MANSFIELD 1 - 3 SHEFFIELD UNITED
STAGS: Gamble, Silk, Abbott, Somner, O'Hare, Arnold (O'Connor 53), D'Laryea (Shaw 61), Stallard, Lee (Robinson 86), Blackwood (Hurst 72), Hurran. Subs not used: Burrell, Goward, McGhee, Wood, Trimmer.
Read report at mansfieldtown.net here
Read report at CHAD.co.uk here
A string of fines saves by on trial goalkeeper Paddy Gamble kept Mansfield Town in this game until right at the death.
United, looking far more hungry than Championship rivals Derby County on Saturday, came out firing on all cylinders and were 2-0 up inside 11 minutes through Billy Sharp and a Jon Stead corker.
And only some superb stops by former Forest youngster Gamble prevented the Blades racing away with it.
However, Mark Stallard put Stags back in the contest on 21 minutes and Michael Blackwood had an effort disallowed that would have levelled matters.
But, unsurprisingly, United, who play three levels above Mansfield, were by far the better side and Alan O'Hare made a goal line clearance while Gamble continued to prove himself an excellent shot stopper until a Billy Sharp penalty in the last minute finally beat him to settle an entertaining pre-season friendly.
Stags restored Jason Lee to the starting XI. Also included were fellow trialists Gavin Hurran, new name Mark Abbott plus Michael Blackwood.
Blades sent a decent side down including Jon Stead, Sun Jihai, Lee Hendrie, Billy Sharp and Ugo Ehiogu.
Gamble saved bravely in the third minute as Sharp swung a boot at a ball allowed to bounce in the six yard box and the young keeper held on.
But the visitors stole a fortunate opening goal on seven minutes when a long ball down the left hit Sharp, then Silk and then bounced back into Sharp's path. He took it on and bundled a finish past Gamble.
Stags had made a sluggish start and should have been 2-0 down on 10 minutes as United struck both their posts in quick succession.
Stead was allowed too much space just inside the box and hit a low shot that came back off Gamble's right hand post. Hendrie followed up with an almost identical effort off the other upright and when the ball rolled back to him he struck another effort that Gamble parried.
But Blades had their reward in style a minute later as ex-Huddersfield and Sunderland star Stead turned 25 yards out to superbly find the top left hand corner with a top class finish that drew applause from the home fans too.
Armstrong out jumped Hurran to nod tamely at Gamble as United continued to pen Stags in their own half.
But they finally broke out on 18 minutes with Blackwood running at the defence before forcing Bennett to tip over his dipping 20 yard shot.
Arnold put over the corner and Somner met it with a glancing header at the near post that only just cleared the bar.
But Stags were back in the game with another deadly piece of finishing by Stallard on 21 minutes. Blackwood sent over a low cross right into the middle of the six yard box from the left and Stallard tucked it away first time.
More hesitant Mansfield defending gave Sharp another sight of goal on 26 minutes but he failed to even force the overworked Gamble into a save, curling over the top right angle.
A poor Gamble clearance left Hendrie a brief chance of lifting the ball into an empty net. But from 45 yards it was always going to be a huge task and it was easily blocked by the chest of O'Hare in the box.
Six minutes from the break Stead again tested Gamble with a powerful 15 yards shot towards the near post which the youngster was able to turn aside for a corner.
Stags survived that and three more though Naughton did force a flying save from Gamble to his left to keep out a blockbuster 25 yard effort after Stags had cleared the third of the flag kicks.
The young keeper was in fine form and had to produce a great reaction save to beat out a close range Stead header in stoppage time from Montgomery's left wing cross.
So, despite so many chances and so much possession for United, Stags went in still firmly in the game.
Mansfield began the second half again defending desperately under pressure from the lively and inventive visitors.
From Mansfield's first raid of the half on 55 minutes Blackwood thought he had levelled when he stooped to head home from Lee's flick only to see it ruled out for offside.
Quick thinking by Stallard saw him try to hoist a square pass from Robinson immediately over Bennett from 20 yards but he was too high.
