Mansfield Town kicked off their pre-season schedule by winning a trophy as a 5-1 win at Rainworth MW saw them lift the Green Energy Cup on Saturday.
There was even a fly past by the Red Arrows to usher in the new season.
After a summer of much change with so many new players being brought in by boss Adam Murray, pre-season training started last Monday with a residential week at Brooksby College in Melton Mowbray. So Saturday was the first opportunity for the fans to see the new Stags signings.
On a very hot, sunny afternoon, and on grass that looked a bit long, the Stags put out two different XI’s in each half.
There were plenty of encouraging performances with Nathan Thomas and Liam Marsden particularly catching the eye in the first half and Mal Benning, Adi Yussuf and Craig Westcarr most impressive in the second half.
Goals were shared around with Anthony Dwyer scoring the only Stags goal in the first half, Craig Westcarr, Nicky Hunt and two for Adi Yussuf in the second half.
The Stags defending for Rainworth’s goal was less impressive as youth teamer Louis Danquah was outpaced and then brought his man down from behind to concede a penalty.
Stags employed a 4-4-2 formation in both halves.
The first half saw them line-up: Scott Shearer; Liam Marsden, Lee Collins, Trialist centre-half, Louis Danquah (youth teamer at left back); Anthony Dwyer (right wing), Joe Fitzpatrick, Adam Chapman (captain), Nathan Thomas (left wing); Chris Beardsley, Tom Marriott (youth teamer up front).
Second half: Sam Wilson (youth team keeper); Nicky Hunt, Corbin Shires, Ryan Tafazolli, Mal Benning; Mitch Rose (right wing), Chris Clements, Jack Thomas, Reggie Lambe (left wing); Adi Yussuf, Craig Westcarr.
Other players present who did not play: Brian Jensen, Jamie McGuire, Matt Green, Conor Green, Chris Spencer, Dan Fletcher.
Returning hero Matt Green was busy warming up before the game and busy beating goalkeeper Brian Jensen in practice.
Having not taken part in some of the activities at Brooksby College due to a pre-arranged holiday, this game came too soon for Green to take part, but his shooting looked as sharp as ever beforehand.
Rainworth included three former Mansfield youth teamers: Jobe Shaw, Dan Williams and Lewis Chambers.
The Stags made all of the running in the first half. On five minutes, Fitzpatrick found Marsden on the right who put in a good cross that was met by Beardsley who firmly headed just wide of the right post.
On seven minutes, another cross came in from Marsden, but Beardsley just couldn’t get there with his head this time.
On 10 minutes, Nathan Thomas’ corner was cleared back to him, and he could only scuff a shot goalwards that was cleared. Liam Marsden was making a particularly good start to the game and he made a good tackle on 13 minutes.
A rare Rainworth attack on 16 minutes saw Liam Morris put Stags new centre half Lee Collins on his backside, the ball was played in from the right and Morris fired a free shot over the bar.
On 22 minutes, good skill from Nathan Thomas saw him beat his man on the left and earn a corner. The corner was taken by Chapman and came to nothing.
On 25 minutes, Collins conceded a free kick 30 yards out. Thomas Pereira took it, straight at Scott Shearer.
At the other end on 27 minutes, Chapman found young striker Tom Marriott just outside the box, he weaved his way into the box, and his shot was saved by a stretching keeper Nathan Burrows.
Mansfield took the lead on 30 minutes. It stemmed from good skill by Nathan Thomas, who threaded a lovely ball into the path of Anthony Dwyer who slid a shot past the keeper into the bottom left corner.
It should have been 2-0 on 33 minutes as Dwyer had a shot blocked after a ricochet.
Instead Rainworth were level on 34 minutes as young Stags left back Danquah was beaten for pace by former Stags youth teamer Chambers and Danquah brought his man down from behind. Chambers beat Shearer from the spot, into the bottom left corner of the net.
At the other end on 36 minutes, great play from Nathan Thomas on the left ended with a fine shot from 10 yards which was parried by the keeper. Two minutes later, Joe Fitzpatrick played a good one-two into the box but his soft shot was saved by the keeper.
On 42 minutes, Marsden put in an angled cross at 45 degrees, and Beardsley glanced a header wide of the left post.
Locked at 1-1 at the break, the Stags had played some nice football, with good use of both wings. Nathan Thomas and Liam Marsden stood out, Dwyer did some nice things on the right, Beardsley got in a couple of decent headers and won the ball well and the Stags should have been at least a goal in front but a bad goal conceded pegged the team back.
After a full change of the Stags XI at half-time, on 47 minutes, Jack Thomas fired wide from 20 yards.
Two minutes later, Lambe played a good one-two with Craig Westcarr and Lambe’s left footed shot was saved by the keeper’s boot.
Clements sprayed a fabulous crossfield pass to Benning on 52 minutes.
We then had the first sight of Yussuf on 56 minutes, as he did well on the right and his low cross was held by the keeper.
A good move from the Stags on 56 minutes as Jack Thomas found Lambe who fed Benning and his hard low cross was put behind for a corner.
Moments later the Stags regained the lead. Benning’s powerful cross from the left more or less hit Westcarr and looped into the top left corner of the net. It was right place at the right time for Westcarr and the reward of an assist to Benning, who had started the second half impressively pushing forward down the left.
On 62 minutes, Yussuf found Thomas, who crossed in from the right and Mitch Rose sidefooted over the bar.
It was 3-1 to Mansfield on 64 minutes. Westcarr fed the ball to Hunt on his right and Hunt slid a shot across the keeper low into the bottom left corner of the net. Nice to see a goal from a Stags full-back, they’ve been in short supply, though after the game Nicky Hunt warned that had been his one goal every five years.
It was 4-1 on 70 minutes. Yussuf this time with a clinical finish left footed from just inside the box into the bottom left corner, after being put through by Westcarr. It was a similar goal to the third, six minutes earlier.
On 77 minutes it was 5-1 with a good quick break from Mansfield as Westcarr found Yussuf who scored again with another clinical finish.
On 89 minutes, Westcarr found Rose on the right, Rose played it back in for Yussuf and the ball was cleared for a corner.
From the resulting corner, taken by Benning from the left, a half chance arrived right in front of goal for Shires but he couldn’t get the ball out from under his feet.
Then Benning had a powerful left-footed shot from the right which brought a flying save from the keeper.
This proved to be a good workout for the Stags and a convincing 5-1 victory, not that victories count for anything at this stage.
In the second half, Benning, Yussuf and Westcarr really caught the eye. It was not too much of a test for the defence, but Shires, Tafazolli and Hunt looked solid, while Benning spent much of the half pushing forward.
After the game, Stags’ first half captain Adam Chapman was presented with the Green Energy Cup.
RAINWORTH MW: Nathan Burrows, Matt Taylor, Jobe Shaw, Jack Andrews, Jordan Harris, Ricky Hansen, Lewis Chambers, Thomas Pereira, Liam Morris, Sam Dockwray, Danny Williams. Subs: Lewis Bingham, Luke Proctor, Max Curzon, Ben Bowring.
REFEREE: Ed Cook.