Alfreton Town 3 v 0 Mansfield Town, Saturday 25th July

TAME Stags suffered their first pre-season defeat after they were thumped 3-0 by local rivals Alfreton Town at the Impact Arena on Saturday.

Mansfield, who had earned a superb 0-0 draw with Championship side Leicester City in midweek, failed to get into their stride as they were outfought and outplayed by the confident Blue Square North club.

Holdsworth demands more passion after Stags thumped

Josh Law capped a fine performance with a 17th minute strike, before Ian Ross scored on 43 minutes and Damien Reeves on 63 minutes to secure victory for impressive Alfreton.

It could have been so different if the normally prolific Daryl Clare had converted a one-on-one chance just two minutes before Alfreton doubled their lead on the stroke of half-time.

But While Alfreton will be given new confidence as they aim to go one step better than last season and gain promotion to the Conference, the hammering will give Stags a big wake-up call.

In truth there only ever looked to be one winner as Alfreton continuously pushed toothless Stags back into their half in a tide of one-way traffic.

Stags boss David Holdsworth had named an experimental team from the creditable 0-0 draw with Leicester City and gave starts to Tim Sandercombe in goal along with Ben Timer, Tom Naylor, and Ben Algar.

Influential first-teamers Gary Silk, Ryan Williams and Daryl Clare all earned starting places, while trialist Karim Ibrahim (18) and youth player Nick Langford were named on the bench.

Promotion-chasing Alfreton named a strong starting eleven which boasted the fire-power of star strikers Paul Clayton and Liam Hearn.

The Reds started well and called Sandercombe into action early when he was forced to tip a glancing McFadzean header around the post.

The Blue Square North side continued to grow in confidence and Ian Ross fired another warning shot on 13 minutes after he cut inside with purpose from the left wing, before unleashing his shot well wide of the Sandercome goal.

Minutes later the lively Liam Hearn, who was capped by England C last season, also went close as he fired a well hit shot two yards wide from distance.

It was a superb start for the home side as they bossed the midfield and persistently pegged struggling Mansfield back into their defensive third.

And the pressure finally told when Josh Law was played in on goal on 17 minutes by Liam Hearn after a neat passing move down the right wing.

Law calmly picked his spot and side-footed home into the bottom left corner to the delight of the Impact Arena faithful.

Alfreton kept up the one-way traffic and went close again on 21 minutes when Anthony Howell narrowly powered a header over the bar from a Dominic Roma cross.

Stags began to come back into the game and Daryl Clare nearly latched onto to a superb inswinging cross by Ryan Williams on 34 minutes as Mansfield broke at pace.

The normally prolific Clare should have equalised on 37 minutes when he found himself one on one with Dootson after Law made a hash of his clearance, but he could only fire straight at the keeper.

And Stags were made to pay for that sloppy finish just two minutes later when Reds midfielder Ian Ross latched on to the ball and confidently fired home from 14 yards to give the Alfreton a fully deserve two goal lead.

It was nearly three for dominant Alfreton on 42 minutes when Paul Clayton, the Reds top goal-scorer last season, failed to fully connect with an inswinging Ian Ross corner.

The Reds began the second-half where they had finished the first and put Stags under early pressure with a succession of corners and deep crosses from open play.

Liam Hearn nearly found himself clean through after a defence-splitting pass by the roaming Josh Law, but Mansfield were saved by a dubious offside flag.

Dominic Roma then warmed the hands of Sandercombe with a rasping 30 yard minute thunderbolt on 55 minutes after the powerful Liam Hearn shrugged off his markers and laid the ball off.

Toothless Mansfield were finally killed off on 63 minutes when substitute Damien Reeves nodded home a Howell cross from just yards out after he rose well to beat his marker.

It was nothing more than the superb Reds deserved for their determined display against their more illustrious neighbours, who failed to impose themselves on the friendly.

Ibrahim registered Stags first shot of the second half with a tame 20 yard drive which failed to trouble Dootson in the Alfreton goal.

But there was no hope of a miracle comeback as Stags failed to create any more chances to get back into the game and rob Alfreton of their deserved win.

MANSFIELD TOWN: Sandercombe; Silk, Turner, Jones, Naylor, D'Laryea (Ibrahim 70mins), Somner, Williams (Speight 57mins), Algar (Langford 45mins), Clare (Istead 57mins), Bradley (Ryan 80mins).

ALFRETON TOWN: Dootson, Roma, McFadzean, Wilson, Flint, Ross, Law (Hall 57mins), Brown (Burke 61mins), Clayton (Reeves 60mins), Hearn, Howell (Bowler 66mins).


Do you want to get the latest Stags headlines sent straight to your email inbox every morning? Then click here to subscribe.

Click here for all the latest Stags news

Click here for our new Stags fans blog by Craig Priest

Click here for sports editor John Lomas' latest blog

Listen to the latest edition of our podcast StagsTalk, click here