A mixture of Nottingham Forest’s first team, Under 21s and Academy secured a 1-0 win at Mansfield’s One Call Stadium this afternoon.Radi Majewski’s strike in the opening minute was enough to hand Forest the victory.
Billy Davies favoured the vantage point offered by Mansfield Town’s Directors’ Box as Under 21s coach Charlie McParland oversaw procedings from the touchline.
New signings Eric Lichaj and Jamie Paterson were handed a starting berth, while young defender Kieron Fenton took his place alongside Greg Halford at the heart of The Reds’ defence.
Within a minute, Forest had the lead. Majewski picked the ball up in acres of space and his effort from 25 yards squirmed under Alan Marriott and into the net.
It had been a shakey start for the experienced stopper, who miskicked a simple clearance minutes later, but he made amends on 12 minutes when he got down well to save a Matt Derbyshire header from Stephen McLaughlin’s excellent cross.
Derbyshire had earlier fired over after turning in the box, and on 22 miunutes he shot straight at Marriott from outside the area after receiving the ball from Paterson. This time, the keeper held firm.
Forest continued to dominate and, after Derbyshire had dug out a cross from the byline, Majewski’s volley at the back post was deflected over for a corner.
Mansfield did have the ball in the net on 33 minutes after a rare foray into Forest’s area, but Lee Stevenson’s strike was ruled out for offside.
The Reds were happy to see the rest of the half out with some patient passing play, although a minor scare came in the form of a Matt Rhead overhead kick which sailed just wide of Karl Darlow’s post two minutes before the break.
Forest made no changes at half-time and started the second period on the back foot as Lichaj had to be alert to clear a dangerous attack for a corner.
Three minutes later, Darlow was forced into a good one-handed save to deny substitute Jake Speight after the ball wriggled into the striker’s posession in the area.
Forest went straight down the other end and Paterson showed good skills to force a corner from the onrushing Marriott.
Paterson was again involved moments later – he slid McLaughnlin into the area, but the Irishman’s low strike was turned behind by the keeper.
From Chris Cohen’s resultant corner, Halford couldn’t connect properly with his header after finding space in the middle - his effort flashed wide.
Forest continued to press and it was Cohen’s turn to next have a go. He received the ball from Derbyshire on the edge of the box but couldn’t control his left-footed curler, which sailed over.
Cohen was then replaced by Aristote Amisi Kamaneno and shortly after play resumed, McLaughlin fired a shot across goal after bursting onto a long ball.
Stags’ Sam Clucas then forced an excellent save from Darlow after heading powerfully towards goal. From the resultant corner, the ball fell to substitute Louis Briscoe 25 yards out. His powerful first-time effort flew through a crowd of bodies but Darlow was positioned well to block it with his chest.
Majewski and Derbyshire were then replaced by David Morgan and trialist Jordan Devine respectively, before Wilfried Gnahore came on for Paterson, another trialist Modibo Tounkara swapped with Dexter Blackstock and McLaughlin made way for Kieran Wallace.
With ten minutes to go, Briscoe picked the ball up in time and space and rattled Darlow’s crossbar with a powerful effort, before Gnahore curled over at the other end after receiving the ball from Morgan.
Young full-back Ilias Polimos then replaced Fenton – a move which saw Lichaj switch to a central defensive role.
Forest ended the game in the ascendancy but couldn’t find a second goal. The match finished 1-0.
Forest: Darlow, Lichaj, Halford, Fenton (Polimos), Cohen (Kamaneno), Paterson (Gnahore), Greening, Majewski (Morgan), McLaughlin (Wallace), Derbyshire (Devine), Blackstock (Tounkara).
Scorer: Majewski 1'
Mansfield: Marriott, Beevers, Jennings, Riley, McCombe, McGuire, Meikle, Murray, Rhead, Stevenson, Clucas
Subs: Deakin, Sutton, Dempter, Tafozolli, Howell, Clements, Briscoe, Arnold, Hutchinson, Dyer, Speight
Referee: Andrew Haines