Blackwood saw a fierce shot deflect wide for Stags while Armstrong curled a free kick wide of the post and Sharp was only just wide on the turn for the visitors as the score remained 2-1.
Hendrie had a shot blocked by O'Hare in the visitors' next threat and on 77 minutes the move of the match, a succession of one-touch passing, saw Hendrie just fail to crown it with a goal as he sent a low finish a foot the wrong side of the post from 18 yards.
Hurran was in the way of a Sharp shot and then O'Hare popped up to clear off the line on 79 minutes as Robertson beat Gamble with a first time sidefooted finish.
A great turn by Robertson took him into the box and straight in on Gamble only to se the keeper again make a great save.
However, United made the result certain in the final minute after Blackwood held onto Ehiogu at the far post and Sharp blasted a confident low finish past Gamble from the spot.
STAGS: Gamble, Silk, Abbott, Somner, O'Hare, Arnold (O'Connor 53), D'Laryea (Shaw 61), Stallard, Lee (Burrell 86), Blackwood (Hurst 72), Hurran. Subs: Robinson, Goward, McGhee, Wood, Trimmer.
BLADES: Bennett, Lowton, Stead (Robinson 59), Hendrie, Jihai (Quinn 80), Wedgebury, Montgomery, Armstrong, Sharp, Naughton, Ehiogu. Subs: Walker, Annerson, Law.
REFEREE: Mark Naylor.
ATTENDANCE: 2,432 (257 away).
CHAD STAGS MAN OF THE MATCH: Paddy Gamble.
Current Stags trialists in 'pole position' for contracts
BILLY McEwan's trialists all did their chances of staying no harm in tonight's 3-1 home defeat by Championship neighbours Sheffield United.
Observer report by Steve Hartshorn:
THE COMING OF A BRAND NEW AGE
It is the start of a brand new age at Field Mill and despite two defeats against League opposition; there is at least a warm glow of togetherness emanating from one and all that have Mansfield Town FC in their hearts.
The doom and even bigger gloom that saw relegation from the football league at the end of last season seems but a distant memory as the Club, Haslam free for the first time in many a year grasps a new lifeline with both hands.
On Saturday, Derby County, themselves with something to aim for other than despondency following their disastrous Premiership campaign last season, could and perhaps should have expected an easy ride on the plush Field Mill turf, but it wasn't to be, Alan O'Hare giving the Stags an early lead from a well worked corner. It didn't last though as The Rams forced an equaliser after good work from Oster had set up an easy close range finish for Rob Hulse.
Hulse was proving to be a handful for the Stags defence, but O'Hare and his fellow defenders coped quite well as the former Premiership side laboured their way through the first half.
Stags re-took the lead through Mark Stallard and a well-taken goal it was to. Jeannin knocked the ball wide for Aaron O'Connor to run at the Derby defence; he then slotted the ball into the path of Stallard, who jigged his way through a couple of challenges before finishing well past Roy Carroll.
Jeannin then went close to adding a Stags 3rd but his effort went wide of the mark. The last real chance of an entertaining 1st period came from Hulse who strike with the outside of his right boot sailed high and wide over the Stags crossbar.
The 2nd half saw both managers take the opportunity to make a number of changes. This unsettled Stags more than their visitors with Derby equalising from a corner when Villa was presented with a free header. It was 3-2 to The Rams minutes later when a four on three break saw a neat finish by Paul Green.
With just seconds to go, Ryan Goward was upended in the Derby area and Stags were awarded a penalty kick. Unfortunately, with what turned out to be the last kick of the game, Goward saw his spot-kick well saved by Carroll.
Fans walked away seemingly pleased with the battle shown against what was in truth a side that albeit totted up the worst premiership points total in history, was still made up of so-called quality players.
The same assumption could also be made about the 3-1 defeat on Monday night to a strong Sheffield United side. United, one of the pre-season favourites for promotion from the Championship, took a 7th minute lead when Billy Sharp made the most of a defensive slip up by Stags' Gary Silk. It was 2-0 on 11 minutes when former Blackburn and Sunderland striker, Jon Stead left O'Hare behind before unleashing an unstoppable shot past the outstretched hand of Paddy Gamble in the Mansfield goal.
