MANSFIELD Town claimed their second Championship scalp of the week with a fine 2-1 win over Nottingham Forest in a behind-closed-doors friendly at the One Call Stadium this afternoon.
The Stags, unbeaten in their six pre-season games so far, had seen off Derby County by the same score in midweek and today cut down the Forest with goals by Anthony Howell and Nick Wright.
In a strange atmosphere in an empty stadium bathed in sunshine, the sides produced a decent game with plenty of chances.
Howell opened the scoring four minutes into the second half from Ross Dyer’s flick.
Forest were level with a magnificent strike by Ismael Miller eight minutes later.
But Wright thundered home the winner on 63 minutes after a great ball from Jamie Hand had paved the way for him.
It is just a shame the supporters of both clubs could not have enjoyed the afternoon but it is believed, with so many police officers seconded to the Olympics, the police costs for this hastily-arranged game would have been prohibitive.
Instead the only row of seats full in the stadium was the one in the press box.
“I don’t want to be miserable but the result really doesn’t matter,” said Stags boss Paul Cox.
“It was more important that we got a good work-out and we certainly did.
“Forest had some excellent footballers on show and we kept our shape well and our fitness levels looked good.
“The players are starting to understand what is expected of them in and out of possession with this system.
“The result does breed confidence. But you can’t read anything into it. We just need to make sure we are ready for 11th August.”
George Pilkington and Jamie Tolley were rested after completing 90 minutes in midweek while injured pair Lee Stevenson and Jake Speight are expected back for Tuesday and next weekend respectively.
Mansfield produced some early menace without testing Camp.
But Dyer almost gifted Forest a sixth minute opener when his loose pass set Kuwaiti trialist Moussa on the run who forced Marriott to save low to his right.
Stags survived two Forest corners before forcing one of their own after Camp turned round a fierce Howell drive at his near post.
On 15 minutes Mansfield might have been ahead after a good run into the box by Meikle. His low shot cannoned back off the foot of the post, Green, under pressure, was unable to get a follow-up effort away, the ball rolling instead to Dyer who, six yards from goal, blazed high over the bar when he should have scored.
Roberts, who had already been warned for a lunging tackle on Reid, was booked on 25 minutes for hauling over Tudgay as the Reds tried to break.
Two minutes later Jones jumped well to head over from a Hand corner in an evenly-poised game.
Two more home corners followed and, following a low Meikle shot that bounced across the gaping goal, a third.
When Roberts brought down Reid on a Forest two on two break, the referee called Roberts and home skipper Thompson across to read the riot act.
Howell then did well to shrug off Reid before seeing his low shot deflect wide for yet another corner.
Three minutes later Dempster head over from another Mansfield corner.
Forest finally enjoyed a spell of their own as Moussi dragged a low shot wide and Moussa failed to catch a shot right and bundled it wide.
But on 44 minutes Marriott was back at his best, standing large to block Tudgay from close range as he got on the end of a superb chipped pass from Blackstock to crash a half-volley at goal.
A minute later Howell kicked at fresh air when he had a shooting chance as the ball came in from the left, but recovered to square for Jones whose rasping effort was tipped over by Camp to end a thoroughly entertaining first 45 minutes.
Clements took over from Roberts for the second half while Redmond was given 45 minutes in goal in place of Marriott in the only two Stags changes while Forest changed nine players.
Clements sent an early fee kick into the home wall.
But McGoldrick might have put Forest ahead directly from a long kick from the keeper which sent him clear, Redmond down well to block.
Instead it was Stags who grabbed the lead on 49 minutes through Howell.
A long ball forward was flicked on by Dyer to Howell to the right of goal in the six yard box and he dispatched a clinical half-volley past Darlo.
Dyer turned a Meikle cross into the sidenetting while Miller fired a low shot on the turn straight at Redmond.
However, on 57 minutes Miller did level the scored with an absolute pearler.
Given space 20 yards from goal he unleashed a venomous left foot shot into the top left corner, giving Redmond no chance.
A great pass from Hand over the top on 63 minutes then unlocked the Forest defence for the home side’s second goal.
It was perfectly weighted to drop in front of Wright whose first touch on his right foot was sublime and his second touch to smash it past a helpless Darlo unstoppable.
Miler got to the Mansfield by-line on 68 minutes and pulled an accurate ball back into the path of Bader who missed his kick at the vital moment.
Miller then curled a pass from right to left to an incoming McGoldrick whose low finish was wide of the post with Mansfield’s back line stretched.
On 74 minutes a good Stags move down the centre ended with Rhead’s rising blast being turned over by the third Forest keeper of the game, Al Rashid.
Sutton overlapped well down the left to reached Briscoe’s pass but his sidefooted finish was easy for the keeper.
Seven minutes from the end Mills poked a close range finish at the keeper after Forest struggled to clear a Clements free kick.
Another Miller shot on the turn from just outside the box was wide with a minute left as Mansfield took the spoils.
STAGS: Marriott (Redmond HT); Thompson, Dempster, Jones (Mills 63), Owens (Sutton 69); Howell (Poku 69), Roberts (Clements HT), Hand (Hutchinson 69); Dyer (Briscoe 61), Green (Rhead 61), Meikle (Wright 61).
FOREST 1st half: Camp; Halford, Freeman, Collins, Reid, Greening, Tudgay, Moussa, Blackstock, Maloney, Moussi. 2nd half: Darlo (Al Rashidi), Freeman, Collins, Lascelles, Guedioura, Bader, Miller, McGugan, McGoldrick, Bouzid, Derbyshire.