A rare gaff by keeper Alan Marriott after only 52 seconds saw Championship neighbours Nottingham Forest steal a 1-0 pre-season friendly win at Mansfield Town on a red-hot afternoon at the One Call Stadium.
Marriott failed to keep out Raddy Majewski’s speculative low shot at the start of a half in which Forest dominated possession, though Stags did have an effort ruled out for offside.
However, the Stags were much improved after the break, forcing the pace and making Forest keeper Karl Darlow produce two good saves while also hitting the bar.
Stags skipper and assistant boss Adam Murray said: “That was a good test for us.
“Playing Forest, we knew we wouldn’t have much of the ball, so today was all about working on our shape and fitness.
“The weather played a massive part too, making it twice as hard as it would have been anyway.
“But, once we had bedded in and stopped showing them too much respect, we gave a decent account of ourselves.
“It is early yet and players need to shake off their rustiness and switch their footballing brains back on.” He added: “Alan Marriott only makes a mistake like that once in a blue moon and it’s better getting it out the way in pre-season.”
Mansfield, and a red-faced Marriott in particular, made the worst possible start as Forest were gifted a lead just 52 seconds into the game on a sweltering afternoon.
Majewski latched onto a Riley header 30 yards from goal, stepped forward and rifled in a low, hopeful shot which Marriott allowed to sneak under his body.
Derbyshire tried his luck on the turn on eight minutes but got right under the ball and ballooned it into the Quarry Lane stand.
However, the Reds almost doubled their lead on 13 minutes as McLaughlin picked out the head of Derbyshire five yards from goal where the striker brought a smart save out of Marriott, partially atoning for his early clanger.
Derbyshire fired straight at Marriott from 25 yards in the Reds’ next goal attempt.
Then Majewski’s superb far post volley from a long Derbyshire cross from the right, took a slight deflection for the first of two Reds’ corners, which the home side defended well.
Rhead’s lay-off on 27 minutes saw Clucas almost sent Stevenson clear, keeper Darlow there first to clear.
But Stags were finally having a little more of the game and thought they had drawn level on 33 minutes.
Meikle had a shot blocked by Cohen, but the ball was laid straight to Stevenson, who slotted home, the celebrations cut short by a raised offside flag.
On 38 minutes Clucas and Rhead chested the ball neatly to each other in turn before Clucas launched a low volley past the far post for Mansfield’s first real goal effort of the contest.
Derbyshire, under pressure from Riley, blazed well over as we entered the final five minutes of the half.
Two minutes later McCombe was inches wide with an acrobatic overhead kick from a half-cleared Jennings free kick as the half ended with just Marriott’s error proving the difference.
Buoyed by four half-time changes, Tafazolli, Howell, Speight and Briscoe on for Riley, McGuire, Meikle and Stevenson, Stags made a superb start to the second half, causing more problems in four minutes than they had all game.
Speight was just wide with a low shot and then Howell headed over in the first minute.
And on 49 minutes Speight’s low shot forced Darlow to parry one-handed – Stags’ first on-target effort.
Marriott then had to get down at his near post to smother a powerful low Blackstock drive.
Cohen was well over for Forest, then Speight was high and wide from an almost impossible angle as the game continued to open up.
McLaughlin was allowed to continue a break down the left, despite seeming to control with his hand, only to drill a low ball across the face of goal.
Darlow had to make another good save to preserve Forest’s lead on 65 minutes. Jennings floated the ball in from the left and Clucas met it with a great header that Darlow had to throw himself to his right to reach.
That forced a corner which was cleared to Briscoe over 20 yards from goal, and he zipped back in a shot that Darlow never saw until it almost hit him in the throat and bounced away.
Clucas dragged two Forest defenders towards the right hand corner before swapping passes with Speight, who cued him up for a curling effort over the far top corner.
The stifling heat of the afternoon was now being overshadowed by a dark cloud and thunder and lightning in the distance.
Tafazolli nodded wide from a Jennings free kick as the home side continued to hunt for an equaliser.
And Briscoe came so close eight minutes from time as he met Dyer’s nod-down with a rising right side-footed finish that cannoned back off the bar.
Gnahore curled harmlessly over for Forest in a rare threat to the home goal.
A long free kick by Black from the left reached Tafazolli in the box, but the defender could not get over the ball, and it skimmed the top of his head and sailed wide.
STAGS: Marriott; Beevers, Riley (Tafazolli ht), McCombe (Dempster 57), Jennings (Black 75); Murray (Clements 71), Stevenson (Speight ht), McGuire (Howell ht); Clucas, Rhead (Dyer 57), Meikle (Arnold ht). Subs not used: Deakin, Sutton, Hutchinson.
FOREST: Darlow, Licaj, Fenton (Wallace 82), Paterson (Gnahore 71), Cohen (Kamaneno 64), Blackstock (Morgan 79), Derbyshire (Devine 69), McLaughlin (Tounkara 79), Greening, Halford, Majewski. Subs not used: Polimos, Evtimov.
REFEREE: Andrew Haines of Tyne & Wear.