There looked at this point as if there was going to be a torrent of United goals, but somehow Stags steadied themselves and indeed got back into the game when Blackwood did well to beat Naughton down the United right hand side before crossing in for Stallard to finish neatly from close range.
United peppered away at the Mansfield goal giving Gamble a little more work to do on the night than he would have wished.
In the 2nd half, again as with Saturday's game, both sides made a number of changes.
Blackwood had a goal ruled out for offside after getting on the end of a Jason Lee headed knockdown and O'Connor had an effort deflected wide but other than that, it was the visitors who created the better opportunities with Nick Montgomerie going close on several occasions and Jordan Robertson also causing Gamble in the Stags goal cause for concern.
There would have been no complaints if the scoreline had remained 2-1 to United, but in the last minute the Referee saw fit to award the visitors a penalty kick after Ehiogu was adjudged to have been pushed. Sharp putting away the spot kick.
And so the start of a brand new era for Mansfield Town had resulted in two defeats, but two defeats where the Club, it's players and supporters could hold their heads high. The team mainly made up of trialists had clashed with so-called better opposition and had not let themselves down. Is there something to build on at last? You bet there is.
New away kit unveiled against Sheffield United. See it at mansfieldtown.net here
Report from Sheffield Star:
On-target strike duo give United boss selection headache
Mansfield Town v Sheffield United XI
By James Shield
Mansfield Town 1 v Sheffield United XI 3: AN IMPRESSIVE 60-minute cameo from Sheffield United's Jon Stead provided Kevin Blackwell with further food for thought ahead of next month's Championship curtain-raiser at Birmingham City.
Stead, one of five forwards challenging for a starting role in the Midlands, pressed his case with a threatening performance against Mansfield Town last night.
His early goal - a perfectly-weighted 20-yard effort - was the highlight of an absorbing encounter and boss Blackwell's decision to withdraw him with a third of the match remaining could provide a clue as to his thinking.
The United manager will also have been encouraged by the efforts of Stead's strike partner, Billy Sharp, whose energy and tenacity was rewarded with two goals either side of his teammate's eye-catching finish.
With Danny Webber, Darius Henderson and possibly James Beattie completing a plethora of attacking options, Blackwell is guaranteed a welcome selection headache as he attempts to bring Premier League football back to Bramall Lane.
Despite naming this as a reserve-team fixture, United dispatched a strong squad to Field Mill and the difference in quality between the two teams was quickly in evidence as the visitors scored twice inside the opening 12 minutes.
First Sharp, one of eight senior professionals included in United's starting 11, held off Gary Silk before slipping the ball beyond a helpless Paddy Gamble.
The manager's insistence that seats on the coach to St Andrews are still up for grabs, combined with his presence on the touchline, provided United with even greater incentive to heighten the pressure on their opponents.
Lee Hendrie and Stead both struck the post during a dramatic scramble inside the penalty area before the latter doubled United's advantage.
Nigel Adkins, Blackwell's counterpart at Scunthorpe, nodded his head in appreciation as he watched from the stands.
But if United thought that marked the end of Mansfield's resistance they were mistaken.
Michael Blackwood, a signing from Kidderminster, was instrumental in the move which saw them reduce the deficit in the first half.
Blackwood delivered the cross which saw Mark Stallard convert, but United responded when Kyle Naughton and Stead went close.
United hearts were in mouths when Sun Jihai, dismissed on his debut, received a lecture for a clumsy foul before Sharp claimed his second from the spot.
Mansfield Town: Gamble, Silk, Abbott, Somner, O'Hare, Arnold (O'Connor 53), D'Laryea (Shaw 62), Stallard, Lee (Burrell 85), Blackwood (Hurst 72), Hurran.
United: Bennett, Lowton, Stead (Robertson 59), Hendrie, Sun Jihai (K Quinn 79), Wedgbury, Montgomery, Armstrong, Sharp, Naughton, Ehiogu.
Referee: M Naylor.
Latest | August 2008