It took an 85th minute goal from Adam Armstrong to finally kill off plucky Mansfield Town as Championship side Blackburn Rovers won 3-1 in tonight’s pre-season friendly at the One Call Stadium.
Rovers led through a 10th minute Tyler Magloire goal at the end of a first half in which Conrad Logan made two vital saves.
But, after making seven changes, Stags took the game to Rovers after the break and, despite going 2-0 down after a rare Krystian Pearce mistake, Pearce pulled one back straight away.
Then Rovers keeper Andy Fisher made some excellent saves while Otis Khan also hit a post as an equaliser proved elusive before Armstrong’s killer late blow.
It had proved an excellent work-out with the only worry seeing midfielder Willem Tomlinson come off injured.
Stags ran the rule over three trialists, one starting the game and the other two coming on at the break.
The early minutes were all played out in the Rovers half with Fisher twice leaving his area to clear through balls.
But Rovers swept ahead on 10 minutes. A free kick was worked to Butterworth and, from the right by-line, he drilled in a powerful low cross that Magloire beat Preston to and guided home.
Seconds later a great burst of pace from Butterworth saw him get into the box only to see his low goal-bound shot deflect wide.
On 14 minutes Stags’ first goal attempt was sent well over by Mellis.
Five minutes later great inter-play between Cook and Maynard got the ball into the box and, from a Hamilton cross, Maynard was able to cue up a shot for MacDonald that Rankin-Costello did well to get in the way of.
On 26 minutes a swift counter-attack by the visitors ended with Brereton forcing Logan to block a low shot with his legs from Butterworth’s pass.
Rothwell’s through ball then sent Brereton towards goal again, but he was superbly marshalled and stopped by Pearce.
Logan again came to Mansfield’s rescue with a save to deny Buckley on 33 minutes after a neat Rovers move.
Bishop poked a low, hopeful effort well wide soon after.
MacDonald’s persistence won a free kick near the right corner flag on 39 minutes, which Mellis sent over towards Cook, who saw the ball fly wide off his chest from five yards.
Two minutes from half-time trialist A cut in from the left with a fine touch, but then horribly sliced his finish for a throw-in.
He suffered more misery in added time as he was smashed into touch by a lunging Travis challenge that saw the Rovers man booked.
Stags have made seven changes at the break with White, Benning, Khan, Tomlinson, Rose and two trialists on in place of Bishop, MacDonald, Mellis, Maynard, Cook, Hamilton and Trialist A.
But, with the rain intensifying, disaster struck on 52 minutes as Pearce’s attempted clearance in the 6 yard box struck Buckley at close range and fell nicely for the Rovers man to tap into the empty net.
Pearce made immediate amends though as he pulled one back a minute later.
He was 12 yards out when a corner was half-cleared to him and let fly a thunderous right-footed rocket into the net.
On 57 minutes it was almost all square as Fisher got across to tip away a curling Khan free kick with Pearce heading just wide from the corner. Smallwood was booked for bringing down Khan to give the initial free kick away.
On the hour Trialist C set up Rose from 25 yards and Fisher made a superb one-handed save to deny him.
As the home side rose in confidence, Trialist B then sent a low shot wide.
Sweeney was fortunate on 70 minutes when the referee blew for a foul against Blackburn as the defender’s attempted headed clearance looped off the top of his head into his own net over a stranded Logan.
Mansfield’s defensive wall twice got in the way of fierce attempts by ex-Middlesbrough star and sub Downing from a 20-yard free kick and his follow-up.
Stags won another free kick 22 yards out on 75 minutes and this time Khan curled it against the post.
Interval sub Tomlinson had needed treatment after being hurt making a brave block-tackle. He had soldiered on but came off in some pain on 76 minutes to be replaced by Sterling-James.
There was another worrying stoppage as Rose was treated for his customary bang on the head.
On the restart Pearce got on the end of the free kick only to see Fisher acrobatically turn it aside.
Mansfield had made a superb fist of the second half but were killed off by a superb Championship-standard move that split open the home defence, Armstrong waltzing clear to go round and a helpless Logan and slot home from Travis’ killer final pass on 85 minutes
It might have been four as Butterworth raced past several opponents in a diagonal crossfield run only to fire over in the end.
STAGS: Logan (Stone 79); Preston (Smith 79), Pearce, Sweeney (Gibbens 79); Trialist A (White HT), MacDonald (Tomlinson HT, Sterling-James 76), Bishop (Trialist B HT), Hamilton (Benning HT); Mellis (Khan HT); Maynard (Rose HT), Cook (Trialist C). Sub not used: Clarke.
BLACKBURN: Fisher, Rankin-Costello, Magloire, Grayson, Hart, Smallwood (Downing 64), Travis, Buckley, Rothwell (Armstrong 64), Butterworth, Brereton. Subs not used: Leutwiler, Lenihan, Mulgrew, Johnson, Dack. REFEREE: John Brooks of Leicestershire.
ATTENDANCE: 1,701 (247 away).
CHAD STAGS MAN OF THE MATCH: Krystian Pearce.