Full Time Score Mansfield Town 4-0 Morecambe
Competition Sky Bet League Two
Venue One Call Stadium
Stags Goal Scorer(s) Jacob Mellis, Krystian Pearce, CJ Hamilton, Mal Benning
Attendance 5,177 (107)
Craig Priest writes…
Buying a Mansfield Town ticket should come with a health warning – I’m thinking increased heart rate, high blood pressure and stress – lots of bloody stress! Alas when the results and performances are like the one against Morecambe, it’s well worth the health risk!
The Stags needed a huge display following a rather nervy weekend at Northampton last time out and really needed to show they had the nerve to challenge for a place in the top three and try and put some breathing space between themselves and the chasing pack.
Did they do that? 1000000000000000000000000000000000% they did with a dominant display full of intent, confidence and the critical key element – a red hot killer touch.
From the very first whistle the Stags fought to win the ball and for a good half an hour didn’t allow Morecambe time to breathe – peppering the goal mouth only to be denied by Barry Roche, who showed keepers really do get better with age, with a goalkeeping master class in the first half.
Jacob Mellis’ opening goal was vital as I feel had we dominated without reward, the frustration would have boiled over and given the heat and occasion, we may well have made a punishable mistake.
There was a time in the second half where I feared that the visitors would get back into the game and Mansfield should be credited for finding their way through that and adding the killer touch to gain a three goal cushion and crush the visitors hopes.
Monday’s game needs to be just as intense from our perspective as the bigger the gap between ourselves and those chasing us, the easier the final two games will be – especially considering we have to play one of the chasing teams!
Nothing, absolutely NOTHING, is sealed yet – three games now to play and it could all change dramatically, all I ask Mansfield Town FC, is to repeat that display of energy, pressure, intent, desire and killer instinct – because THAT is the difference between success and failure! COME ON!
Two changes were made by David Flitcroft as he looked to release the hand break on our attack – introducing Jorge Grant and Jacob Mellis for Alex MacDonald and Willem Tomlinson, who both settled for a place on the bench.
Mansfield started with a real spring in their step and should have taken the lead on five minutes as Jones connected with a left sided cross, denied by a fine save from Roche – whp just a minute later, denied Mellis as he thundered a shot forward.
Jones, Hamilton and Walker all had opportunities for an opening but couldn’t quite force open the door, Roche then made a double save on 21 minutes first denying Walker, and then Hamilton on the follow up.
Four minutes later Roche was at it again, denying Grant’s long range effort before back peddling to tip the spinning ball off of the line – Mansfield were really asking questions and got the answer on the half-hour, as Jacob Mellis’ driven effort from Benning’s cut back, finally got the better of Roche.
Ten minutes later Mellis was denied again this time by a Morecambe defender – Gethin Jones had the final effort of the half, again denied by an on forn Roche, who single handily kept the score to just 1-0 Mansfield.
A change of shape from the visitors at the break made it harder for Mansfield but that didn’t stop Roche being called into action again, denying Grant with his feet on 48 minutes before Walker turned the ball wide on 57 minutes from a Stags corner.
Mansfield then soaked up pressure where Morecambe looked like they would burst Mansfield’s bubble, the chief had other ideas and doubled the Stags lead on 70 minutes – showing great composure to turn inside the box and drill into the net.
Three minutes later the Stags made it 3-0 as Hamilton twisted and turned his way beyond Roche, before the icing was put on the cake with five minutes remaining by knight of the relm Sir Mal Benning, whose long range effort zipped beyond Roche to seal a massive victory for Mansfield Town – lifting them to second as Bury lost 3-1 at Newport, MK Dons move up to third, having beaten Conference bound Notts County 2-1 – Mansfield go one point above MK Dons with the 4-0 victory widening the goal difference to +8 goals over MK. Bury sit fourth two points behind Stags with +7 goals in the Stags’ favour.
It’s still all to play for.
FULL TIME: Mansfield Town 4-0 Morecambe
STAGS [3-4-1-2] Conrad Logan, Matt Preston, Krystian Pearce ©, Ryan Sweeney, Gethin Jones, Neal Bishop (Willem Tomlinson 83), Jacob Mellis, Mal Benning, Jorge Grant (Alex MacDonald 72), Tyler Walker (Danny Rose 77), CJ Hamilton
Unused Subs: Jordan Smith, Will Atkinson, Zayn Hakeem, Ben Turner
Referee: Trevor Kettle
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
Full Time Score Mansfield Town 1-0 Cambridge United
Competition Sky Bet League Two
Venue One Call Stadium
Stags Goal Scorer(s) Tyler Walker
Attendance 4,789 (307)
Craig Priest writes…
I hate the end of the season so much. Not for the fact that in a few weeks’ time I’ll have nothing to do on a Saturday, but for the fact that now the pressure is really on and everything we’ve worked for and hoped for is within in touching distance – the stress factor is ramped up! Alas, when Mansfield Town focus on what’s in front of them and nothing else and get the job done – I bloody love it!
