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Mansfield Town 1-3 Aston Villa

Posted onPosted on 17th Jul
Mansfield Town 1-3 Aston Villa

A youthful Mansfield Town conceded two late goals to lose 3-1 to Premier League Aston Villa in Thursday’s entertaining friendly at One Call Stadium.

The injury and illness-hit Stags took the lead three minutes before half-time through Alex Fisher. Fisher, who converted a penalty in Saturday’s 3-1 win against Notts County and was signed in the summer from Italian football this summer, netted from point-blank range after John Dempster flicked on a Liam Marsden long throw-in.

However, in the 61st minute Darren Bent, a half-time substitute, levelled from two yards, shortly after Sam Clucas limped off injured for the Stags moments after coming close to extending the home side’s lead.

Then in the 85th minute Gary Gardner prodded in from close range as Villa made their second-half superiority tell. Bent added a simple third with the last kick of the game.

Despite the concerns over losing Fergus Bell and Clucas to injury, Stags boss Paul Cox will have been pleased with his triallist keeper, who made several good stops, the best a point-blank save to deny Andreas Weimann in the 87th minute.

Cox’s team did well against top-flight opposition and only struggled in the second half as Villa brought on their star names and the Stags lost players through injury and introduced more triallists and younger players, including Jack Thomas and Chris Spencer. Liam Marsden played most of the match.

Villa named a separate side for each half, with their strongest side featuring in the second-half. The Stags named three triallists in their starting XI, including another triallist keeper following a look at Nottingham Forest’s Dimitar Evtimov in the win over County. Youth team player Chris Spencer was also in the squad.

In the eighth minute Sutton cleared off the line after an open start to the game. At the other end summer signing Alex Fisher broke clear onto a long ball, but with no support shot straight at the keeper from a tight angle.

Mansfield’s triallist keeper did well to keep out a close range drive from Leandro Bacuna midway through the first half. Bacuna then horribly miscued an attempted lob that flew over the bar.

As Villa continued to create chances on the break with swift passing, Gabby Agbonlahor headed wide of the upright at the far post.

Sam Clucas, a first-half substitute for the injured Fergus Bell, brought a diving save from Villa’s experienced keeper, Shay Given, with a 30-yard free kick curled around the defensive wall.

Villa’s second-half line-up looked stronger on paper, but the Stags continued to match the Premier League stars and should have doubled their lead when half-time substitute Matt Rhead pulled the ball back from the byeline to the unmarked Clucas, who was just beaten to the ball by the keeper.

Clucas appeared to take a heavy knock in the challenge and went down again two minutes later. This time he limped off to be replaced by youngster Jack Thomas.

Gary Gardner curled a free kick past the post for Villa.

However, the Premier League’s quality substitutions paid off as three quick passes left Darren Bent with a simple far post tap-in to level in the 61st minute.

As Villa dominated the last half-hour through the pace of their substitutes, in particular Andreas Weimann, and Stags growing youthful and inexperienced line-up, Bent was denied a second by an excellent low save from the triallist home keeper.

Gardener gave the keeper no chance with a late winner, although there was still time for the keeper to repeat his heroics and deny the impressive Weimann from point-blank range before Bent tapped in a last-minute third.

Mansfield Town: Trialist, Sutton, Dempster, Riley; Marsden (80mins triallist), Trialist (Howell 45mins), McGuire (Spencer 80mins), F.Bell (Clucas 30mins, Thomas 55mins), Trialist (A. Bell 45mins); Palmer (Rhead 45mins), Fisher (trialist).

Villa (first half): Given, Lowton, Okore, Clark, Bennett, Bacuna, Carruthers, Delph, Tonev, Cole, Agbonlahor.

Villa (second half): Steer, Herd, Westwood, Baker, Hutton, El Ahmadi, Gardner, Richardson, N’Zogbia, Bent, Weimann. Subs: Grealish, Stevens.

Attendance: 3,432 (1,078)