Full Time Score Northampton Town 1-1 Mansfield Town
Competition Sky Bet League Two
Venue PTS Academy Stadium
Stags Goal Scorer(s) Mal Benning
Attendance 5,905 (1,465)
Craig Priest writes…
David Flitcroft said in the week that the Stags would get things wrong during the final five games, and asked for patience when doing so – the need to all stick together is pivotal and so I’m trying to channel my hurt at slipping up yesterday into something else entirely – simply asking the football gods why can we never have a simple season!
I firmly believe the Stags have enough about them to finish in the top three, however David Flitcroft needs to show his hand when it comes to managing mentality this week – because throughout the match, it looked like our players couldn’t cope with the expectation, which whilst it carried high stakes, was simply to perform and win.
From back to front we looked nervy and couldn’t cope with the fundamentals of Northampton’s game – being direct, something with our back three/five, you’d expect to be a routine day at the office.
Mal’s opening goal on 11 minutes was testament to the quality we can have and the work we do on the training pitch, but it should have calmed us down and made a platform for an easier afternoon – instead it became far less than plain sailing, with the water far more choppy.
When a team has thirty-plus set plays the law of averages says they’re going to grab a goal – but that said Mansfield’s ONE loss of concentration has ultimately cost us two points, because other than pick the ball out of the net and slam the ball forward, Logan had nothing of real note to do.
Yes you could argue that our front line haven’t taken their chances which is a fair argument, but when you’ve got a lead and something to protect – you have to remain focussed.
Thankfully results elsewhere have kept us in the top three, dropping from second to third as a Bury reawakening saw them beat Colchester, however with Tranmere narrowly beating MK Dons, the one point buffer remains – PLEASE can the season finish NOW!!
FOUR games remain with a bumper bank holiday weekend ahead, starting with Morecambe at home followed by a trip to Oldham – live on Sky Sports, neither team will want the season to filter out and will be out to cause upset, both fixtures tougher than playing a team around you in my view – therefore that nervousness, that lapse of concentration needs to be eliminated and the Stags need a reaction.
David Flitcroft said in the week about backing the boys when it doesn’t quite go right, we did that yesterday in full volume, let’s pack the One Call on Friday and back the boys again – this time hoping with a full heart that they return the favour, with three points.
Nothing is over, until it’s over. COME ON!
Ryan Sweeney replaced the injured Ben Turner in the only change from last weekend’s victory over Cambridge, David Flitcroft clearly not wanting to rock the boat to much as the final straight and final prize narrowly etches into view.
The hosts managed by former Stags boss Keith Curle, the last manager to lead the Stags into the League Two play-offs, started well and enjoyed a number of early set plays – Charlie Goode and Aaron Pierre both sending heads wide of the target inside the opening five minutes.
Mansfield then won their first corner on 12 minutes and Mal Benning opening the scoring, his delivery going straight into the net as it missed the head of Sweeney on the near post – nothing adventurous, just an advantage, one which Mansfield desperately needed.
Both sides enjoyed possession but did little with it, Tyler Walker saw an effort blocked on the edge of the box just after the half-hour mark whilst the hosts did well to stop CJ Hamilton getting in behind – the half time whistle sounding with a 1-0 lead.
A defensive error from the hosts gifted the Stags a corner on 55 minutes but Mansfield couldn’t take advantage from MacDonald’s delivery, a minute later Mellis was introduced as Tomlinson made way.
Danny Rose then replaced Jones on 66 minutes but three minutes later a momentary lapse saw the Cobblers take full advantage as Scott Pollock of YouTube fame, squared the ball to Sam Foley from a corner – Foley turning home for 1-1.
Matt Preston came close to restoring the Stags’ lead on 72 minutes as he headed wide from MacDonald’s corner, five minutes later Danny Rose’s acrobatic effort from well blocked. With five minutes remaining Rose squandered a golden chance as the ball was headed to his feet inside the box, before Mellis hit a long range free kick over the bar.
A point just enough to keep the Stags in the top three, although as the players made their way from the pitch, the overall sense was that a golden chance to get a firmer grip of the top three had gone begging.
FULL TIME: Northampton Town 1-1 Mansfield Town
STAGS [3-4-1-2] Conrad Logan, Matt Preston, Krystian Pearce ©, Ryan Sweeney, Gethin Jones (Danny Rose 66), Neal Bishop, Willem Tomlinson (Jacob Mellis 57), Mal Benning, Alex MacDonald, Tyler Walker, CJ Hamilton
Unused Subs: Jordan Smith, Jorge Grant, Will Atkinson, Zayn Hakeem, Jason Law
Referee: Paul Marsden
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