FRIENDLY: NUNEATON 2 - 1 MANSFIELD
Nuneaton Town 2 Mansfield Town 1 - 12th July 2011
Hadland 14, Smith 32. Stevenson 6
Att: 370 (source twitter.com/Official_NTFC)
Stagsnet ratings by Pete Wright
Some very encouraging aspects last night.
Marriott - usual very confident display, no chance with the goals
O'Neill - steady, didn't do anything wrong defensively but didn't attack much.
Sutton - disappointed with his performance, but up against a very good centre forward who had just signed from Worcester, perhaps lacking an experienced centre back partner was his problem last night.
Naylor - injured early on.
Carruthers - excellent and a must sign player, very good left foot and involved in set up play for first goal, moved to centre half in second half and played much better than Bell in middle of back four
Worthington - will be better when he has improved his match fitness, can see the potential but not 100% sharp yet.
Murray - buzzing around all night, involved with everything, really trying and putting himself about, played well
Stevenson - playing just behind central striker - looks an outstanding player, took his goal very well indeed.
Briscoe - winger - not bad, had a good effort on goal in first half, shot just wide of goal, however overall things did just not quite click.
Connor - a very frustrating night for him, referee giving a lot of fouls against him, seems to have lost half a yard of pace, well marshalled by their defence.
Dyer - very promising when played central striker in second half, a bit quiet when played as wide in a 3 up front.
Bell - replaced Naylor, early on. Definitely not a centre half, his mistake for second goal, didn't win a header all night, moved to left back in second half and played a bit better.
Redmond - goalkeeper - one very good save and didn't put a foot wrong, no problem if he had to play in first team.
Howell - mid field - slow start but came into it towards the end.
Todd - all left foot but played on right mid field, very nearly equalised with a header late on which goalkeeper made a good save, could do a very reasonable job if called upon.
Miekle - right winger - very fast and tricky, just needs final effective pass, but should come good.
Smith - very confident and a lot of skill beating players, but again needed final effective pass.
Obed - late right back sub - excellent on the ball when going forward, defended what he had to do, get him signed up, oozed quality.
Nathan Craig - Everton reserve left back - late sub again - steady didn't have much involvement.
Mitchley – again very ineffective – just not good enough.
Bolland and Day sat in stands
Disappointed that we didn't get a draw out of the game, but tonight wasn't about the result.
Majority of new players seem to be good signings, however not sure about Sutton & Bell. Connor needs to improve or Dyer will be up front leading the attack. Briscoe played in his normal wing attack position and if Cox plays this 4-2-1-3 formation then Miekle will definitely be pushing Briscoe for his starting position.
Priority is the signing of a centre back.
Stevenson however looks to be the signing everyone has been waiting for.
Nuneaton 2-1 Stags
Blue Square Bet North hopefuls Nuneaton Town came from behind to earn a 2-1 friendly win, after Stags new signing Lee Stevenson had put Mansfield ahead after six minutes.
Ten new recruits were paraded in Mansfield's first senior pre-season match, with five players surviving from last term. Chris Carruthers who plyed his trade York last season, ex-Everton defender Nathan Craig and Rhema Obed, formerly of Arsenal, completed Stags' squad.
The fortunate four who made the transition from last season to this were young starlet Tom Naylor, skipper Adam Murray, player-of-the-season Louis Briscoe and marksman Paul Connor.
Mansfield were given a solid work out against a side who should be competing in the top five of their division on this showing.
Stags, lining up in a 4-3-3 formation, were quick to break the deadlock with their first attack of the match on six minutes. Goal machine Lee Stevenson, who bagged 35 goals for Eastwood last term, found the net with a well placed left-footed volley from Chris Carruthers' left wing cross.
Tom Naylor left the field four minutes later, as a precaution to a tweak in a hamstring, and was replaced by Matt Bell.
