‘New faces, same old game’
After ending last season in such a heartbreaking manor, the wait for our next game seemed an eternity. The re-structure of the clubs playing squad & management staff during the close season kept us fresh, awake & helped in some way to mend the broken hearts; however there was only one medicine to properly cure to the pain – the one thing in life which puts a smile on everybody’s face: Football.
I knew even before I set off to my old village yesterday that the Mansfield Town side on show would be trialists, I knew that even a win from them wouldn’t be the full cure, but in my head my memory of Mansfield Town would not be the one which has annoyed me for months, that was enough for me to head to Rainworth, despite my open hatred from the place I was stuck in for way to many years!
I was pleasantly surprised when I arrived at the Kirklington Road ground; new stands had been built since my last visit, as had a club house & new changing facilities. Entering trough a side gate, myself & co-commentator Scott were greeted by the wrens press officer who took us to the press area, which if I’m honest, I didn’t expect them to have.
After moving our brand new kit around about a million times, the wrens press officer helped us out by carrying down a table, after setting up the new kit up via the aid of my own personal massive extension cable, I had two contrasting feelings. The first, an arrogant longing for Wembley & the top league’s top notch press facilities. The second feeling one of satisfaction, football was back and no matter how good or bad the facilities were, I’d be doing the commentators job forever (fingers crossed).
After interviewing Micky Moore, the stags assistant boss, for the first time I dashed back down to our commentary position and was pleasantly surprised to see a team sheet, when you’re fielding a team full of trialists & youth players the last thing you expect is to see a team sheet – especially one which matches the numbers to the correct players! Fair play to Rainworth on that one, things in that village have obviously improved since my departure.
Some would have questioned why we did full match commentary on a trialists game, the deal is full match commentary on all the stags away games & Rainworth was one so that’s that. I nearly questioned it myself though as we tried to figure out who was playing where, the numbering of 1-11 doesn’t always mean 1 will be keeper, 2-5-6-3 will be defenders, 7-4-8-11 will be midfielders & 9-10 will be strikers! Especially when you’re not playing a 4-4-2!
Mansfield’s trialist 11 included two players from the last campaign, goalkeeper Neil Collett & Striker Danny Mitchley, both players futures are uncertain, Mitchley is under contract but was told to find another club by Paul Cox whilst Collett (to my knowledge) was out of contract & released in the close season, however reports now suggest he penned a new deal prior to Paul Cox’s arrival – I’ll try & get confirmation soon.
1st Half Line Up: (Numbers in brackets denote the shirt number they wore for anybody who was at the game yesterday and didn’t know who was who)
(1) Neil Collett
(2) Jason Bradley – (5) Patrice Liburd – (6) Milan Redei – (3) Josh Wilde
(7) Yann Joueguel – (4) Lee Bennett – (8) Joe Lamplough
(10) Danny Mitchley (C) – (9) Patrick Samba – (11) Jamie Jackson
Subs (That I was aware of!): (1) Oliver Medley (12) Connor Branson (14) Sean Lynk (15) Blake Vincent (16) Jobe Shaw (17) Jack Whickham (18) Aaran Stirland
After a short delay to allow more fans to come into the ground, the hosts got the game underway kicking down the slight slope; it was them who enjoyed a good early spell during the opening exchanges with Mansfield’s trialists struggling to find the right gear. An early back pass to Neil Collett nearly gifted the wrens a chance as Collett scuffed his kick; it was perhaps the wakeup call the lads needs as the quickly grouped together and prevented any danger.
As the only ‘senior’ player in the outfield squad, Danny Mitchley skippered the side, he looked lively early on with a number of well timed runs in and around the area, two minutes into the encounter it was Mitchley who provided for his strike partner, chesting down Patrice Liburd’s free kick before playing in Patrick Samba who fired left footed into the side netting.
Mitchley was in the thick of the action moments later, linking up well with former York City trialist Jamie Jackson from Josh Wilde’s throw in, good movement from the stags skipper for the day matched by quick feet from Jackson saw the ball fall for Samba, a quick pass opened up space for unknown winger Yann Joueguel, he powered an effort towards goal which was blocked on the line by wrens defender Cameron Fearon.
The home side enjoyed their fair share of the ball in a fairly dull half; with just 7minutes gone they seemed very comfortable on the ball and earned themselves a free kick. Ricky Hanson’s right footed out swinger lingered in the air before a half clearance fell to Adam Jones, his chipped in ball was eventually cleared by 22 year old Trialist defender Milan Redei.
