Mansfield Town had a useful friendly at Worksop Town on Saturday.
Adam Murray had set the game up in the expectation that Mansfield would be on the front foot, and they certainly created a glut of chances in the first half before finally scoring three times in the second half.
The Stags created 16 chances in the first half alone without finding the net in a catalogue of near misses, great saves, and one thunderous effort against the bar. It was an absolute onslaught.
In the second half, the Stags went ahead with a header from Lee Collins from a Kevan Hurst fine corner.
Collins has yet to score for the Stags in a competitive game, hopefully this will be the start of something.
The Stags made it 2-0 when Rhys Bennett did well on the byline on the right, and pulled back for Chris Clements who fired into the bottom corner of the net.
Surprisingly Worksop pulled a goal back when a ball across the area wasn’t dealt with. Mansfield scored a third, when young Zayn Hakeem scored from close range from another fine Kevan Hurst corner. Hakeem is highly thought of by Murray and I expect him to get some first team chances from the bench this season.
Plenty of positives for the Stags with just seven days until the league season gets underway.
Standing out at Worksop were Kevan Hurst with some excellent delivery on crosses, including corners, and a fine shot against the bar, and Rhys Bennett with some excellent play pushing forward.
It was pleasing to see Mal Benning back in the action after missing some games as a precaution through slight injury, and it looked like he hadn’t been away. Chris Clements showed plenty of nice touches, and a good finish for his goal, along with a determination to win the ball.
The defence was barely tested so it was hard to judge the new loan signing at centre half Kyle Howkins, though he certainly looks a big unit, but he did show some nimble footwork.
I would think that at least nine of the starting 11 at Worksop will start at Newport on Saturday. After a month of pre-season friendlies, I think we’re ready for the season to start now.
I think it’s always difficult to judge how a season will go from pre-season. Last season the team were in and around the play-offs for the first three-quarters of the season but then fell away because they weren’t quite strong enough.
Adam Murray has done a good job in the summer tweaking the squad to make it a bit better, and I think that a top half finish, pushing for the play-offs, is a realistic hope.