Stags draw 0-0 in Naxxar Lions’ den in opening friendly in Malta

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Mansfield Town return home from a highly successful week-long pre-season training camp (pictured) in Malta tomorrow, following a 0-0 draw at Naxxar Lions in their opening friendly on Saturday.

In front of around 300 Stags fans, Paul Cox’s men defended well on a 3G surface against a Lions side that has just been promoted into the Maltese Premier Division, but couldn’t find their scoring touch at the other end in what proved to be a highly competitive clash.

With Matt Green now departed and Ross Dyer (tight hamstring) and Jake Speight (did not travel) missing, Cox knows his mission to sign at least one new striker remains a massive priority.

Mansfield fielded almost a different XI in each half with only impressive centre half Ryan Tafazolli and full back Lee Beevers playing the full 90 minutes.

Cox said: “We came up against a really stubborn side. There were things we really need to improve on but I thought our fitness levels were really good and that’s what it is, it’s not really about results in pre-season, it’s about conditioning.

“We mixed the two sides up and it’s given me a look and it just shows you what we could do with bringing in, but I thought the lads worked hard and they’ve worked hard all week here.

“I was pleased with the following. It’s always nice when a number of people follow you. I hope they’ve enjoyed it. We couldn’t put the ball in the net. We looked a little bit rusty in the last third. But it’s 45 minutes for a lot of them.

“We’ve kept a clean sheet and if I’m going to be totally honest I can’t remember the opposition having a shot on target throughout the game. It was a small tight little pitch on a 3G surface that’s hard to play on, but it’s all about conditioning.”

Mansfield return home tomorrow and then head up to Worksop Town for their second friendly on Wednesday (7.30pm).

STAGS first half: Deakin; Beever, McCombe, Tafazolli, Black; Keiran Murtagh, Howell, Clements; Briscoe, Daniel, Hutchinson. Second half: Marriott; Beevers, Riley, Tafazolli, Jennings; Murray, Stevenson, McGuire; Meikle, Rhead, Clucas.