DESPITE illness and injury in the camp, Mansfield Town still made it seven pre-season games unbeaten and five clean sheets with tonight’s 3-0 win at Paul Cox’s old club Eastwood Town.
Lee Stevenson, also back at his old club, set them on their way with a 33rd minute header before Cameron Fearon put through his own goal a minute from half-time.
We then had to wait until the 89th minute before Nick Wright added the third.
The Northern Premier League Premier Division Badgers caused a few problems in a lively first half, which saw some tasty tackling.
But the second half belonged to Mansfield and, with Wright and a much-improved Louis Briscoe both failing to put away one-on-ones, Wright in the first half and Briscoe in the second, it could have been a bigger winning margin.
Stevenson clearly enjoyed his return to Coronation Park though fellow ex-Badger Ben Hutchinson had a quiet night in which little came off for him.
Boss Cox said: “That was a good 90 minutes for the boys who needed some game time under their belts.
“We kept another clean sheet and scored three goals so we have to be happy.
“Nick Wright will be pleased with his display. He set up the first goal, put in the cross for the own goal and then scored himself a good goal so it was a good night’s work for him.
“We didn’t want to call off our other game at Stourbridge tonight but we had a few knocks and illness so we told one or two to stay away.
“It’s all precautionary and nothing serious, but it’s all about the 11th August. I have to do what’s best for the club and the players.
“I will have to send the young professional and youth team to Rainworth tomorrow. I don’t want to be you have to be selfish. The season starts in just over a week and there are two games before then so we need to wrap one or two in cotton wool.”
The game began in a rain shower and Redmond was caught fractionally late by Ryan as the Badgers man chased a long ball forward down the Coronation Park slope in the opening seconds, but was fine to continue.
Fearon then sidefooted firmly wide from Hollis’ low ball in from the right after Eastwood’s first corner was defended.
But in the fifth minute Stevenson split the home defence with a great through pass for Wright to race onto, only to be denied by keeper Deakin’s save as he failed to lift the ball over him.
Pilkington headed wide from a Tolley corner before an excellent home break ended with Ryan firing straight at Redmond.
Nightingale was just too high from 20 yards, then at the other end Stevenson lofted in a high ball which Hutchinson met on the volley but steered wide.
When Deakin spilled a cross, Stevenson had a shot blocked before Tolley’s powerful follow-up was deflected just wide.
Players squared up on 16 minutes after a nasty tackle by Elliott on Stevenson after Ryan had been caught in the face as Dempster challenged.
Then Hand was lucky not to be spoken to for a lunge in which studs were showing three minutes later, Hanson curling the free kick well over.
A loose pass gifted the ball to Piliero who, from 25 yards, saw Redmond forward off his line and tried to lift it over him but didn’t get enough height.
Wright had a volley blocked right on the line on 21 minutes after a Briscoe corner was helped on.
Hand was in troubled again for swinging a leg late at Elliott, the referee lecturing him and then having a word with the away bench too.
Hollis forced Redmond to his right to clutch a 25 yard effort.
Stags drew first blood on 33 minutes. Wright let the ball run past him to turn his man superbly wide on the right and hoist in a peach of a cross which Stevenson met with an unstoppable header from six yards.
Soon after Briscoe picked out Stevenson for another header at the far post. But the cross was struck too firmly and Stevenson was unable to get it on target.
Hollis wasn’t far wide with a quick snapshot from the edge of the Stags box.
But the home side found themselves two adrift a minute from the break as Wright swung in another dangerous cross from the right which was intercepted by Fearon at the near post who could only watch on as the ball cannoned past his own keeper and into the net.
Poku took over from Hand and Thompson for Pilkington for the second half, and Stags had the first goal attempt as Beevers curled a hopeful effort over the far angle.
Thompson failed to head a Tolley corner on target with his first touch.
Tolley volleyed just wide from 20 yards on 55 minutes before a raft of subs with two changes for Stags and six for Eastwood.
On 63 minutes Briscoe swapped passes with Roberts to stroll into the box one-on-one with the keeper but lifted his deft finish wide.
A rare home danger saw Ryan send a low effort narrowly wide on the turn from the edge of the box.
A miscued Briscoe drive from 25 yards took a massive deflection off the leg of Howell which had the keeper wrong-footed and relieved to see it clear the angle.
Another good Stags attack saw Howell find Briscoe to his left who cut inside and fired a rising shot just over.
With seven minutes to go Redmond came for but failed to gather a home corner which saw Clements have to head off his goal line.
A minute from time Stags put the seal on the night as Wright came in from the left and let fly as a tackle from Smith came in, the ball taking a deflection off Smith’s leg and flying inside the far post.
EASTWOOD: Deakin, Fearon, Riley, Elliott, Graham, D. Meikle, Hollis, Hanson, Nightingale, Ryan, Pillero. Subs: Gregory, Troke, Simmons, Shaw, Bailey, Smith, Andrew.
STAGS: Redmond; Beevers (Todd 74), Pilkington (Thompson HT), Dempster, Sutton; Briscoe, Tolley (Roberts 60), Hand (Poku HT), Wright, Stevenson (Howell 60), Hutchinson. (Clements 60).
STAGS MAN OF THE MATCH: Nick Wright.