New-look Mansfield Town delighted the One Call Stadium faithful with some attractive football and a 1-1 draw with Championship new boys Milton Keynes Dons in tonight’s first home friendly.
Both sides played easy-on-the-eye football, though some of the first half tackling was still full-blooded.
Stags boss Adam Murray said he wanted to concentrate on his side’s defending against a Dons side expected to dominate.
In the end Stags more than had their fair share of possession and even took the lead through another spectacular finish from Nathan Thomas just before the break.
But Daniel Powell levelled matters on 58 minutes after keeper Scott Shearer had blocked his initial effort.
Despite a string of changes, Mansfield – with an unnamed trialist central defensive substitute on the field after the break - continued to defend well against their illustrious opponents, who were reduced to long range shots, and Nathan Thomas even wasted a chance near the end to snatch a home win.
Stags created the first danger on seven minutes when Nathan Thomas made himself available with a rehearsed run into the box from a Clements corner from the left and chipped a cross to the far post that was just too high for Green to reach.
On 16 minutes, soon after an angry clash with McFadzean, an energised Green had the ball in the Dons’ net after racing onto a return pass from Clements and rounding Martin but adjudged offside.
On 18 minutes Milton Keynes threatened for the first time as Church beat the offside trap only to see his finish blocked by a great challenge from Collins.
Although the football was attractive to watch, there were some thunderous non pre-season tackles flying in and Kay was rightly booked on 33 minutes for diving in and catching Clements very late.
Chances had been sparse at either end though within a couple of minutes Lewington headed well over from a Dons corner, then Nathan Thomas curled a low 20-yard effort wide for Mansfield.
On 42 minutes Carruthers played a return pass to Spence, whose low finish ended up in the home sidenetting.
However, Stags were ahead in style in the 45th minute. Clements rescued Green’s overhit cross from the right and fed Nathan Thomas, who cut into the box on the left and curled a brilliant unstoppable finish under the far angle.
But Mansfield were almost caught admiring their work as seconds later Baker crossed from the right and Powell stole in to lift a great chance over the bar from 10 yards.
Shearer at last had a shot in anger to save on 57 minutes as he got down to block Baker’s low effort after Benning had initially given the ball away.
But the Dons were level a minute later as a through ball found Powell rampaging into the box on the right. Shearer blocked his first shot but he slotted the follow-up under the keeper.
The substitutions began on 65 minutes with Stags making three changes including an unnamed central defensive trialist.
As the subs flowed on and off, Shearer was always behind a bending Carruthers effort from distance and a stinging effort from Baker.
Seven minutes from time Jack Thomas wasted a decent chance as he hurried a first time finish well over as the ball rolled to him when he had more time than he thought to pick his spot and hit the target.
STAGS: Shearer, Benning (Conor Green 75), Pearce, Collins (trialist 65), Chapman (McGuire 75), Clements (Fitzpatrick 75), Matt Green (Beardsley 65), Westcarr (Lambe 65), Nathan Thomas (Dwyer 70) Hunt (Shires 88), Jack Thomas.
MK DONS: Martin, Lewington, McFadzean (Walsh 70), Kay, Baker, Potter (Bowditch 70), Reeves (Rasulo 81), Church (Jennings 81), Spence (Hodson 70), Carruthers, Powell.
REFEREE: Gary Sutton.