Full Time Score Mansfield Town 0-0 Swindon
Competition Sky Bet League Two
Venue One Call Stadium
Stags Goal Scorer(s) /
Attendance 5,311 (486)
Craig Priest writes…
When you’re on a run like ours, sometimes you get an air of arrogance and expect to come out of games with all three points – it’s times like that where you get beat and start a downfall, fortunately for the Stags, the goalless draw with Swindon is one we can put down to a bad day at the office, but one where we still got the job done to the minimum requirement.
There’s always that day over the Christmas period where you have no idea what the time is, where you are, what you are supposed to be doing and frankly just can’t be bothered – I saw a bit of that in yesterday’s performance, but also know that the match was played in a tough wind and against a side who were not simply going to let us play our free flowing game.
The most concerning thing for me was that tempers began to boil over, in particular between the back three and goalkeeper Conrad Logan, as both parties had the right to be angry over either miss placed back passes, taking too long or not coming out in support.
Mansfield’s game is set to be played from the back and that trust between keeper and defenders is paramount to that being a success, we need to iron out these clear indifferences – especially coming up against teams who press high and keep teams penned in, we were very fortunate to see Logan pull off some very good saves to rectify errors from both parties.
The important thing in a game you can’t seem to get a grip in is to defend the clean sheet and the point, and then try and take the opportunities when they come – Mansfield to their credit did just that especially in the last five/ten minutes, but met their match in a Swindon side determined not to leave without a point.
All in all I’m pleased with the result, we are unbeaten in 16 league games having lost once in the league all season, we perhaps need to freshen the line-up up against Grimsby as its 1st vs 2nd in the form table for the last eight games, and given the fact the Stags always struggle at Grimsby – we have to work hard to protect our record and make progress.
2018 has been great, 2019 can be even better if we keep our heads and focus. COME ON YOU STAGS
David Flitcroft named an unchanged starting line-up once more and started early looking for the vital opener, CJ Hamilton’s third minute effort was blocked well, before Timi Elsnik fed in Walker, whose shot deflected onto the roof of the Swindon net.
At the other end Conrad Logan pulled off a fine save on 11 minutes to thwart Keshi Anderson before a cross from White nearly bounced in at the other end, Mal Benning saw an effort from a corner blocked and Tyler Walker couldn’t beat Lawrence Vigouroux in the Swindon goal, as he made a good save.
Logan was then the one making a save to deny Matt Taylor from a free kick on 27 minutes, ten minutes later his opposite number was in action – again denying leading marksman Tyler Walker’s thunderous effort.
Both sides enjoyed a chance each before the break, Ex-Swindon man Elsnik curled one over the bar, before Anderson called Logan into action – neither could impact on the 0-0 scoreline at the break.
Mansfield began the second half as they’d started the first, Mellis nodded narrowly wide from Benning’s cross with the half merely two minutes old, Neal Bishop also tested the water with a peach of a cross, CJ Hamilton unlucky to not connect at the back post.
On 67 Walker was again denied by the visiting keeper, who was again involved on 79, this time flashing an effort wide of the target.
Late on it was all Mansfield as Hamilton was next to be denied by Vigouroux before Substitute Rose saw a header deflect wide for a late corner which, sadly, led to nothing bar the sound of the referee’s whistle for full time.
FULL TIME: Mansfield Town 0-0 Swindon
STAGS [3-4-1-2]: Conrad Logan, Matt Preston, Krystian Pearce, Ryan Sweeney, Hayden White, Jacob Mellis, Neal Bishop, Mal Benning (Danny Rose 79), Timi Elsnik (Otis Khan 60), CJ Hamilton, Tyler Walker
Unused Subs: Jake Kean, Will Atkinson, Calum Butcher, Jason Law, Jordan Graham
Referee: Trevor Kettle
Full Time Score Mansfield Town 2-1 Bury
Competition Sky Bet League Two
Venue One Call Stadium
Stags Goal Scorer(s) CJ Hamilton, Tyler Walker (Pen)
Attendance 4,959 (516)
Craig Priest writes…
Having not won on Boxing Day for ten years prior to yesterday’s clash, Stags fans were asking Santa for an added dose of luck mixed with optimism along with their three points – boy did the big guy delivery as the Stags buried the Ghost of Christmas past, against promotion rivals Bury.
Mansfield were again magnificent in their approach to the fixture and whilst they didn’t have it all their own way against a very good Bury side, Flitcroft’s men stood firm and kept on going until the rewards came, the only negative being throwing away the clean sheet by conceding a needless, cheap, penalty.
Overall Mansfield’s play is brilliant week upon week and we are really seeing the quality from individuals shine through, the pass from Mellis to CJ for the first goal a prime example, whilst Rose’s ferocious header to win Mansfield a penalty was the mark of the fine player he is.