But Nuneaton were soon level on 14 minutes when James Armson's right-sided free kick was met by a stooping Guy Hadland in the box, whose header carried too much power for Stags' custodian Alan Marriott.
The hosts almost went ahead via a quick break away on 20 minutes. Danny Glover breached the offside trap but was driven wide by Marriott as he scurried from his goal. After Glover whipped a cross in to the box for Armson, Stags' defender Ritchie Sutton came threw himself into the path of the shot to deny the Conference North side a second.
Then Louis Briscoe came alive for Stags as the half-hour mark passed when he glided by two players on the edge of the box before shooting inches past the far post, with Ross Dyer sliding in at the last moment unable to make contact.
But it was Nuneaton who were to find the second goal, and ultimately the winner, just two minutes later when ex-Forest Green midfielder Lee Smith got the better of the Stags defence before slipping the ball under Marriott.
On 38, Chris Carruthers delivered an inviting cross from the left but no one was in the middle to meet it.
Luke O'Neill, one of 11 summer signings, then whipped a ball in from the right but home goalkeeper Danny Alcock was first to it.
As the first half came to a close, Danny Glover struck wide with the aid of a deflection following Guy Hadland's cross from the right after he peeled away on the wing.
Stags remained unchanged after the break and within five minutes of the restart, Ross Dyer powered a header just wide from a right wing free kick by Briscoe.
Boss Paul Cox then made five changes with 58 minutes gone when goalkeeper Shane Redmond along with Lindon Meikle, Andy Todd, Anthony Howell and Adam Smith replaced Alan Marriott, Louis Briscoe Jon Worthington, Lee Stevenson and Paul Connor.
Nuneaton then tested Shane Redmond ten minutes later when Danny Glover pulled the trigger from the edge of the area, but the Irish 'keeper was well behind it.
Then at the other end, Stags had a penalty appeal waved away when Ross Dyer went to ground under a challenge but referee Grant Taylor allowed play to continue.
Shane Redmond was called upon again when he got down well to beat away a Mark Albrighton shot from the right side of the area.
With only 12 minutes to impress, ex-Everton defender Nathan Craig and Rhema Obed, formerly of Arsenal took to the field, on for Matt Bell and Luke O'Neill.
Moments later, Ross Dyer left the pitch, replaced by Danny Mitchley.
With five minutes to play, experienced midfield general Andy Todd floated in a right-sided cross, which Anthony Howell placed just wide with a strong header.
Todd almost turned from provider to goalscorer, had it not been for a wonder save from Alcok. Howell floated from the left and Todd rose well and may have thought it would hit the net, had it not been for a brilliant one-handed stop from Alkock.
STAGS' Starting XI & changes: Marriott (Redmond 58), O'Neill, (Rhema Obed 78), Carruthers, (78) , Naylor (Bell 10, Nathan Craig), Sutton, Murray, Worthington (Todd 58), Stevenson (Smith 58), Briscoe (Howell 58), Connor (Meikle 58), Dyer (Mitchley 79)
Stags boss: “We looked disjointed against Nuneaton”
STAGS boss Paul Cox is hoping to sign an experienced top quality former Championship central defender this morning.
He has played for his country and will massively boost a department that was certainly lacking in last night's 2-1 pre-season friendly defeat at Conference North Nuneaton Town.
Once Tom Naylor had gone off with a hamstring problem after only 10 minutes, Stags had to use diminutive full back Matt Bell in the centre and they were twice pierced by a Nuneaton side expected to be challenging for honours this year.
However, there were many good signs going forward in a 4-3-3 formation with Lee Stevenson notching his first goal for the club early on.
“We didn't look a solid unit, we looked like a team that had just been put together which is not surprising as the lads have only been together 10 or 11 days,” said Cox.
“We came here wanting to win it but also test ourselves and the game was too open for me, too end to end.
“We looked disjointed and rusty. But, having said all that, there were some positives to come out if it. It was a really good work out. I said all along I would have been surprised if we were the finished package straight away.
