DUTCH striker Patrick Samba’s strike 11 minutes from time made sure neighbours Rainworth MW didn’t take Mansfield Town’s scalp in the first pre-season friendly at Kirkington Road on Saturday afternoon.
The former Stafford Rangers man, one of nine trialists in the starting line-up, pounced when keeper Joe McCormack could only parry a Blake Vincent blast to give the big Stags contingent in the crowd something to cheer.
After a hard morning’s training, the first team were given the afternoon off and the game used to have a look at the trialists plus some youth earn prospects.
The first half was a poor affair with Rainworth wasting two good chances and, after the break, it was the home side who created the majority of openings and went ahead on 66 minutes through James Forbes.
However, they couldn’t hold onto it, though did have a couple of openings after Samba’s leveller to snatch a win near the end of an afternoon they will feel very happy with.
Stags’ last game having been at Wembley Stadium, their return to action could hardly have been more contrasting in the homely surroundings of Kirklington Road.
With, with a family fun day going on alongside the pitch in the warm summer sunshine, it was a perfect way to return to football on Saturdays after what seemed the shortest close season ever.
Stags began the game with nine trialists along with FA Trophy semi-final goalscoring hero Danny Mitchley, who had been told he could move on at the end of last season, and Neil Collett in goal, who has just signed a one-year deal to be the club’s third choice keeper for the season.
However, a lively show from Mitchley caught the eye and he could yet force his way back into the plans of manager Paul Cox, who was at a wedding, leaving assistant Micky Moore in charge.
“The game gave us an opportunity to look over the trialists and take stock of that,” said Moore.
“I will digest what I have seen over the next 24 hours and then write up a report for the gaffer and he can make the decisions on Monday.
“It is too early to say if any of the trialists will get another chance but I thought Danny Mitchley did really well and he was the one who stood out for me.
The Wrens began with five of last season’s first teamers and included ex-Stags striker Craig Mitchell.
Kick-off was delayed to allow the queues at the turnstile to get into the ground.
When we did get started, Stags almost scored inside five minutes as Samba whistled a half-volley wide from Mitchley’s chest-down.
Then Joueguel saw his finish cleared off the line by Fearon from Jackson’s flick while McCormack was safely behind Bennett’s low bobbling shot.
On 32 minutes Rainworth had their best chance so far as Beardsley was almost caught in possession, recovered but then sent a short backpass towards Collett which Simpson matched onto but then saw the keeper stretch out a leg to intercept his finish.
Joueguel headed a far post Jackson corner into the sidenetting and minutes later Lamplough blazed a free kick well over.
Joueguel came close again on 39 minutes as Mitchley’s low cross from the left found him in front of goal and he turned well and got the ball on target only to see McCormack block with his knees and the half end goalless.
Stags only made one change at the break with Whickham on for Jackson while the Wrens replaced five of their side.
In the first minute of the second half Beardsley was only just over with a free kick.
But a minute later, from a break down the right, Mitchell somehow failed to connect with a low cross right in front of goal with only Collett to beat.
Then, when Fearon seemed to get a slight touch onto a cross from the left, Collett did well to readjust to turn the looping ball over.
Samba wasn’t far wide with a fierce 20 yard shot after McCormack did well to punch away a corner at full stretch.
McCormack was also down well to block a low Mitchley shot as the substitutions flowed on a regular basis.
But the home side were ahead on 66 as two of the subs combined.
Wood raced down the right and crossed for Forbes to bundle home on the volley from 15 yards.
Cooksey might have doubled that a minute later but lifted his finish over the near angle. Then Gee-Pemberton had another close range effort blocked.
However, Stags were level 11 minutes from time. Youngster Vincent got away a vicious on-target half-volley from the left of the box which McCormack did well to save. But he was never going to be able to hold it as well and Samba was on hand to turn the loose ball home from close range.
Gee-Pemberton might have snatched a winner but was wide of the far post from a great position, while Wood saw sub keeper Medley turned a speculative wood shot wide as it ended honours even.
RAINWORTH MW: McCormack, Paling, Goodacre, Fearon, Kennedy, Hanson, Cooksey, Ward, Simpson, Mitchell, Jones. Subs: West, Gee-Pemberton, Briggs, Wood, Fanfarillo, Forbes, McIntosh.
STAGS: Collett, Beardsley, Wilde, Bennett, Liburd, Redei, Joueguel, Lamplough, Samba, Mitchley, Jackson. Subs: Branson, Lynk, Vincent, Shaw, Whickham, Stirling, Medley.
REFEREE: Ian Dudley of Mansfield.