We have a real flow about us at the moment and when you think about the players still to come back into the mix, I have to really stop myself getting carried away and thinking about what could be – it is vitally important to finish 2018 on a high on Saturday with another three points and then do the recruitment both early and well.
The Stags were unchanged from Saturday’s come from behind victory over Stevenage and were on the back foot inside the opening ten minutes, Conrad Logan called into action on two minutes to deny O’Connell, three minutes later the Stags shot stopper was back peddling but did enough to keep out O’Shea, who tried to chip the Stags glovesman from distance.
Mansfield had their first real chance on 15 minutes as Mellis and Elsnik worked a short corner, the latter feeding the former into the box where his fizzing effort was blocked well, a minute later Mellis was again denied – this time by the side netting following White’s pin point cross park ball.
The Stags were starting to get on top and typically it was Hamilton causing trouble, in over the top the lightening dinger turned defender turned striker turned legend, squared across the box to Bishop – who was denied by a perfect tackle from Ex Stag Stephen Dawson.
Mellis, Walker, White, Benning and Hamilton all had further efforts but couldn’t find the opening required, the match all square at the break.
Bury nearly found the opening for the Stags a minute into the second half as they headed the ball against their own bar, but cometh the hour and lightening struck – as Mellis lofted the ball over the top for CJ to chase and despite the excellent Joe Murphy saving the first effort – Hamilton nodded the looping lose ball into the net to put Mansfield ahead.
Rose replaced Elsnik on 68 minutes and ten minutes later both him and Walker were denied by Murphy, from the resulting corner Rose’s header caused havoc and the referee pointed to the spot, as Sweeney was upended chasing Rose’s flick – Tyler Walker took responsibility and converted expertly to double the Stags lead, netting his 15th goal of the season.
Atkinson replaced Mellis with five minutes to go and nearly made the perfect impact, collecting a loose ball in the middle and dancing his way through, firing wide of the mark once inside the Bury box.
Five minutes of time were added and in the fourth, Matt Preston’s sliding challenge inside the Stags box was too heavy – Jay O’Shea beat Logan from the spot to make it 2-1, fortunately – the full time whistle soon followed and Mansfield sealed three festive points.
FULL TIME: Mansfield Town 2-1 Bury
STAGS [3-4-1-2]: Conrad Logan, Matt Preston, Krystian Pearce, Ryan Sweeney, Hayden White, Jacob Mellis (Will Atkinson 85), Neal Bishop, Mal Benning, Timi Elsnik (Danny Rose 69), CJ Hamilton, Tyler Walker (Jordan Graham 88)
Unused Subs:  Jake Kean, Otis Khan, Calum Butcher, Jason Law
Referee: Ollie Yates
Full Time ScoreStevenage 1-3 Mansfield Town
Competition Sky Bet League Two
Venue Lamex Stadium
Stags Goal Scorer(s) Ryan Sweeney, Tyler Walker (2)
Craig Priest writes…
Mansfield Town delivered the perfect early Christmas present with a commanding display at Stevenage, and despite having to come from a goal behind, reinforced the belief that this could be the season to be jolly – Merry Stagsmas everyone!
After last weekend’s wash out at half time to Forest Green, there were fears that the Stags would be rusty having lost momentum in the horrible winter rain, however if anything – that downpour did nothing bar strengthen the Stags focus and desire to fight, something which was clear yesterday at Stevenage.
From the very first whistle Flitcroft’s men looked thirsty and played some wonderful football and, as has been the story for many a game, should have perhaps been a goal in front – Stevenage saw little sight of the Stags goal and left Logan (who now has a chance following the disappointing injury to Oljenik) as a spectator for long periods of the first half – yet with seconds to go before the break, a cross from the Stevenage right wasn’t deal with and against the odds, the hosts led.
There are two ways to react, blame and crumble, or move on and fight back – this Mansfield Town side is only capable of the latter and set about turning the game on its head with a terrific second half display full of energy, and somewhat anger, to claim the win and protect their reputation as the toughest side to beat in the EFL and the second toughest in the top four leagues, bettered only by unbeaten Liverpool.
This is a team who battle and fight for each other, this is a team who battle and fight for their manager and backroom, this is a team who battle and fight for its fans and who share the same passion – I can honestly say, even going back to the winning run which saw us promoted back into the league, that I’ve never felt this from the players and manager. I’m not daft, I know that the bubble will burst or at least take a hit at some stage, BUT we are on the cusp of something special here and I for one can’t wait to see it continue.
We’ve two tough home games over Christmas in Bury (Boxing Day) and Swindon (29th) where we have to pick up wins now and put together a real forceful run, Bury we owe not only for the late draw at their place, but also the recent loss in the Checkatrade, whilst Swindon fans will want to burst Flitcroft’s bubble and climb up the table.
Finally, Merry Christmas to you and your family – Thanks for reading my ramblings and listening/ watching the podcast – let’s hope Santa brings what we’re all wishing for!!
