STAGS BEAT NOTTS CO IN FRIENDLY
Stags win 4-2 in friendly
mansfieldtown.net, Wed 16 Feb 2011
Mark Stevenson reports from Meadow Lane
Almost all of Mansfield Town's squad featured in a 4-2 victory against a Notts County XI at Meadow Lane this afternoon.
The 11am kick off saw only Alan Marriott and Paul Connor rested, as a total of 23 players were used, including trialist full back Jamie Dixon.
It was the hosts, fielding a team of fringe first team players and trialists, who settled the better, but Stags never looked back after they found their groove. Goals from Adam Smith, Keigan Parker, Louis Briscoe and Kevin Sandwith secured the friendly win, but it was Notts who were first to find the net within eight minutes when County defender John Thompson headed home from close range following a corner.
Adam Smith, Stags lively wingman, was the first to test Notts' goalkeeper Rob Burch on 20 minutes. The ex-York player twisted and turned past County full back John Thompson before being denied by the County custodian from inside the area.
Two minutes later, Keigan Parker squared the ball across goal to Higginson, who mis-hit his shot. After County cleared, left-back Ben Turner rifled a stinging shot wide from outside the area.
Stags then stepped up a gear and began to apply pressure on the home goal. Steven Istead played a pin-point through ball onto the advancing Higginson, who was unlucky to see his venomous shot cannon back off the bar.
On 32, Parker did well to cross from the corner flag, but it was slightly too high to be connected by the rising Higginson.
Moments later, manager Duncan Russell made three defensive changes by introducing Rhys Day, Paul Stonehouse and Gary Silk, on his return to Meadow Lane.
Keigan Parker almost reduced the deficit when he ran on to an excellent pass by Medley, but the ball ran just too far ahead of him after he rounded the goalkeeper.
Adam Smith then almost broke the net on 41 minutes as Stags deservedly levelled the match. Picking up the ball 25 yards from goal, the 25 year old smashed a rocket-like shot which flew past Burch and into the net.
Stags goalkeeper David Grof, on loan from Notts, was called into action near the end of the half, having to palm away a long-range effort from County youth team player Lewis Williamson.
Mansfield held the advantage at half-time when Keigan Parker showed his class by lobbing goalkeeper Burch from the edge of the area.
Stags began the second half as they finished the first - in bright fashion. In the opening three minutes, Adam Smith clipped the left hand post with a curling effort from 20 yards as County found themselves under immediate pressure.
Then at the other end, Kevin Smith smashed his shot high into the Spion Kop from inside the area when he really should have tested Neil Collett, on at half time for David Grof.
Three more Stags changes were made on 52 minutes when Ashley Cain and Louis Briscoe were brought on to the wings.
County's Smith should have equalised on 59 minutes when he got past Rhys Day inside the area, but his tame effort did little to trouble Neil Collett.
Tom Naylor, along with strikers Niall O'Rafferty and Danny Mitchley, then came off the bench on the stroke of the hour, but Notts were back on terms within seconds after the change.
It was a case of third time lucky for County's Kevin Smith whose stunning free kick from 25 yards left Collett with no chance.
Mansfield tried to restore their lead on 66 minutes via substitute Niall O'Rafferty. The youngster powered his way through to goal, but was challenged by Notts defender Liam Chilvers just as he was about to pull the trigger.
It was Stags who looked the more likely to snatch a winner and they came close on 69 minutes when Louis Briscoe's effort flew over following a Kyle Nix corner.
With Notts on the back foot, O'Rafferty again cut open the home defence but was denied by a brilliant double-save by Rob Burch.
Moments later, Tom Naylor got in on the attacking moves, but his header from a left wing cross bobbled onto the roof of the net.
A further three substitutions were made by Duncan Russell when Kevin Sandwith, Tyrone Thompson and Adam Murray all came on for the final 17 minutes.
Stags found their reward on 75 minutes when Louis Briscoe pounced inside the area, finishing coolly by blasting the ball beyond Burch.
Jamie Dixon, a long-standing trialist at Field Mill and one the last players in the Stags' now dismantled youth, was introduced to the action.
Stags kept their foot on the pedal and with ten minutes left O'Rafferty's shot from inside the area was forced behind after a strong but clean challenge from County's Sodje.
But Mansfield put the result, for all its insignificance, beyond any doubt from the resulting corner when an unmarked Kevin Sandwith was left with the simple task of heading home from an accurate Ashley Cain flag kick.
Soon after the fourth, Dan Spence was back on the pitch in place of Gary Silk at right back.
In the final minutes, O'Rafferty's shot flashed wide as Stags looked to add to their tally, but in the end they were happy to run out 4-2 victors after a healthy work-out.
STAGS XI: Grof, Spence (Silk 33, Spence 81), Preece (Naylor 60), Foster (Day 33, Sandwith 73), Turner, (Stonehouse 33, Dixon 75), Higginson (Cain 52), Istead (Murray 73), Nix (Thompson 73), Smith (Briscoe 52), Medley (Mitchley 60), Parker, (O'Rafferty 60)
NOTTS XI: Burch, Thompson, Sodje, Chilvers (Troke 75), Whoolley, Trialist, Triliast 2, Spicer (Neal 78), Smith, Burgess (Williamson 17), Trialist 3
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