The chances became very few & far between as the half dragged on, it was very much what you expected to see when a team of trialists taking on another team of trialists, with many of the Rainworth squad yet to put pen to paper with the club.
Patrice Liburd was replaced by Connor Branson with 25 minutes on the clock, the former Bradford City & Nottingham Forest youth team defender pulled up injured after a series of Ariel challenges, paving the way for the former Barnsley Academy youngster to impress stags assistant Moore & player coach Andy Todd.
Something had to give and Mansfield finally found there spark during a 5-6 minute period inside the Rainworth half. Joe Lamplough began to get into the game a little more, opening up the home defence with a series of cross field balls looking for Jackson who dropped wide left. Lamplough was also the provider for Milan Redei who nearly headed home a Lamplough dead ball with around 28minutes on the clock, neither Redei nor Branson could connect with a Lamplough free kick minutes later which floated harmlessly past everybody & out of play.
At the other end, Neil Collett had to come to the rescue with 31 on the clock, Jason Beardsley sold Collett short with a back pass, Danny Simpson looked to take full advantage but was denied by Collett’s left boot.
6 minutes later it was Mansfield who found their feet in the Rainworth half, Jackson’s quick feet on the left seemed to give the stags space, however the former Worksop Town man lacked a sense of direction and often moved backwards rather than forwards, Jackson was brought down by the Rainworth defence earning the stags a free kick. Joe Lamplough’s dead ball strike beat the wall.... then the bar.... then the fence.... and rolled down Kirklington Road towards the local co-op.
Half time arrived with the stags just about on top but nobody really dazzled, a dull 45minutes ended goalless.
Half Time: Rainworth MW 0-0 Mansfield Town
The stags made one change at the break although I’ll hold my hands up and admit I didn’t spot it until around the 50th minute! Micky Moore also instructed the trialist side to change from 4-3-3 to 4-4-2
(1) Neil Collett
(17) Jack Whickham (Replacing Jamie Jackson) – (12) Connor Branson – (6) Milan Redei – (8) Joe Lamplough
(7) Yann Joueguel – (2) Jason Beardsley – (4) Lee Bennett – (3) Josh Wilde
(10) Danny Mitchley (C) – (9) Patrick Samba.
The stags kicked off the 2nd period but in similar fashion to the first, it was the wrens who had the brighter start, 3 minutes in the home sides worked a neat short corner James Fanfarillo’s chipped ball in flashed past a number of bodies before Cameron Fearon headed goal wards, back tracking Neil Collett made a vital save pushing the header around the post for a second corner.
With an hour gone it was Mansfield’s turn to create some chances, first Patrick Samba let fly from long range before a neat build up of play down the left channel from Lamplough & Wilde see Danny Mitchley played through on goal, the young striker was denied by wrens half time substitute goalie Neil West.
5 minutes later and the game got its first goal, after a pacey run down the right hand side, Ollie Wood drilled a low cross into the box which the stags defence failed to clear; Lee Briggs took full advantage firing home from close range, just managing to beat Collett who got a hand to the final shot.
Rainworth MW 1-0 Mansfield Town.
The wrens gained confidence from the opening goal and looked to add a second hammer blow to the stags’ team of trialists, Kyle Gee-Pemberton swung his boot at a loose ball inside the box, Connor Branson threw himself in front of it just in time to make a vital block.
Commentating on a trialist game was always going to be difficult, just when we’d worked out who was who and who was playing were, the stags made changes, youth team trio Sean Lynk (14), Blake Vincent (15) & Jobe Shaw (16) replaced trialist trio Josh Wilde (3), Milan Redei (6) & Joe Lamplough (8). Youngster Aaran Stirland (18) also took the field as the game progressed, although who he replaced I seriously have no idea, I’d lost track by then!
After trailing the game for 14 minutes, the stags managed to draw level thanks to a perfect combination of old faces, trialist faces & young faces. Danny Mitchley did well to find space to the right of the box, chipping over a perfect ball for on rushing young winger Blake Vincent to connect with, Vincent hit the ball left footed on the half volley, forcing West into a good save pushing the ball onto the ball, former Stafford Rangers forward Patrick Samba got there first and bundled home to level the game.
Rainworth MW 1-1 Mansfield Town
With 10 minutes left, youth team goalkeeper Oliver Medley replaced Neil Collett, two minutes after coming off the bench the young shot stopper turned Gee-Pemberton’s long range effort round the post after the wrens broke down field with the now young stags suffering from a lapse in concentration.
