Three gifted goals saw Mansfield Town condemned to a disappointing defeat at the hands of Boston United this afternoon.
Paul Cox, clearly frustrated by his team’s falterings, put the entire squad through a post match training session and gave them a public dressing down as the Conference champions fell to a 3-1 defeat.
Left back Paul Black gifted the Pilgrims two first half goals before lacklustre concentration handed the hosts a third shortly after the interval. Substitute Ben Hutchinson grabbed what proved to be a consolation late on as the Stags upped their game.
Mansfield were forced to play youth Tteam goalkeeper Harry Waldram as second choice Ian Deakin missed out through injury, but other than that it was a strong squad fielded by boss Cox, which perhaps justifiess his post match actions.
Stags enjoyed the best early chance on four minutes as an excellent driven run from Louis Briscoe saw the wide man hit the bar. However other than that Mansfield offered little and it was youngster Waldram who kept out several stray efforts from the hosts as his defence lacked concentration against a three pronged attack.
Waldram was then left hopelessly exposed on 19 minutes as the experienced Paul Black made a catastrophic error. Attempting to lay the ball back to a fellow defender, Black’s pass lacked pace and was picked up by Ben Milnes who made no mistake in lashing home the loose ball to open the scoring.
Six minutes later the young stags shotstopper had to be quick off his line to mop up a Pilgrims attack as Ricky Miller and Marc Newsham cantered through the absent midfield.
Mansfield then began to up their game as on 28 minutes, fluent movement between Stevenson and Briscoe saw the latter send Speight through on goal, unfortunately for the Stags hitman he curled narrowly over the top of the bar but with the keeper beaten.
Despite Mansfield growing in confidence it was disaster five minutes later as a Clements corner broke down and the hosts countered. Paul Black was pulled inside out by Ricky Miller who curled a beautiful effort into the top corner to double Boston’s lead.
On the stroke of half-time Stags were extremely fortunate not to concede a third as Newsham drilled low into the area, Ben Milnes was left free in the box and struck the post before Martin Riley removed the danger.
George Pilkington replaced Paul Black at the interval but, despite the change, Stags were again picking the ball out of the net on 48 minutes. Chris Clements gave away a free kick on the right hand side and Stags completly switched off as the hosts played the set peice short and quick, resulting in Milnes firing beneath Waldram from Milnes’ assist.
Mansfield tested the water as the game progressed as Jake Speight brushed the bar and defender George Pilkington saw a 30 yard drive saved low. However there were still visible gaps in midfield and Cox soon rang the changes on 70 minutes and trialists Jordan Ball, Eddie Gnorea and Brent McGrath were introduced.
Five minutes later the treble change paid off as Jordan Ball whipped in a low cross after the tough tackling Gnorea had won a corner. Ben Hutchinson, who was introduced before the hour for Meikle, tucked home from 14 yards to make it 3-1.
Eddie Gnorea, on the books of Birmingham City, was impressive in midfield with his tough tackling nature, but no matter how many strings the 19 year old midfielder pulled, Stags just couldn’t find another goal.
Fellow trialist Ball wasted the best chance at the death, firing over from Hutchinson’s corner.
At the full time whistle Cox instructed his players to stay on the pitch putting them through an intense running session which included a verbal dressing down, Stags now have one more friendly to put things right as they head for Gainsborough Trinity on Tuesday evening (7.30pm kick-off) before the season’s opener at Scunthorpe United.
Stags man of the match: Ben Hutchinson.
FULL TIME: Boston United 3 (Ben Milnes 19, 48 Ricky Miller 33) Mansfield Town 1 (Ben Hutchinson 76).
Referee: Declan Ford.
Attendance: 393 (est 55 from Mansfield).
Stags: Harry Waldram, Ritchie Sutton (C), Martin Riley, Ryan Tafazolli (Liam Marsden (68 mins), Paul Black (George Pilkington 45 mins), Louis Briscoe, Chris Clements (Jordan Ball 70 mins), Anthony Howell, Lindon Meikle (Ben Hutchinson 58 mins), Lee Stevenson (Eddie Gnorea 70 mins), Jake Speight (Brent McGrath 70 mins)
Not Used: Chris Spencer, Amari Morgan-Smith, Jason Gregory, Jack Thomas, Ben Birch, Trovarn Demar-Thompson, Jack Hawkins, Jordan Vilums, Jordan Fell (GK)