“There is lots to work on, but bits and bobs that were really positive when we started to relax and play a few passes.
“We created three or four really good chances later on and should have had a blatant penalty in the first half.”
Former Northampton, Oxford and Bristol Rovers left back Chris Carruthers had a decent game on trial and Cox added: “I thought he did pretty well but I have one or two others I am looking to bring in too so I will have a think about it over the next 24 hours.
“But Chris did himself no harm with that performance.”
Apart from Rhys Day, the only player unable to take part was Paul Bolland who is under doctor's orders to rest his shoulder from contact for another 10 days
Nuneaton Town 2 Mansfield Town 1 - 12th July 2011
NEW-look Mansfield Town squandered an early led as they went down 2-1 in their first full pre-season friendly at Nuneaton Town last night.
Goal machine Lee Stevenson gave Stags a sixth minute lead and, going forward, they impressed hugely with some excellent football against a Nuneaton side expected to challenge for promotion again.
But the defending was not as good as the Boro grabbed a 14th minute equaliser through Guy Hadland and a 32nd minute winner from Lee Smith.
Stags fans would have been delighted to see how comfortable the new signings looked on the ball and the quality of some of their side's football with Stevenson's work rate and Adam Murray's passing really catching the eye.
The subs rolled on during a second half in which a lively cameo show from Adam Smith caught the eye, as did the contribution of returning Stag Anthony Howell.
Mansfield began the game with six new faces alongside five from last season.
Of those, five of them had signed with former Northampton, Bristol Rovers and Oxford left back Chris Carruthers on trial in the back four.
Stags went 4-3-3 with Dyer and Briscoe either side of Connor up front.
The Mansfield bench included former Everton Welsh U231 international left back Nathan Craig and ex-England youth right back Rhema Obed, released by Arsenal, who both had little chance to show their talents in the final 15 minutes when they came on.
Naylor did well to slide in and concede a corner after an early home break down the right, cutting out Armson's low cross.
Marriott then failed to hold their first corner, conceding another, which was cleared.
It took Lee Stevenson, scorer of 35 goals for Eastwood last season, just six minutes to register his first Mansfield goal.
Carruthers chipped in a cross from the left and Stevenson showed great technique in steering in home as it dropped with a left footed volley.
However, four minutes later Naylor cut a miserable figure on 10 minutes as he limped off with an early hamstring tweak, Matt Bell taking over.
And, before the new back four, could get organised Nuneaton were level from a free kick conceded 20 yards from goal by Worthington.
Armson floated the ball across and Hadland went in bravely with a powerful diving header that beat the dive of Marriott on 14 minutes.
More dithering defending from Stags saw Glover skip clear of the offside trap down the right and go past the advancing Marriott.
But, with a poor angle to goal, he tried to square to Armson in front of the empty net and Sutton slid in to block before Armson fired his second chance wide of the near post.
Stags' best move of the game on 28 minutes saw a succession of quick passes culminate in Briscoe going past Albrighton and shooting low and wide of the far post.
But, for all their impressive play in possession, Mansfield were still looking vulnerable at the back and Armson guided a header just wide from Smith's right wing cross.
And on 32 minutes the home side were ahead as another slip at the back by Bell saw Smith left with only Marriott to beat, just poking the ball past him as the keeper tried to smother.
A swift home move down the right saw Hadland get in behind Carruthers to the by-line and pull a low ball back towards Glover whose finish was deflected wide for a corner by the block of Worthington
Moore replacing Smith for the home side was surprisingly the only half-time change, and Stags were almost level immediately as Dyer crashed a powerful header narrowly wide of the near post as Briscoe whipped in a free kick from the right.
Stags made six changes on 58 minutes and one of the subs, Adam Smith sent a looping header over from O'Neill's cross soon after joining the action.
