EVENING POST REPORT
STAGS BOYS OFFER REASONS FOR HOPE
Evening Post, 31 July 2002
Mansfield Town 0 v 0 Derby County - match abandoned
Mansfield Town's friendly against Derby was abandoned after 43 minutes last night, but IAN WILKERSON believes it was not a complete waste of time . . .
With the dramatic levels of rain forcing Mansfield's friendly against Derby to be abandoned last night, many could be forgiven for thinking the whole episode was a wasted exercise.
It was certainly frustrating because, as Stuart Watkiss hinted afterwards, the game was just bubbling nicely before the playing field became the sort of environment ducks and Ian Thorpe would revel in.
So let's get the climatic report out of the way.
There was no option but to call a halt to proceedings. If you looked out of your living room window last night at about 8.15, to see the water running down your street, no words are required as further illustration of the point.
Footballs got stuck in water and players slid across the grass that became more Everglade-like by the minute. It all happened and such conditions are not conducive to allowing footballers to demonstrate their skills.
But, from the 43 minutes that were played before referee Steve Baines knocked events on the head, Stags showed a notable improvement on what they served up when Forest came to town on Saturday.
John Gregory's side were not allowed to dictate affairs. Stags created chances and good defending limited Derby's progress, at least before the rain made the pitch troublesome, although Malcolm Christie looked particularly dangerous.
And that was why it was not a complete waste of time.
Those who braved the monsoon will be able to correct those who rubbished Saturday"s show and came to the conclusion that Stags would be lucky to get as many points as the Star of David once Division Two hostilities commence.
The passing was crisper, when uninterrupted by the rain, and there seemed a greater purpose.
After being trampled on by Forest, it was heartening to see them attempting to force the issue against a team from a superior division, containing a substitute in Fabrizio Ravanelli who reportedly earns more during a half-time interval than some of the Stags players take home in a week.
Matthew Gadsby again demonstrated strength and the ability to make the right decision at the right time in the unusual left-back position, which will bode well for the remainder of his three-month stay.
Andy White was strong and played one of his most effective halves in a Stags shirt and Kevin Pilkington was on hand to make a couple of confident saves.
The appearance of Iyseden Christie gave an extra lift as well as he received a generous welcome from the Stags faithful and it will be interesting to see whether he can force his way through into Watkiss's plans.
Some questions were answered and there were others to be thought about in the coming months, not least how the two teams will approach the Worthington Cup clash on September 10.
No doubt it will be different but the 43 minutes that were completed demonstrated Stags should not approach the match with the feeling they are heading for a hiding.
And the same attitude could be adopted by anyone of the amber-and-blue persuasion as they approach their first season out of the basement league for ten years.
So, by scratching under the surface, there were still positives to think about after managing to navigate the torrents and scramble back into the car.
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