Full Time Score Tranmere Rovers 0-0 Mansfield Town
Competition Sky Bet League Two
Venue Prenton Park, Tranmere
Stags Goal Scorers /
Craig Priest writes…
It’s funny how a week can totally change your mood – seven days prior we were reflecting on an astonishing victory over Accrington Stanley, whereas now, a week later – we’re wondering if we’ve used up all our goals – following a goalless draw at Tranmere which saw a number of opportunities wasted by David Flitcrofts men.
The Stags were below par against newly promoted Tranmere and again were left frustrated, collecting yet another draw.
For me personally whilst I’m disappointed and frustrated that we couldn’t get all three points, I’m happy that we’ve managed to stay tight enough at the back to build a clean sheet and not taste the bitter blow of disappointment which comes from a late goal against us like on Saturday.
That said it’s clear for me now that we need to use the loan window to boost our ranks – especially in the full back/ wing back area as, as resolute as CJ Hamilton is, he’s not a right sided player and any attack we mount down that side, see’s us come back inside and forced backwards – it’s negative and easy to defend against.
On the other side, the usually steady Mal Benning had a shocker last night and moving CJ across to the left really opened the game is, the problem then is – you’re asking a central midfielder in Will Atkinson to play right wing back and it’s a gamble we can’t afford to be taking, especially in situations such as last night where the game was there for the taking.
I believe the Stags do have the answer in house – Paul Anderson. His experience is vast and he showed last season, prior to the arrival of Flitcroft, that he can play anywhere well, with that right side certainly suiting his game – if whatever the situation is with Flitcroft can be sorted out, then it would be like getting a new signing.
We are missing that experienced pro which would not only help us to close games out – but also to go on and win them. A prime example, defensively on Saturday a more experienced player than Walker shows the Colchester man down the line, sees the ball out of play and its game over rather than giving away a soft free kick which results in added time and then a goal. In attack, that experience just pushes us forward a little bit more and see’s the run of Davies, who doesn’t like to attack on the front foot – he likes to hold off for cut backs – an experienced head see’s that, and we score.
The main talking point is the change of guard in goal – Oljenik played very well and, whilst I’m not a boo boy or pick people out for criticism, I felt that change was needed and that Olejnik played very well and can now go onto enjoy a run in the team which extends beyond a cup match here and a friendly there.
It’s frustrating to not have reward for our efforts, but we didn’t lose. One thing that does annoy me, is the comparison between this season and last season and that in his whole competitive tenure, we’ve only won three under Flitcroft – it’s an utterly pointless debate, different players, different pressures, different circumstances. A draw is not a loss, a cleansheet is important – if we can’t break teams down, then let’s get out there and make it hard for teams to beat us and break us down – starting with Macclesfield on Saturday.
Bobby Oljenik replaced Conrad Logan between the sticks with Craig Davies and Neal Bishop also back in the side – Calum Butcher and Jacob Mellis missed out as Flitcroft made three changes.
The pendulum was in full swing for both sides during the first half, Otis Khan picked out Craig Davies who saw a long range effort held by Scott Davies in the Tranmere goal, Neal Bishop also put one over the bar from range – moments after Oljenik was called into action – denying Ollie Banks within the opening ten minutes.
Oljenik was then on hand again to deny the dangerous James Norwood with his feet, after the Tranmere front man had skipped his way through – at the other end, Otis Khan forced a smart save from Davies in the home goal.
Pearce and Hamilton came to the Stags aid at the back as the hosts put on the pressue, on half an hour Khan tried to relieve that by scoring the opener – the tricky attack midfielder, denied by the home keeper.
Neal Bishop and Tyler Walker caused problems before the break, but on the referee’s whistle, it remainded goalless.
After the break the Stags struggled to get going and Flitcroft withdrew Mal Benning on the hour – Will Atkinson his replacement went across to right wing back, Hamilton to the left.
Otis Khan then wasted an opportunity to break the deadlock as he found himself clean through – rather than drill low into the corners, Khan hit straight at Davies.
With Twelve minutes to go Butcher & Rose replaced Khan and Craig Davies respectively as the Stags looked for the key to open up the hosts, however it was the hosts who came closest – Oljenik on hand to tip away an 80th minute goal bound header.
Tyler Walker then dragged one wide after being played into the box, he also couldn’t connect with a MacDonald cross – after tenacious work from the Stags number seven.
In the final seconds of the match, the hosts had two chances – Oljenik making a smart save to stop the fires, before the hosts were awarded a free kick, which fortunately was wasted to the sound of the full time whistle
FULL TIME: Tranmere Roves 0-0 Mansfield Town
STAGS [3-4-2-1]: Bobby Olejnik, Hayden White, Krystian Pearce ©, Ryan Sweeney, CJ Hamilton, Neal Bishop, Alex MacDonald, Mal Benning (Will Atkinson 59), Otis Khan (Calum Butcher 78), Craig Davies (Danny Rose 78), Tyler Walker
Unused Subs: Conrad Logan, Lewis Gibbens, Omari Sterling-James, Jacob Mellis
Referee: Thomas Bramall
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