Flying start as Stags beat Magpies 3-1 in opening friendly

Fergus Bell - good second display against Notts.
Fergus Bell - good second display against Notts.

Mansfield Town started their pre-season friendlies in style today as they came from behind to beat League One neighbours Notts County 3-1 in the summer heat of the One Call Stadium.

Brad McGowan beat trialist keeper Dimitar Evtimov after only eight minutes to put Stags on the back foot.

But Mansfield roared back with two goals in four minutes as Alex Fisher levelled from the spot and Martin Riley then headed the home side in front.

Ollie Palmer then popped up two minutes from time to seal it.

The first half was a full-blooded affair on a hot afternoon with Notts starting out the livelier before Stags took over and could have been further ahead than the 2-1 interval score with new boy Alex Fisher looking a handful and very close to a first half hat-trick.

Both sides changed almost every player for a much quieter second half, which saw few chances, but Friday signing, midfielder Fergus Bell caught the eye with his confidence on the ball and bursts of pace that caused County plenty of problems.

The fact that the names of trialists were kept under wraps caused plenty of problems in the press box as well.

However, one was revealed as Stags played Forest’s Bulgarian keeper Dimitar Evtimov as the latest of their trialists towards becoming Stags’ loan keeper for the start of the season.

Evtimov did not make the best of starts, spilling a hanging free kick from the left in the opening exchanges.

McGuire had the first goal attempt on seven minutes when he volleyed over from 18 yards.

Evtimov was then more decisive as he left his box to slide into a tackle to halt a Notts raid.

But the Magpies were ahead on eight minutes from their third corner from the right as McGowan was allowed space to prod home Balmy’s flag kick at the far post.

Fisher almost netted his first goal in a Stags shirt on 17 minutes when he found himself clean through down the centre from a Rhead flick.

The ball bounced invitingly for a lob, but, although he got it over the keeper, the ball bounced narrowly wide.

But he did find the net on 19 minutes from the spot after winning the penalty himself.

Racing into the box on the left, Fisher drew the keeper before going past him to his left.

The keeper did make contact and down went the striker, the referee pointing straight to the spot.

Fisher stepped up and confidently sent Spiess the wrong way to establish himself as an early contender for penalty-taker for the season.

The goal lifted Stags’ confidence and one of the trialists saw a first time shot deflect wide from McGuire’s pass.

From that corner Mansfield were ahead as Rhead nodded Murray’s left wing corner back to the other post where Riley buried a simple close range header on 23 minutes.

Despite the heat at pitch level, it was fast and furious with players squaring up after a couple of tasty challenges.

Another Rhead flick saw Fisher turn his man well to hook a shot over from 16 yards.

Rhead again set up Fisher down the centre with a nod-on. Fisher tried to lift the ball over Spiess again but this time the keeper shot up his left hand to make the block.

Rhead was having a splendid half and another perfect nod-down set up Clucas on the edge of the box, the Stags man whipping a left foot finish just wide of the left post.

Both sides rang the changes at the break, Stags leaving just Evtimov, Riley and Tafazolli on from the first half.

On came Sutton, Palmer, Clements, Howell, Marsden, Fergus Bell and more unnamed trialists.

Notts also changed their entire outfield 10, leaving only Spiess on in goal.

The new-look Stags made a decent start to the second half, winning their first three corners of the game in the first 17 minutes, though neither keeper was really troubled in that time.

Fergus Bell was looking particularly impressive and on 64 minutes forced Spiess into a fine save, diving to his right with a powerful effort from 20 yards.

A rare shooting chance saw Noble fire just wide from 20 yards for the visitors 12 minutes from time.

Dempster had to come up with a timely block on a low ball from the right of the box on 86 minutes.

But Mansfield sealed their win two minutes from time with the simplest of goals

Marsden hurled in a long throw from the right and Palmer rose at the near post to head firmly home under the angle.

STAGS: Evtimov; Riley, Dempster (Sutton HT), Tafazolli (Dempster 75); Trialist (Marsden HT), McGuire (Howell HT), Clucas (F. Bell HT), Murray (Clements HT), A. Bell (Trialist HT, Trialist 75); Rhead (Palmer HT), Fisher (Trialist HT).

REFEREE: Andy Haines.

ATTENDANCE: 2,331 (729 away).