David Flitcroft said the post-match mass brawl that followed tonight’s 2-1 home friendly win against Sheffield Wednesday were scenes that no one ever wanted to see at a football ground.
The Stags boss had already intervened when his skipper Krystian Pearce became the latest home player to be upset by the challenges of Italian striker Fernando Forestieri and ran onto the field to lead him off away from the brewing trouble.
But Forestieri again got involved with home players on the whistle and this time a huge brawl broke out involving the players on the field, benches and stewards.
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“With seven or eight minutes to go Pearcey was visibly upset with something, so I got him off the pitch,” said Flitcroft.
“Pearcey has a character and a calmness about him as everyone can see. Supporters around here have known him longer than me.
“He has a calmness and assurance when playing football. But something riled him. Something rattled him and I was worried that, with him looking so wound up, he might do the wrong thing.
“So I got him off the pitch – sensible management in a pre-season game when there are no points to play for.
“You could really feel it boiling over. The events that happened afterwards are not scenes you want to see at any football game.
“Calum Butcher had a cut lip – he’s been punched in the face.
“We will maybe get to the bottom of it tomorrow and see where we go from there.”
Away from the fighting, Flitcroft was delighted with his side as they made it two wins and a draw against three Championship clubs inside a week.
“It was similar to the first 15 minutes of the Sheffield United game. Sometimes there is almost too much respect when you play a Championship team,” he said.
“I said to the boys at half-time ‘you are quality players in your own right and deserve to be out on that pitch’.
“It’s felt like our players question if they deserve to be out on the pitch with these players.
“But we’ve shown again tonight over the last 75 minutes we do. We can go step to step with a Championship team in terms of quality and fitness levels.
“We now need to believe we can go and win a game in the first 15 minutes and really make our mark on the opposition.
“I was absolutely delighted with some of our football and the way we opened them up at times.
“It doesn’t matter what team you play any any level, they are scared of pace and people running beyond or through you which is what we did on the first goal.”
With central defender Matty Preston forced off injured, youngster Lewis Gibbens had to play almost half a game and did superbly well.
“What a test for young Gibbo,” said Flitcroft.
“Matty Preston has tweaked something in his back from that challenge in the first half, which we will look at tomorrow. It was an unbeliveable tackle – a fair tackle and he won the ball but came out the wrong side of it. It stiffened up at half-time.
“It was a real test for Gibbo against Forestieri - worth a lot of money. It was a chance to see if Gibbo could step up to the plate and I thought he did fantastically well.”
With Stags short on defenders, it was a worry to see Hayden White also go off. But the manager said: “Hayden has settled down now. I was worried to begin with. He’d taken a whack to the nose but it was more a precaution.”
Flitcroft added that striker Craig Davies had been rested for the night after feeling pains from working on the hard sun-baked pitches but would be fine for next week.