MANSFIELD were reduced by injury and illness to send a youth side to Rainworth to fulfil what was expected to be a first team fixture, but the Stags youngsters gave a good account of themselves although losing 3-0 to the more experienced Wrens.
Despite the initial disappointment at the strength of the side Mansfield were able to send, several Stags fans still turned up to boost the crowd to 255, and they will have been pleased by what they saw.
Some of the passing and movement by the young visitors kept the hosts on their toes, but in the end Rainworth had just too much guile to succumb to the youthful exuberance of the fledgling Mansfield side.
The closest the Stags came to a goal was in the sixth minute when Nuha Jabbi’s astute through pass sent livewire Jordan Vilums cutting in from the left to beat home keeper Joe McCormack all ends up from 20 yards, only to see his crisp drive come back off the foot of the post.
That, though, was as good as it got for the visitors in front of goal, and once Rainworth had grabbed a 15th minute lead they began to exercise a degree of authority.
The goal came from ex-Stag Danny Bacon, who was unable to buy a goal last season despite some impressive displays, but chose this match against his former club to break his duck for the Wrens.
Another ex-Stags youngster Ryan Goward doubled the Wrens’ lead seven minutes into the second half, tapping home at close range following Kieran Walker’s long throw in.
And any hope the plucky Stags had of a late recovery evaporated four minutes from time when, after another long throw, Barry Payne registered his first goal for Rainworth, lashing home in style.
Mansfield, whose numberless shirts made identification difficult, did create a few half-chances of their own, in particular Adam Somes, who spent a short spell on loan at Rainworth last season, just failed to control Vilums’ neat chip over the defence just after the half-hour with only McCormack to beat.
MEN OF THE MATCH: Rainworth - Callum Lloyd; Stags - Jordan Vilums.