MANSFIELD Town continued their unbeaten pre-season by coming from behind to produce an eye-catching 2-1 victory over Championship neighbours Derby County at the One Call Stadium tonight.
Theo Robinson had finally become the first player to pierce the Stags rearguard in the fifth friendly of Mansfield’s summer when he tucked away a 34th minute penalty in an even first half in which Derby just had the edge.
But, with the Rans changing their whole XI for the second half, it was the home side who had the best of it and won the night with two goals in six minutes.
Matt Green, last season’s 30-goal hero levelled matters on 52 minutes before a superb piece of solo skill from England C international Lindon Meikle provided what proved to be the winner.
Stags began the night with a 4-3-3 line-up with Stevenson, fit again after his nasty knock at Gainsborough on Friday, playing in his favoured position just behind the strikers.
The Rams brought a full squad, mixing up youth and experience into two 11s.
Third choice keeper, former Notts County man Saul Deeney, was back from a long injury between the posts with two keepers above him in the pecking order injured.
Ex-Stag Tom Naylor began the game with former Mansfield captain Jake Buxton playing the second half.
Derby also paraded Swiss trialist Gjokaj.
Robinson cued up Davies for a well-struck 20 yard effort in the opening seconds that wasn’t too far wide.
Jones nodded comfortably wide from a long Owens free kick as Stags went into the Derby half for the first time.
Pilkington then spread a high ball wide to Owens, who controlled on his chest before bursting between two opponents and rifling over.
Dyer’s pass then sent Green on a run which ended with a low shot wide as Stags made a confident start.
A neat Rams move down the centre ended with Robinson turning and lashing a quickly-taken shot over the bar.
On 16 minutes Ward wasn’t far over from a similar distance.
Marriott came to Stags’ rescue on 23 minutes as Ward slipped the ball through a square Stags defence to Robinson, who was onside only to see Marriott block his finish.
Stags responded with low shots from Dyer and, even closer Stevenson, but both passed wide.
Ward and Robinson combined again to wreak more havoc on 28 minutes as Ward’s dummy let the ball run through his legs to released Robinson who should have hit the target but fired low and wide.
Clements cut out a poor pass from Gjokaj and tried to send Green away, Deeney out his box quickly to get there first.
Stags finally shipped their first goal in pre-season after 34 minutes.
Jacobs was twisting and turning as he ran at Beevers, who stuck out a leg and left him on the turf.
Robinson, cool as a cucumber, sent Marriott the wrong way to pass a low finish into the bottom left corner.
Stags hit back with a good spell of pressure and three corners. From the last of these Jones got in a goalbound header which Hendrick cleared off the line.
Another corner saw Jacobs clear off the line and Jones put the follow-up into the net, but the effort disallowed after the referee spotted an infringement.
Pilkington also headed just wide as Mansfield ended the half impressively.
Stevenson had picked up a knock and limped off at the break and was replaced by Howell for the second half against a completely new Derby XI including local lad Mason Bennett.
Immediately Bennett beat Pilkington to a header which sent Tyson clear only for his touch to let him down.
Bolton trialist Caton went on a fine run down the left but took the ball into touch before he could cross.
Owens did well to grab possession and run into the box but skied his finish.
However, Stags were level on 52, Meikle sending Green on his way down the left. Green did ell to show some muscle to keep possession and beat Galinski to get in a shot which was blocked but rolled back to him, allowing him to sweep the ball into the net from close range.
Dyer, under pressure, sent a far post header wide as the home side began to step up the pressure.
Tyson wasn’t far wide in reply for the Rams.
But Stags were ahead on 58 minutes. Green was being fouled as he tried to get away from his marker, but the referee allowed play to continue as Meikle raced on into the box and, despite having three defenders around him, tricked his way into enough space to crash the ball high into the net from 12 yards.
Keeper Morch did well to drop at Green’s feet to stop him putting a finishing touch to Clements’ through ball.
Marriott had not had much to do this half but was well placed to keep our Bryson’s shot on the turn on 75 minutes. Then Hughes fired just over as Derby hunted for an equaliser.
But, despite making regular changes, Stags were comfortably in control and a spell of home possession saw every touch cheered by the home fans.
Just to crown the night for Stags’ success-starved fans, it was announced all hot food post-match was reduced to £1!
STAGS: Marriott, Beevers (Thompson 55), Pilkington, Jones, Owens (Sutton 78); Tolley, Clements (Roberts 76); Stevenson (Howell HT); Dyer, Green (Rhead 78), Meikle (Briscoe 75).
DERBY 1st half: Deeney, Naylor, Roberts, Hendrick, Gjokaj, Keogh, Doyle, Davies, Robinson, Ward, Jacobs. 2nd half: Brayford, Morch, Galinski,, Buxton, Jones, Coutts, Hughes, Bryson, Caton, Tyson, Bennett.
REFEREE: Andy Woolmer of Northampton.
ATTENDANCE: 2,596 (1,030).