Mansfield Town’s first home friendly of pre-season, against Bolton Wanderers on Saturday, gave home fans a chance to see Adam Murray’s new signings in action.
And judging by the reaction of the crowd at half time and full time, the home fans were happy with what they saw.
The Stags won the game 2-1, with goals from new signing Danny Rose and centre half Krystian Pearce.
It really was a promising performance from the Stags with lots of players impressing, and the result, although not the most important aspect in itself, was nevertheless deserved. Bolton were relegated from the Championship last season, and I expected them to give the Stags more problems than they did.
Striker Danny Rose, partnering Matt Green up front, frequently found space, made lots of good runs, and forced Bolton into conceding several free kicks, including one from which the Stags scored the second goal.
Rose’s goal, set up by Green, hinted at a good understanding starting to develop between the two strikers. Green himself was looking very sharp, as he has in other pre-season games.
Pearce was the pick of the defence, not only scoring, but putting in several good tackles and good headers too. Alongside him in central defence, George Taft looked like an accomplished footballer, comfortable on the ball with good distribution.
Taft is the replacement for Ryan Tafazolli who has signed for League One Peterborough, and he is showing the signs of looking like a similar player.
Right back Rhys Bennett pushed forward a lot down the wing. So far we haven’t seen Taft and Bennett tested too much defensively though.
I did expect Bolton to test Mansfield defensively more than they did, but probably the game against Hull will give the defence a better test.
It was only in the latter stages of the game that Bolton tried to turn up the heat and turn it into a more competitive game, seemingly not wanting to be beaten, and even requesting injury time to be added on, something we haven’t seen in most pre-season games.
Mal Benning has started pre-season in good form, with his goal at Carlton, and a lovely curling free kick against Bolton from which Pearce headed the second goal.
And in goal Scott Shearer made an excellent save at point blank range. It looks like he will start the season as number one keeper, ahead of Brian Jensen. But we know from last season that Jensen is more than good enough to take over should Shearer get injured or suffer a loss of form.
In midfield, Kevan Hurst showed some good delivery from set pieces and a touch of class. From open play, he may need to get a bit sharper.
The substitutes on Saturday only got about half an hour each, but that was enough for left sided midfielder CJ Hamilton to demonstrate his searing pace down the wings, putting defenders under pressure and winning several corners. He will be probably be fighting for a starting position with Ashley Hemmings, and at the moment it’s hard to choose between them.
Things seem to be coming together for Adam Murray’s new side, with just three weeks until the big kick-off.