HUCKNALL Town will take heart from a competitive performance as they went down 3-0 in a local derby against a strong Mansfield Town side at Watnall Road,
A good crowd of 385 turned out on Monday as The Yellows took on a Stags outfit tipped to be among the pack for promotion to the Football League next season.
But despite Hucknall’s endeavour and no shortage of effort, they lost out to goals conceded at disastrous times — one either side of half time and another in the final minute.
Stags gaffer Paul Cox opted to give many of his first-team squad a runout against Hucknall and his Yellows counterpart, Brett Marshall, knew his troops would face a stern test.
Therefore, it was no surprise when Mansfield started the stronger and had three chances in the opening eight minutes with Ritchie Sutton and Anthony Howells going close before a 30-yard effort was saved with his legs by home ‘keeper Jason Fisher.
Warren Hatfield tried his luck with Hucknall’s first effort on 20 minutes as the home side began to get into the game.
They then created their best chance of the half as Rob Austin played the ball into Karl Slack’s feet. He fed it back to Julian Topliss, but the midfielder drove his shot straight into Shane Redmond’s chest.
Just as it looked like the teams would be going in level, the ball broke for Hucknall old boy Howells, who found himself through on goal and calmly lobbed Fisher to give the Stags a half-time lead.
Then, within a minute of the restart with fans returning to their seats, Mansfield doubled their advantage through former Newcastle United youth player Ryan McGorrigan.
The 19-year-old controlled well, juggled the ball on the right-hand corner of the box and then despatched a superb half-volley that gave Fisher no chance.
Most in the ground thought that was game, set and match as Mansfield had not conceded a goal in pre-season.
Both manAgers shuffled their packs in the second half as the game struggled to flow into any kind of rhythm
The Yellows still tried to play their football but were guilty of giving the ball away far too easily as they began to flag in the heat.
Despite some half-chances for the home side, it was The Stags who added a third goal right at the death when a shot across goal was touched in at the far post by McGorrigan to complete a brace.
After the match, Marshall said: “I’m pretty pleased.
“Mansfield always looked that little bit sharper, but we competed well.”
HUCKNALL LINE-UP — Fisher/ Baugh (for Brown 62), Austin, Hayes (for Blair 71), Nightingale, Carty, Ludlam (for Ganderson 45), Hatfield (for Snowden 45), Slack (for Garner 54), Wilby, Topliss (substituted 81).