Forest suffer 2-1 defeat at Mansfield Town
NOTTINGHAM Forest suffered a 2-1 defeat at Mansfield Town, as Sean O'Driscoll continues to piece together his new look side.
New signings Danny Collins and Greg Halford both made their debuts for the Reds, but it was a disjointed performance as Forest fielded two almost entirely different sides in each half.
Instead it was the Stags, who already had five pre-season friendlies under their belts, who often looked the sharper of the two sides – and who deserved victory.
Anthony Howell put Stags ahead early in the second half and, while Ishmael Miller provided a spectacular leveller, Nick Wright followed suit with an impressive strike of his own to ensure victory for the home side, in a behind closed doors friendly at the One Call Stadium.
Forest included former Leicester City winger Franck Moussa in their starting XI, as manager O'Driscoll had a look at the free agent.
The 23-year-old was released by the Foxes at the end of the season, after failing to make a huge impact with the Reds' Championship rivals.
The Belgian player almost got the game's first goal, as a defensive slip allowed him to collect possession on the edge of the box before cutting inside to let fly with a driven shot that Alan Marriott did well to push away, diving low to his right.
From the resulting corner, Guy Moussi had a shot charged down after Forest had worked themselves into a promising position.
But it was Mansfield who were to respond by carving out a few opportunities of their own, to test the reflexes of Lee Camp.
Firstly the Northern Ireland international demonstrated sharp reactions to push away an angled shot from Anthony Howell. Then he produced an even better save to push a powerful strike from Lindon Miekle onto the post, with Howell firing over when presented with a fine chance from the rebound.
Luke Jones then produced a towering header from a John Thompson corner, but saw it fly narrowly over the bar.
Gary Roberts was given a long lecture by the referee after hacking down Andy Reid for the third time in the first half hour – and might have been on dodgy ground had this match not been a friendly encounter.
Moussa produced another dangerous moment when he angled across the face of the box, before changing direction to dart into the area, beyond two Stags players, before then firing a dangerous cross towards the far post, where there were no Reds players positioned to profit.
Reid and Moussi both had firmly struck shots blocked as Forest looked to find a way through the Stags defence while Moussa produced a disappointing shot after a superb interchange with the overlapping Moloney down the right.
Marcus Tudgay forced a brave save from Marriott after Moussi had fed Reid on the edge of the box following a corner, allowing the Irishman to lift a dangerous ball towards the far post, where the keeper threw himself in at Tudgay's feet to smother his instant shot.
It was understandable that Forest's new look defence, with new signings Greg Halford and Danny Collins partnered in the centre with Moloney and Kieron Freeman either side, was taking time to gel.
And Jones almost took advantage as the Reds took an age to close him down just inside the box, allowing the defender to let fly with a rasping, rising effort that Camp brilliantly pushed over the bar.
Forest made nine changes to their side at half-time, with only defenders Collins and Freeman surviving from the first period.
Kuwaiti trialist Bader Al Mutawi was included in an attacking midfield role. While Ismael Bouzid, a former Hearts player and Algerian international team mate of Adlene Guedioura, was included in the centre of defence.
But it was Mansfield who were to finally break the deadlock, as Howell produced an incisive finish when presented with the chance to unleash an angled volley at the far post, which sub keeper Karl Darlow was unable to stop, four minutes into the second half.
For Forest, Ishmael Miller was looking lively up front, forcing a save from Shane Redmond, who had come on at half time.
But the keeper was helpless to deny the striker a goal in the 57th minute when he hammered an unstoppable shot high into the corner of the net from just inside the box.
Forest did not have parity for long, however, with Stags substitute Wright firing them into the lead for a second time in the 63rd minute. Again, Darlow was largely blameless, as the striker broke clear and delivered a precise, powerful finish beyond the keeper.
Al Mutawa missed a golden chance to level after good work from Miller saw the striker power into space down the right before cutting the ball back into the path of the Kuwaiti international, who failed to make contact with the ball from close range.
Matt Rhead forced a fine stop from Khalid Al Rashidi, after he had replaced Darlow, as he tried his luck with a no nonsense strike from just inside the box, which he lashed his foot through emphatically.
Stags brought on former Derby player Pablo Mills, who is currently without a club, and he almost netted – but failed to make proper connection with a close range effort.
Miller came close to an equaliser with a sharp turn and shot that saw the ball flash just wide of the post, late in the game.
Forest: Camp, Halford, Freeman, Collins, Reid, Greening, Tudgay, Moussa, Blackstock, Moloney, Moussi.
Forest second half: Darlow (Al Rashidi 75), Lascelles, Collins (Fenton 50), Freeman, Guedioura, Al Mutawa, Miller, McGugan, McGoldrick, Bouzid, Derbyshire. Subs: Reegan, Andrew.
Stags: Marriott (Redmond 45), Thompson, Jones (Mills 63), Dempster, Owens (Sutton 69), Roberts (Clements 45), Hand (Hutchinson 69), Howell (Poku 69), Dyer (Biscoe 61), Meikle (Wright 61), Green (Rhead 61).