuf from outside the box in the second half.

In the first half Rhys Bennett showed how keen he is to push forward from right back, and one piece of skill to bring the ball down from a pass from his left was superb.

Kevan Hurst, on the right of a diamond formation in midfield, looked very composed.

Ashley Hemmings, on the left of midfield, showed his ability to ghost past defenders and get in a shot and Pat Hoban up front looked physically strong winning headers.

In the second half, CJ Hamilton, on the left of midfield, showed tremendous pace and trickery and linked well with young left back Louis Danquah.

Danny Rose looked good but will want to find better finishing than at Rainworth.

Jordan Wheatley, just 17, has signed from Ilkeston and Adam Murray confirmed he goes straight into the first team squad.

He’s previously mainly played at centre half, but Murray sees him more as a right back at this stage.

On Saturday at Rainworth, he certainly didn’t look out of place and could provide good back-up to Rhys Bennett this season.

Of the players we know well, those who caught the eye most were James Baxendale, who had a good half just behind the strikers and did manage to find the net, Matt Green, who looked very sharp, Adi Yussuf, who demonstrated the ability that Stags fans saw last season and scored a terrific goal, and young centre half Corbin Shires, who looked very solid.

On Saturday Mansfield will play their next pre-season games, at both Clipstone (midday) and Carlton (4pm).

Both matches should contain first team players, though Murray told me the exact mixture will depend on the state of the pitches.