Bradford brushed aside by Stags
Mansfield Town condemned Bradford to their first defeat of pre-season at the Horsfall Stadium.
Mark Bower fielded an experimental side once again, opting to take a further look at numerous trialists and handing first-team opportunities to scholars Lewis Johnson and Matthew Rowntree. American trialist Aaron Onion also appeared as a second-half substitute after joining on a temporary basis from Bugeaters F.C in Nebraska. Both sides made eleven changes during the game but whereas Bradford’s changes were staggered, Mansfield made eleven substitutions during the half-time break.
The hosts started brightly and a trialist was unlucky to see his curling effort fly wide after he had raced in behind the Stags backline. In fact, Bradford looked the more threatening side in the opening exchanges, and some deft footwork and neat passing from the attacking contingent left Mansfield chasing shadows for a brief spell.
The visitors, however, grew into the game and began to ask questions of Bradford’s defence. Otis Khan and Tyler Walker forced Steven Drench to produce saves in quick succession as pressure began to mount on the National League North side.
Craig Davies tried his luck from around 20-yards out but despite generating considerable power in his shot, couldn’t find the target.
As Mansfield’s tempo quickened, Bradford were forced to deal with a Stags onslaught in the final 20 minutes of the first-half. The ball was threaded through to Walker who spun in the box, but was denied the chance to shoot by an expertly-timed sliding tackle from a trialist.
The League Two side’s frustrations at not being able to convert chances threatened to boil over midway through the first-half, as Pearce was booked for dragging Nicky Clee’s shirt and Nathan Cameron was penalised for bundling Danny Boshell to the ground.
The best opportunity of the half fell to Mansfield’s Khan, who hammered the woodwork with a rising effort from close-range. After almost converting himself, Khan turned provider and delivered the ball on a plate for Malvind Benning, who fired over with a volley.
HALF-TIME: Bradford (Park Avenue) 0-0 Mansfield Town
After Mansfield’s wholesale changes, they posed a considerably greater threat to a Bradford backline that now seemed disjointed following the changes of their own.
Five minutes after the restart, former Chelsea midfielder Jacob Mellis fired Mansfield ahead with a well-struck effort that nestled in the bottom corner.
Mansfield’s advantage was doubled shortly after, as Lee Angol latched on to a perfectly weighted pass from Will Atkinson before steering past Bradford’s trialist goalkeeper.
Atkinson then whipped in a cross in search of a second assist, but the delivery eluded the advancing CJ Hamilton.
The visitors pressed forward relentlessly in spite of their comfortable lead, and Calum Butcher saw a header hooked off the line superbly by a Bradford trialist.
Mellis then found Lewis Gibbens with a delivery, but the young defender’s header was palmed away by the Bradford stopper.
The continual pressure was eventually rewarded as Angol added a third, causing the back of the net to bulge with a thunderous strike from close-range after linking up with Atkinson.
Hamilton raced down the right flank with impressive speed as full-time approached, but failed to maintain his composure and rifled over the crossbar.
The final opportunity of the game fell to Atkinson, who forced the Bradford stopper to palm away a powerful effort. The trialist goalkeeper then moved quickly to scramble across and pounce on the ball before Angol could net his third.
FULL-TIME: Bradford (Park Avenue) 0-3 Mansfield Town
Bradford (PA): Drench, Trialist, Lowe, Trialist, Killock, Trialist, McKenna, Boshell, Trialist, Trialist, Clee.
Substitutes (all featured): Toulson, Trialist, Wroe, Havern, Spencer, Nowakowski, Johnson, Trialist, Onion, Johnson, Rowntree.
Mansfield Town (first-half): Olejnik, Pearce, Preston, Cameron, White, Benning, MacDonald, Bishop, Khan, Walker, Davies.
Mansfield Town (second-half): Logan, Atkinson, Wilder, Digby, Gibbens, Hamilton, Butcher, Mellis, Sterling-James (Blake 83′), Angol, Graham.
Referee: James Bell