Bradley, Greenacre   Ricard, Boksic Marinelli, 

Saturday 28th July 2001

Pre-Season Friendly

Attendance:  3,152

Prior to this match Labour Deputy leader John Prescott (of egg fame) officially opened the redeveloped Field Mill (some 6 months after it's actual completion).  Having done his bit for the local MP, he left without further incident.

Middlesbrough began with a very strong line-up, which as expected included Alen Boksic and debut man Gareth Southgate.  Indeed the Boro' side was pretty much their Premiership starting eleven.  The Stags were without a recognised centre half as both Stuart Reddington and Adam Barrett were injured and John Andrews was just on the bench.  Skipper Les Robinson and Alistair Asher were the central defensive partnership, with Hassell and Pemberton as full backs.  The four across the middle were as against Sunderland, Williamson and  Disley in the middle with Lawrence and Corden wide.  The very promising duo of Bradley and Greenacre lead the Stags attack.

The game started in an open and competitive fashion, with Bobby Hassell and Keith O'Neill enjoying an early tussle.  Stags were first to fire at goal, Lawrence hitting over from 20 yards after Disley and Williamson had combined together neatly.  However, the Stags bright start counted for nothing when Alen Boksic stamped his undoubted class on the game, neatly lobbing the Stags defence for Ricard to run in and beat the helpless Pilkington.  It was a simple goal which left many Stags fans concerned at the path the game was going to take.  However, the fans need not have worried, the young Stags side has undoubted potential but again this afternoon showed it also had guts and determination.  The game flowed from end to end, Pilkington forced into a great save from Ricard whilst at the other end Greenacre and Lawrence forced saves from former Forest keeper Crossley.  The Stags were on top of the central midfield battle, some achievement from Williamson and Disley against Ince and Mustoe.  This dominance helped create the Stags equaliser, and what a great goal it was.  Hassell chipped a great ball over the Boro defence and found Bradley on the right hand edge of the box, the striker cut in and unleashed a cool finish past Crossley.  The Stags were now enjoying their best spell of the half and in a great move Bradley almost headed home Lawrence's terrific right wing cross.  Stags should have fallen behind again when Ricard incredibly headed wide from 5 yards after a great cross by O'Neill.  Just as fans thought the Stags were to take Boro' in all square at half time disaster struck.  A long ball found Boksic unmarked and through, the Stags defenders looked at the Assistant expecting a flag, but it never came and Boksic finished neatly past Pilkington.  Quite clearly a poor decision from the Assistant as Boksic was clearly in an offside position when the ball was played.

Half-Time 1-2

Stags again began brightly and Boro seemed a little unsettled by several substitutions at half time.  Corden, still performing well on the left was first to test Crossley with a fine right footed strike which the keeper could only palm away, sadly no Stags player was on hand to finish.  At the other end sub Windass won the dive of the day competition with a spectacular effort over Alistair Asher's body as the young Stags defender was laid prone.  Stags then got a second equaliser, Chris Greenacre neatly volleying home at the far post from Corden's well delivered cross.  Boro' almost hit back immediately when Marinelli hit the foot of Pilkington's post.  However, they were not to be denied a winner as Boro' capitalised on a rare Stags error.  Lee Williams gave the ball away inside his own half, Marinelli received the ball on the right, cut inside and curled a terrific shot past Pilkington, a goal of real quality.  Stags still could have got the draw  their display had deserved when sub Andy White smashed a 20 yard drive just past the post.

So defeat but again this young Stags side showed tremendous promise.  Strong in all areas of the pitch perhaps the only weakness was the lack of a natural centre half, though both Robinson and Asher did admirably well.  Though there was a gap in class between the two sides, it looked nowhere near the three divisions there is - whether that is Boro' being poor or the Stags liking the extra time they get against Premiership opposition is debatable.

Stagsnet Man of the Match:  Wayne Corden   


Stags: Pilkington 7, Asher 7, Pemberton 6 (Williams 66, 6), Robinson 8, Bradley 8 (White 83, 6), Greenacre 7 (Bacon 83, 6), Corden 8, Hassell 7, Disley 7, Williamson 8 (Andrews 87, 6), Lawrence 7(Jervis 66, 6). Unused Sub: Bingham

Boro: Crossley (Beresford 66), Fleming (Gavin 54), Gordon (Stockdale 59), Ehiogu (Cooper 66), Southgate (Vickers 66), Desire-Job (Deane 76), Ince (Summerbell 76), Mustoe (Marinelli 45), O'Neill (Hudson 76), Ricard (Whelan 66), Boksic (Windass 45)