Stags quartet press their claims at Trinity

Gainsborough Trinity FC v Mansfield Town FC
Gainsborough Trinity FC v Mansfield Town FC

While the squad in Matlock bagged four goals watched on by Steve Evans and Paul Raynor – the other half of the squad kept up with their team mates, putting four past non-League Gainsborough Trinity.

The Stags squad were skippered by Krystian Pearce and managed by Mike Whitlow and Richard Cooper – with all players getting the full 90 minutes and many giving Cooper and Whitlow plenty to report back on.

All in all this was a good run out from a strong Mansfield side – in particular Conrad Logan, Joel Byrom, Alfie Potter and CJ Hamilton staking a claim for a starting place at Crewe.

Lining up in a flat, traditional 4-4-2 formation, both sides started with the pace and intensity of a League encounter.

Just a minute in, good movement from Potter on the right hand side of midfielder picked out Omari Sterling-James, only for the hosts to clear and counter – captain Pearce sweeping in well to snuff out the danger.

Logan then produced a fine stop two minutes later. Johnny Hunt was beaten by his marker at left back and, as the hosts drilled in a low testing cross, none of the Stags players picked out the onrushing Trinity front man, who was denied by a fine save from Logan.

On six minutes, though, the Stags found the opening goal.

Joel Byrom’s quick thinking from a dead ball, saw Mansfield play a quick free kick – Byrom’s crisp pass picked out Sterling-James to the right of the area who stopped, turned his man and curled beyond the home keeper.

It should have been two on 14 minutes after some fluid cross-park football, Potter’s driving run towards the edge of the Trinity area created space for an advancing Rhys Bennett and a neat one-two saw a testing Potter cross scrambled clear.

Gainsborough enjoyed a successful period with the ball and should have pulled themselves level on 20 minutes as Mansfield’s defence switched off from a corner, fortunately for the visitors, the unmarked Trinity man at the far post could only fire up and over the bar.

Rhys Bennett pulled the strings on 29 minutes, intercepting well on the halfway line and driving his side forward, he found Potter on the overlap, who in turn picked out CJ Hamilton with a nice cut back.

Hamilton’s lofted cross found its way to Jimmy Spencer, who was unfortunate to see his left footed effort fly up and over the bar.

Joel Byrom tested the water with a tasty delivery on 33 minutes which the home keeper had to push away as the Stags looked for a second.

They waited just five more minutes before Jimmy Spencer controlled a directional ball from the back.

The former Plymouth man picked out CJ Hamilton who did the rest with a little help from the near post.

Bryom came close to adding a third on the stroke of half-time but his 30-yard effort was always rising.

Mansfield didn’t rest with a two-goal lead. Spencer saw two early efforts go astray before Jack Thomas pulled the trigger in a rush of blood following strong work again from Potter on the right touch-line – Spencer had made a fine run to find space and lose his marker.

It was then cometh the hour cometh the third goal, Potter the creator as he weaved a way forwards before slotting in Hamilton, his shot from a narrowing angle as his movement took him away from goal, snook beyond the keeper and nestled into the net.

Six minutes later the Gainsborough keeper pulled off two fine saves in quick succession as a hungry Mansfield looked for a fourth.

The Trinity glovesman first palmed away a swerving bullet from Sterling-James, before Potter danced through from the second phase of play, his effort from the left hand side of the box stinging the keeper’s hands before the hosts cleared.

A momentary lapse allowed Gainsborough in on 70 minutes but the home striker couldn’t keep his shot down, while two minutes later, a perfectly weighted deep clipped central pass from Thomas put Sterling-James free into the box.

He curled wide after cutting back onto his right footed, an opportunity he really should have buried.

Five minutes later Potter got the goal he deserved. Picking the ball up on the bye-line, Potter showed quick feet and fluid movement to take the ball beyond three players and get into a shooting position to the right of the box.

He took one look up before stroking the ball firmly underneath the keeper – a fitting goal in a fine display from Potter.

Hamilton came close to sealing a hat-trick with two minutes to go following good work from Potter and Sterling-James but at the death it was Logan taking the plaudits – rushing off his line to deny an onrushing Trinity player who had caught the Stags flat-footed.

STAGS: (4-4-2) - Conrad Logan, Rhys Bennett Kyrstian Pearce, George Taft Johnny Hunt, Alfie Potter Joel Byrom Jack Thomas CJ Hamilton, Jimmy Spencer Omari Sterling James. Subs not used: Hakeem, Collins, Harrison.