Mansfield Town were held 1-1 in a highly physical pre-season friendly on a roasting hot afternoon at Conference North neighbours Alfreton Town on Saturday.
Stags were in front after just five minutes with a header by Matt Green, but the Reds hit back on 29 minutes through Adam Priestley.
Stags boss Adam Murray set this game up to provide a physical encounter and he certainly got it in a game with plenty of tough challenges, and had it been a league game there would have been at least half a dozen bookings, and probably a sending-off, mostly for the home side.
Home striker Paul Clayton, a thorn in Mansfield’s side during their Conference days, has returned to Alfreton from a spell at Harrogate, and gave Krystian Pearce a stern test, with plenty of physicality and winning most of his headers. Indeed, it was a good test for the Stags all over the pitch against this big physical Alfreton side.
Click HERE to see video of Matt Green’s goal for Mansfield
Afterwards Adam Murray said it was just what his team needed.
Mansfield had started the game well during the opening 25 minutes with some good movement forward and Kevan Hurst looking particularly impressive, including plenty of good crosses.
Alfreton then forced their way back into the game with direct football that really gave Mansfield a test at the back.
Mansfield used this game, and the game against Hull last Tuesday, to give a run out to two different unnamed left back trialists.
Saturday’s trialist left back had a good game, looking solid defensively with timely clearances, and getting forward at every opportunity, with some good interplay down the left and good crosses.
Alfreton included some familiar names with Fabian Spiess in goal, who played for Mansfield in pre-season a couple of years ago, and Craig Westcarr on the bench, who played for Mansfield last season
Mansfield began the game in a 4-1-3-2 formation with Lee Collins in front of the back four.
After having an early appeal for a penalty turned down, Mansfield swept ahead after five minutes thanks to a howler from keeper Speiss.
Hurst swung a high cross from the right which was heading towards the top left corner of the net, just under the bar. Spiess patted it away, but straight to Matt Green who headed into the empty net from two yards.
Danny Rose might have doubled the lead on 15 minutes but headed straight at Spiess from eight yards after losing his marker.
Instead it was 1-1 just before the half-hour mark. A long free kick from Spiess saw Clayton outjump Pearce to flick into the path of Adam Priestley, who took one touch on the left and fired under Scott Shearer from a tight angle.
Five minutes later, Doyle’s right wing cross found Priestley, who got away from Collins and poked a shot straight at Shearer.
On 38 minutes there was a flare-up between Collins and Clayton after Clayton was late on Collins and could have caused an injury. No yellows seem to be issued in pre-season but that should have been one.
Stags twice came close in stoppage time as great play by Hurst to get to the byline, saw him pull the ball back to Hemmings, who fired a right foot shot wide of the left post from about 15 yards.
Then Hemmings sent a left footed shot over the bar after a corner was cleared to him.
Green created the first danger of the second half, picking the ball up on the left on the edge of the area, cutting inside and firing in a left-footed shot, straight at the keeper.
Right back Bennett twice got forward to head chances wide from a Hurst cross, then a Clements free kick, before Hamilton sent in a dangerous cross that no one was able to convert.
As the substitutions continued to roll, more good play down the left by Mansfield saw the trialist left back head down to Hamilton and back to the left back, who fired in a low shot that was well saved low down by Spiess on 74 minutes.
With seven minutes left, good defending from Collins halted Alfreton as broke into the Stags box after a mistake by George Taft.
The visitors ended the game on the attack as Hamilton crossed into middle where Clements fired straight at the keeper, who fumbled but gathered before Danny Rose could poke home.
ALFRETON: Spiess, Doyle (Westcarr 78), Heaton (Smith 46), McGowan, Jordan, Nyoni, Monkhouse, Keane (Allan 46), Bradley, Priestly (Wilson 46), Clayton (Garnett 46).
STAGS: Shearer; Bennett, Taft, Pearce, Trialist; Collins; Hurst (CJ Hamilton 67), Clements, Hemmings (Mitch Rose 55); Danny Rose, Green (Baxendale 72). Subs not used: McGuire, Hakeem, Humphries, Niall Blake.
REFEREE: Dave Plowright.