Mansfield Hosiery Mills Sports & Social Club is situated on the edge of Sutton-in-Ashfield, a few miles to the West of Mansfield town centre. The complex comprises of the clubhouse, cricket ground and the football stadium. There's a reasonably large car park plus parking available on The Fieldings, the road that leads to the club from the main Sutton/Huthwaite Road. The stadium is accessed through a single turnstile, on the evening operated by a friendly local lady. This brings you into the corner of the ground. The single stand is directly in front of you, situated between the goal and the corner flag. Running along the side of the pitch, to your right as you enter, are the changing facilities, toilets and café with dugouts on the opposite side. The pitch slopes quite a bit down towards the stand end of the ground.
The Millers Times is a 16 page magazine with only two pages of advertising. There are the usual club details and contacts, squad lists and tables (as this was the first of a new season, the table was last season's finishing positions). This edition also contained a good centre spread detailing the new divisions and constitution for this season after the merger with the Midland Regional Alliance over the Summer. Good to see a team at this level producing a printed programme.
Mansfield Hosiery Mills joined the Central Midlands structure from the Nottingham Senior League at the end of the 2019-20 season. Consequently, their first two seasons in the league were both abandoned due to Covid. In the two seasons since then they have managed a seventeenth and fourteenth place finish, showing an improvement each season. Arnold Town joined the league in the same season, moving from the East Midlands Counties League. They too have seen a similar seasonal improvement, finishing sixteenth and then eleventh last season. Despite Arnold showing the slightly better improvement, they have yet to beat Mansfield in their four meetings. In the first full season Mills did the double, winning 1-0 at home and 2-1 at Eagle Valley. Last season both games ended in 1-1 draws.
Arnold, in their maroon kit, kicked us off, going down the slope in the first half. Both sides got off to a fairly bright start. Only four minutes in Town's Craig Taylor swung over a cross from the right which went over Ethan Brown's head before coming back off the bar. Liam Black, on the follow-up, couldn't quite get enough on the loose ball to take advantage. Two minutes later the action switched to the opposite end where home captain Tom Suter fired off a strong drive which was comfortably dealt with by Piotr Strycharz in the Town goal. Straight down the other end, Liam Black was more alert than the home defence, nipping in behind them to just about reach a long through ball before lofting over the advancing Brown, only to see his effort drop just over the bar. Then two minutes later, the end a breathless five minutes, Henry Brooks tested Strycharz again, forcing the keeper to go full length to claim his low drive.
Three minutes later the home side came close again when left-back Max Denton ran onto a loose ball and fired in a great effort (on target according to the player) which was deflected just wide for a corner.
As the half wore on Mills began to look the more likely to create a goal. Arnold, despite a very good start, seemed to have lost their way a little, certainly in the final third in the face of an increasingly steady looking Mills back four.
The best move of the half came on the 40th minute. A flowing exchange of passes set Mansfield's right-back, Matt Philips, free down the right. His deep cross was met by George Simpson arriving a the far post. Unfortunately for the home side, he couldn't make the most of the opportunity. The home support weren't disheartened for much longer though. Two minutes before the break they took the lead. Suter was the architect, getting free on the left again before delivering to the far post. The cross was met by the head of Cory Burton who directed a looping header back over Strycharz into the net. 1-0
HT Mansfield Hosiery Mills 1 Arnold Town 0. A fairly even half. However, Arnold edged the possession but have been unable to really test Brown.
Arnold seemed to have survived the initial wave of attacks from the Blues and were now sharing the possession, but were still struggling to make any clear cut chances of their own. Just after the hour mark the visitors had their big chance to get back on level terms. Full-back Kyme Mason was presented with a one on one opportunity inside the Mills penalty area. Credit to home keeper Ethan Brown, who up to this point had not been stretched once, who spread himself well saving with his feet to keep his side ahead.
That was an important save from Brown. It forced the visitors to keep pushing forward, allowing more space for Mills to take advantage of in the final third. On 77 minutes they did just that and, effectively, put the game to bed. Once again it was their captain Tom Suter who did the damage, even if this time it was a little fortunate. His slightly mis-hit cross from the right completely deceived Strycharz, sailing over his outstretched hand into the far corner. 2-0.
There was no way back for Arnold after the second goal. In fact only a Strychrz fingertip over the bar in the 91st minute prevented Cory Burton's long range effort from making the score line even worse for them
FT Mansfield Hosiery Mills 2 Arnold Town 0. Mills extend their unbeaten run against Arnold to five games. Deservedly so on their second half display, especially. Although it couldn't be said that they dominated the game, as a neutral they always seemed comfortable and in control in the second period. Arnold started so positively but then only managed to test Brown seriously on one occasion. Only Mills are in action on Saturday as they make the short trip South to Linby Colliery Welfare. Mills won 3-0 there last season and will be keen to replicate that result.
Arnold will have to wait until the 19th to try to get some points on the board when they travel to Graham Street Prims, where they lost 4-0 last season.
Mansfield Hosiery Mills: Brown, Philips, Denton, Torrington, Gregory, Riley, Simpson, Burton, Brooks, Suter(c), Smithson. Subs: Gordon, Dickinson, Ordidge, Millward, Carrington
Arnold Town: Strycharz, Hylton, Mason, Clift(c), Jenkins, Neville, Ogden, Taylor, Black, Chambers, Hubbard. Subs: Davies, White, Cobb, Callan, Francis
Ground Number: 368