The squad’s professionalism yesterday above all yesterday was pivotal, we didn’t cave in when things weren’t quite happening and we didn’t give up. We don’t need to play pretty, we need to be united, win our tackles and battles and then when the opportunity presents itself, bury it!
Everything else, other results etc, will take care of themselves – we simply can’t affect them, but by winning our games and staying solid at the back we can make these final five games as difficult as humanly possible for the teams around us.
Bury’s problems off the pitch will not hurt that group of players for long, they have some good experienced heads that will carry them with key players to return from suspension – but in the here and now we have made life harder for them by leap frogging them into second as they drop to fourth, a point and three goals behind – someone buy Hallam Hope a drink.
MK Dons in second were unlucky to be beaten by Champions-Elect Lincoln but we still have to go to their place on the final day, and over the next two weeks they face still very much in the hunt Tranmere and escapolgist-wannabes Notts County – Nothing is set in stone and nothing is secure at this stage, I wish it bloody was.
For us we have no easy game, we focus now soley on the journey to Northampton and monitoring the players who are going to be critical to us. Forget changes for changes sake, we make them based on honesty, injury and illness – nothing more, nothing less, you can’t disrupt the focus and energy the squad has harnessed over the last two weekends.
Every single person played a part yesterday and whilst it wasn’t as dominant as Exeter last weekend, it was a victory and that is what matters, Forget throwing players under the bus for a lack of fitness or a misplaced pass. Forget your personal feelings towards them – they are playing for Mansfield Town Football Club and trying their dam hardest to deliver League One football for us as supporters and the town. We need to be together as we were yesterday – let’s pack out Northampton and be grounded, FIVE more to go – that’s five more opportunities for the table to change, so let’s focus on ONE game, ONE team and ONE dream.
There was no surprise whatsoever to see an unchanged line-up named by David Flitcroft, although there were changes on the bench, with Jorge Grant deemed fit enough and Ryan Sweeney back from his bug.
It was a slow and tentative start at the One Call Stadium, Mansfield enjoyed the better of the ball but opportunities were a lot harder to come by up against a stubborn Camridge United side – the Stags livening up on 21 minutes when Hamilton softly went down in the box, Craig Hicks had non-of-it and waved away the claims for a second spot kick in as many games.
Three minutes later former Stag George Taft thwarted Hamilton as tried to find a way through before on 29 minutes Logan was called into action at the other end, turning away Brad Halliday’s effort.
Mansfield saw Walker hit a long range effort on the stroke of half-time, and whilst the teams were level and the Stags slightly on top – Mansfield needed to take it to the next level to break down the visitors.
Ryan Sweeney replaced Turner at the break with Flitcroft revealing in his post-match interview that Turner was carrying a knock, picked up during the first half, and didn’t want to let down his team mates by allowing Cambridge in – THAT is what makes MTFC, honesty and team progression over individual gain.
Things started to heat up on 51 minutes as the Stags were denied a spot kick for what appeared a blatant hand ball, and on the hour injected some more life into their attack as Mellis replaced Bishop and Danny Rose made his long awaited return – replacing Jones with Hamilton switching to wing-back.
Four minutes later the duo were heavily involved in the Stags goal – Mellis’ pressure allowed him to win the ball back and feed in Walker, Rose peeled off at the far post and dragged two defenders with him, creating the space for Walker to do what Walker does – score!
Mansfield had the chance for a second when Walker looked to send Rose on his way but put a bit too much on the pass, before on 85 minutes, Benning made the cut back for Walker who turned the ball wide via a late deflection.
On 90 minutes Conrad Logan made a fine save to deny Hepburn-Murphy before four minutes of sheer hell, Cambridge on top but failing to find a way through – the full time whistle, a welcome sound – giving Mansfield three massive points.
FULL TIME: Mansfield Town 1-0 Cambridge United
STAGS [3-4-1-2] Conrad Logan, Matt Preston, Krystian Pearce ©, Ben Turner (Ryan Sweeney HT), Gethin Jones (Danny Rose 60), Neal Bishop (Jacob Mellis 60), Willem Tomlinson, Mal Benning, Alex MacDonald, Tyler Walker, CJ Hamilton
Unused Subs: Jordan Smith, Jorge Grant, Will Atkinson, Zayn Hakeem
Referee: Craig Hicks
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