The game fizzled out & the full time whistle came as a relief to all watching on, a poor game with very little to be buzzing about, but it’s what you expect watching trialists I guess! Now we can look forwards to the first team playing on Tuesday night.
Full Time: Rainworth MW 1-1 Mansfield Town.
Micky Moore said to me post match that every contracted player will play at least 45 minutes on Tuesday evening ahead of the home fixtures with Notts County & Doncaster Rovers, he also seemed impressed with Danny Mitchley, could the Rainworth game be the one which gives Mitchley a second chance at Field Mill?
I’m not one for picking a man of the match & I know that not many will agree with me either, but today I’m going to award man of the match to Danny Mitchley. He made some good runs, led the side well, linked up with team mates & led the side well; I wish him all the best for the future.
In all honesty, I can’t see any of the trialists on show yesterday afternoon putting pen to paper on deals at stags and playing regular first team football, I could see a few making up the numbers and doing a job on & off but it’s ultimately not what we want or need at this stage. I know a lot of frustrated people left the Kirklington Road ground but that’s the point of these games – its trial & error, sometimes they’ll be a gem shining, others they won’t be, if you don’t look, you won’t find out. It’s not time for the coaching staff to make their assessment & get on with the first team action.
My Assessment with those on show yesterday
Played well struggled early on with his kicking but once he got that out his system, he played his normal strong game. Handled the ball well, commanded his box well, managed to get a hand to the goal but strike was to powerful. Rescued stags with a vital save after Beardsley’s error.
Seemed to defend ok once he began to properly communicate with the back four. He did enough to keep the wingers quiet during the 1st half but for me looked much more settled in the centre in the 2nd half alongside Bennett.
Seemed to have a quiet 1st half but did what he needed to do, Josh seemed to come to life a little more in the 2nd half playing on the left side of midfield linking up well with Lamplough.
Struggled to take hold of the game at first with a number of missed placed passes, as the game progressed he showed flashes of talent, especially in the second half around the edge of the box with quick feet and good vision.
Unfortunately wasn’t on the pitch for too long, subbed in the 25th minute with an injury. He did ok but seemed hesitant going for the second ball in the air; a communication issue plagued both him & Redei as they seemed to get in each other’s way.
A slow start but seemed to play much better alongside Branson, as the game got older. Showed Ariel presence from set pieces at both ends. A good prospect but as with 99% of the trialists, not good enough for our first team yet.
Showed quick feet and vision when given space on the ball but when closed down he struggled. He showed good Ariel presence attacking set pieces and came close to the stag’s opener. Another player with good potential if coached right, would like to have seen him wide left as well as wide right.
One of the better players on show but wasn’t at his best. Seemed to do well in the centre of the park with numerous balls to break down & then restart play from one side of the pitch to the other, prefers to opt for his left a little too often which restricts the flow of his game which disappointed me. Linked up well with Wilde when playing at left back in the second half but the goal came from his side of the pitch.
The goal scorer may have had a heavier touch than some but read the game well, passed the ball when needed & wasn’t afraid to have a go with both feet. Another player with potential but serious questions over whether he can match the 1st team standard.
The only senior player from last season playing outfield, which therefore gave him the captaincy. He did well and looked a lot more lively than last season and has clearly been keeping fit close season. He may not be everyone’s cup of tea but his off the ball movement was spot on, his control was of a good standard, just didn’t get the chances to bag a goal which is a shame. I saw the same hunger in his eyes that I saw against Luton. My man of the match.
His quick feet reminded me of Adam Smith, he managed to make space for himself but a lack of decision making saw him run into trouble & although he ran out of it, he ran backwards and the move broke down. The times he did run forwards, his delivery wasn’t up to scratch. A few decent corner deliveries but seemed inconsistent wide left & upfront, I would have liked to have seen him wide right but was taken off at the break.
He looked natural slotting in at the back after Liburd’s injury, good potential given the right guidance. He did make a few errors of judgement but threw himself in front of a goal bound effort on more than once. He needs to work on his short passing & communication but he’s got plenty of time to shine.
Now I’m looking forwards to the first team playing at Nuneaton, don’t forget if you can’t get there’s full match commentary on Takeover 106.9FM from 7.30PM – see the link on the right hand side to listen online.
Thanks for reading, enjoy the podcast & I’ll see you soon.