But Glover twice came close to sealing the win in as many minutes, acrobatically reaching a long cross at full stretch at the far post but unable to turn it home, and then forcing Redmond's first save in a Stags shirt with a 20 yard attempt towards the top corner.
There were shouts for a penalty when Dyer went down under the challenge of Belcher in the box but play continued.
Redmond made another vital stop, getting down to his right to parry Albrighton's low shot after a left wing cross was half-cleared.
It was all Mansfield in the last 15 minutes and Howell almost grabbed an equaliser for Stags six minutes from time as he got a firm header onto Todd's cross but the wrong side of the post.
Mitchley also headed wide from a corner on 88 minutes. And a minute later, as Stags pressed hard, Todd got his head onto a deflected Howell cross but saw keeper Alcock make a great reaction save from close range.
NUNEATON: Alcock, Hadland (Taylor 83), James (Gudger 69), Noon (Belcher 69), Dean, Albrighton, L. Smith (Moore ht), Lavery (Walker 57), Glover, Armson (Manship 78), Burns (Whittaker 78).
STAGS: Marriott (Redmond 58), O'Neil (Obed 78), Carruthers, Murray, Sutton, Naylor (Bell 11, Craig 78), Worthington (Todd 58), Stevenson (Howell 58), Connor (Meikle 58), Briscoe (A. Smith 58), Dyer (Mitchley 79).
REFEREE: Grant Taylor
Stags pay a heavy price at the back
PAUL Cox always insisted he wanted a stern test to mark his first game in charge of Mansfield Town, but perhaps got even more than he had bargained for at Nuneaton last night.
In the build up to the trip to Warwickshire, the Stags boss stressed the result did not matter; that he wanted 'holes to be picked' in his team.
Having said that, he might not have envisaged how much his side would be exposed defensively – and that his troops would end up losing come full-time.
There were plenty of positives for Mansfield to build on, no doubt. They played some slick football at times and showed a great deal of attacking intent.
At the other end, though, the familiar problems of last season remained and, on this evidence, will need considerable work before the campaign kicks off on August 13.
Of course, it's important to remember that it was by no means a first-choice rearguard. Rhys Day is still coming back from injury, Tom Naylor was forced off after only six minutes with an apparent hamstring problem and defensive shield Paul Bolland was unavailable with a shoulder problem.
The fact it was the first time many of the players had taken the field together in a competitive game should also be taken into account.
Nevertheless, Cox and assistant Micky Moore will have been disappointed with the manner in which Mansfield conceded the goals they did.
Certainly, the expected signing today of a central defender with Championship experience will be a timely boost in the bid to improve things at the back.
The Stags were employed in a 4-3-3 formation, with only five players who featured in the side last season starting.
It was Nuneaton who threatened first as James Armson beat the offside trap through the right channel, only to have his low cross well intercepted by Naylor.
But Mansfield drew first blood – and it was no surprise to see who was the goalscorer.
Having netted 35 times last season for Eastwood, Lee Stevenson was in the right place at the right time to volley home a pinpoint sixth minute cross from trialist Chris Carruthers – who enjoyed a steady debut – to find the right-hand corner from 12 yards.
Soon after, Naylor trudged off and there was a further setback for the Stags when Nuneaton drew level with 14 minutes gone.
A right-wing free-kick was whipped in from the right by Armson and Guy Hadland took advantage of poor marking to head beyond Alan Marriott.
Louis Briscoe might have scored when he slipped past Mark Albrighton and into the box, only to fire wide of the right-hand post.
And the Stags were made to pay in the 32nd minute when a mix-up in the Mansfield defence let in Lee Smith, who slipped the ball coolly under the advancing Marriott.
The home side almost made it 3-1 on the stroke of half-time when Hadland got in behind Carruthers and pulled the ball back for Danny Glover, whose on-target effort was blocked by Jon Worthington.
As the second period began, Briscoe swung over a free-kick that was headed inches wide by Ross Dyer.
