Matt Green shone and put away a brace as what could be Mansfield Town’s season-starting line-up edged a thriller 4-3 in their second pre-season friendly of the day at Evo-Stik NPL Division One South Carlton Town.
With a Stags XI drawing 2-2 at Clipstone earlier in the day, this starting XI looked very close to one boss Adam Murray may go with by the big kick-off.
They took the lead three times through a razor sharp Green (2) and Mal Benning, but were twice pegged back through their own errors, mistakes by Krystian Pearce and Brian Jensen being punished by goals.
Click HERE to read a report of the earlier friendly at Clipstone
Even after young striker Jason Law had given himself a massive tonic by making it 4-2, Carlton refused to give up, with the visitors by now an almost complete youth side after substitutions, and pulled another back to leave a nervy finish.
But it was a good work-out for Murray’s side with Lee Collins excellent in a holding midfield role and Chris Clements spraying some sublime passes.
Stags dominated the first half with only that error by Pearce allowing the home side a goal with their only on-target shot of the half.
Collins, Clements and Kevan Hurst were all busy and inventive in midfield, full backs Rhys Bennett and Benning bombed on, and Green and Danny Rose were a constant menace up front
On over-long grass, the game took time to get going with Hurst sending a low cross in front of goal on nine minutes where no one could connect.
Clements and Hurst missed the target while Benning sent a free kick from his favoured position well over the top.
Carlton were chasing the ball and keeper Jensen a spectator, happy to see Mathew Newton slice the home side’s first shot well over on 25 minutes.
Rose was jumping well and showing good control, but sent a tame header at keeper Jack Steggles on 29 minutes.
But Mansfield were in front a minute later as an under-pressure Carlton saw a half-clearance fired back past the keeper from 15 yards as Benning found the net with a low finish.
However, seven minutes later the game was somehow all square as Newton put the ball in from the right, Pearce failed to clear in front of goal and Curtis Millward poked the loose ball past Jensen.
The equaliser served only to spark Stags back onto the attack and on 41 minutes their lead was restored by Green.
Full back Lawrence Gorman looked favourite to win a ball from the right, but Green out-muscled him to win it, then turned him well and zipped home a vicious finish from the left of the box inside the near post.
Mansfield began the second half well and Clements quickly sent Green clear with a superb pass only to see the striker shoot tamely at the keeper.
But another mistake again gifted the home side a goal to square things up on 48 minutes.
Jensen ran out his goal to the left to clear, but his kick was poor and only reached Jake Wholey, who, seeing the goal gaping from 25 yards did superbly well to loft the ball home as Jensen raced back in vain.
It took Stags a while to settle again but, after Carlton had survived a couple of corners, Green put the Stags in front for a third time on 58 minutes.
Bennett swung in a great cross from the right and Green turned it past Steggles first time from close in.
Hemmings’ long range pot took a deflection but still found the keeper’s hands, then fresh sub Hakeem shot at the keeper on the turn.
The subs began to flow and on 72 minutes young striker Jason Law rose well to head home a long Marriott free kick from the left to give the now very youthful visitors a two-goal cushion for the first time all afternoon.
But the goals feast was not over yet and Carlton pulled one back on 77 minutes as a far post corner was squeezed home inside the post by Gorman.
On 84 minutes Jensen then had his first real save of the day to make as he blocked a fierce Lusamba drive at his near post.
At the other end Law wasn’t too far wide of curling the ball inside the far post from distance.
CARLTON: Steggles, Gorman (Charlton 82), Fletcher, Keane (Knight 71), Graham (Sawyer 82), Walker, Schoenecker (Wholey 19), Newton (Stovell 60), Topliss Wedderburn HT), Millward (Rae 56), Davie (Lusamba 64).
STAGS: Jensen, Bennett (Bloor 69), Taft (youth teamer 61), Pearce (Ratcliffe 71), Benning (youth teamer 67), Collins (Smith 69), Clements (youth teamer 71), Hurst (Marriott 67), Hemmings (Smith 71), Green (Hakeem 64), Rose (Law 64).
REFEREE: Declan Bourne.