Luke O'Neill then whipped in a cross for Adam Smith whose header looped over the top, while Dyer was denied a penalty.
Mansfield rang the changes just before the hour with five new faces introduced.
But it was Nuneaton who continued to pose problems as Glover twice went close, while Albrighton was denied by sub keeper Shane Redmond.
There were sights of goal at the other end, most notably when Anthony Howell headed inches wide and Danny Alcock saved brilliantly from Andy Todd late on.
But it was not enough to prevent a loss – and disappointed Mansfield faces all round.
Nuneaton: Alcock, Hadland (Taylor 73), James (Gudger 69), Noon (Belcher 69), Dean, Albrighton, Smith (Moore 46), Lavery (Walker 57), Glover, Armson (Manship 78) Burns (Whittaker 78). Subs not used: Hinton.
Mansfield: Marriott (Redmond 58), O' Neill (Obed 78), Sutton, Naylor (Bell 11; Craig 78) Carruthers, Worthington (Smith 58), Murray, Stevenson (Howell 58), Dyer (Mitchley 79), Connor (Todd 58), Briscoe (Meikle 58).
New signing gives Boro win
Nuneaton Town 2
Mansfield Town 1
NUNEATON Town's pre-season had a promising start as they beat Blue Square Bet Premier side Mansfield Town 2-1 last night.
Boro fell behind after six minutes to a Lee Stevenson goal but they won the match with first half strikes from Guy Hadland and new signing Lee Smith.
Departing midfielder Kyle Storer was at the game. His move to Kidderminster Harriers is still on course to go through, but is yet to be rubber stamped.
Right-back Graham Ward was also there despite having knee surgery the day before. He hopes to be fit in time for the start of the season despite being told he could be out for up to two months.
Boro lined up with a 4-5-1 formation. Central defender Hadland played right-back and there was a trialist at left-back in Northampton based Aaron James.
New signings Mark Albrighton, Smith and Danny Glover all started, with James Armson and the still unsigned Robbie Burns playing off lone striker Glover.
Smith and Glover caught the eye in the first half, while Armson and Burns also showed some good touches.
The game was tighter after the break but on balance, the very early signs for Boro are ones of promise for the season ahead.
Trialists starting on the bench included former Hyde midfielder Tom Manship and Craig Hinton, 33, the ex-Northampton Town defender who ended last season as assistant manager at Bristol Rovers.
Mansfield took the lead in the sixth minute when Chris Carruthers' cross was acrobatically volleyed in by former Eastwood forward Lee Stevenson.
Boro kept calm though and were level on 14 minutes as Armson, charged with taking set pieces in place of Storer, whipped in a good ball for Hadland to head home.
Nuneaton had the lead in the 32nd minute as Ritchie Sutton and Matt Bell failed to deal with a long ball and Smith capitalised with a good finish from eight yards.
The second half had fewer chances but Glover continued to look impressive as he saw one effort flash wide and another saved by substitute keeper Shane Redmond. Albrighton had a shot well saved, before at the other end Anthony Howell headed just wide.
Danny Alcock made a wonder save with two minutes to go as he kept out a header from Andy Todd.
GOALS: Boro – Hadland (14), Smith (32) Stags – Stevenson (6)
BORO: Alcock; Hadland (Taylor 83), Dean, Albrighton, James (Gudger 68), Smith (Moore 46), Lavery (Walker 57), Noon © (Belcher 68), Burns (Manship 73), Armson (Whittaker 73), Glover; Subs not used: Whittaker, Hinton
STAGS: Marriot (Redmond 58), O'Neill (Craig 73), Carruthers, Sutton, Naylor (Bell 11, Obed 73), Worthington (Smith 58), Stevenson (Howell 58), Connor (Meikle 58), Briscoe (Todd 58), Dyer (Mitchley 74); Subs not used: None
REFEREE: Grant Taylor
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