The Stags named an unchanged side from the one who played 45 minutes at Forest Green, sorry enjoyed 45 minutes of water football! Conrad Logan continued in goal with Oljenik out for the season, Jake Kean on the bench – returning to the club on a short term deal top bolster the goalkeeping department.
Mansfield started with a real intensity and should have been ahead inside the opening two minutes as CJ Hamilton was denied by Scott Cuthbert, Jacob Mellis and Neal Bishop also saw efforts land off target during a first half which the Stags enjoyed lots of the ball.
With ten minutes to go before the break Walker was denied an opening goal by Paul Farman in a one vs one, ten minutes later disaster struck as with what must have been their third sight on goal if that, Stevenage took the lead as Ben Nugent converted a right sided cross.
The stags set about turning the game around after the break and nearly pulled level on 52 minutes as Elsnik found Mellis, his long range effort flew over the bar before three minutes later former Stag Joel Byrom gave the ball away and saw Walker pounce, the loanee’s effort looped over the bar.
Second later though and the goal the Stags needed came as a corner saw the ball fall for Ryan Sweeney who smashed home his first goal in Stags colours to send the visiting fans into raptures.
The travelling support never stopped singing and were momentarily breathless as Stevenage found a rare opening on 76 minutes – Conrad Logan earned heroic status with a venomous save to keep the match at 1-1
Logan’s brilliant save spurred on the Stags and just two minutes later substitute Danny Rose made an impact as he headed a cross back across goal, Tyler Walker made no mistake in converting to put Mansfield back in front.
Mansfield weren’t contempt at 2-1 and set about in search of a much deserved third, they bfound it with four minutes to go as Hamilton burst down the left and whipped in for Walker who was denied by Farman at the first attempt, but at the second, slammed home – three goals for the Stags, two for Walker and another win in the bag.
FULL TIME: Stevenage 1-3 Mansfield Town
STAGS [3-4-1-2]: Conrad Logan, Matt Preston, Krystian Pearce, Ryan Sweeney, Hayden White, Jacob Mellis, Neal Bishop, Mal Benning (Danny Rose 69), Timi Elsnik (Jordan Graham 87), Cj Hamilton, Tyler Walker
Unused Subs:  Jake Kean, Calum Butcher, Jason Law, Will Atkinson
Referee: Dean Whitestone
Full Time ScoreMansfield Town 2-0 Notts County
Competition Sky Bet League Two (Matt Salmon Trophy)
Venue One Call Stadium
Stags Goal Scorer(s) CJ Hamilton (2)
Attendance 6,604 (1,140)
Craig Priest writes…
After a below par cup exit in midweek, the Stags needed to step-up their game as they welcomed rivals Notts County for the start of a brand new era for the Magpies, that’s exactly what happened as lightening struck twice – to ensure a new error at Notts County had begun.
David Flitcroft was hurt by the midweek exit and wasted no time in putting things right with a thoroughly professional display from his players to ride an early County storm and then control the game to silence their relegation troubled neighbors.
CJ Hamilton naturally takes the plaudits with two goals and to be fair, totally deserves them, the work his has put in and the attitude he has shown to develop under Flitcroft has turned him into a real asset who is capable of playing anywhere, yet currently as an out and out front man is giving teams headaches.
Notable mentions go to Pearce and Benning who being the clubs longest serving players know exactly what the fixture means and put in a fitting display, whilst Neal Bishop knew too from the other side of the fence, but didn’t let his past dictate his present and future, with another phenomenal display in the middle.
The whole team spirit is unreal and to be in December having been beaten just once in the league is a real achievement, despite the early draws and lack of fire power it shows we are a real force as a unit who, like a fine wine, seemingly get better with age and time.
We are the hardest team to beat in the league right now with just one loss (and one of three teams in the Football League to have lost just once), which is a record to be proud of – a lot of that comes from being patient and resilient from the back with the second best defence (only by one goal to leader MK Dons) in the league.
Flitcroft has built a tight family unit who are really buying into what we are doing, our core is far stronger than where we were a year ago and as we head into the festive set of fixtures and move towards the next transfer window, we are making real progress to where we dream of being.
The Stags boss may have missed out on manager of the month, but we don’t need accolades yet – we need to be focussed and prepared, and IF we get our recruitment right in January, the rewards WILL come. Recruitment is a BIG thing for us and I’ve no doubt that Flitcroft will get it right however that is another story for another day – let’s enjoy the derby day victory and keep our focus on the bigger picture, starting with a trip to Forest Green next weekend getting back to back victories and like our CJ, prove that lightening, really does strike twice.
There were only a few minor tweaks from midweek as Flitcroft switched keepers, and also brought Elsnik into midfield for Khan, whilst Hamilton replaced Rose to lead the front line.
Notts County under new management were keen to show their new boss they were up for the fight and had early chances to open the scoring, a combination of solid Stags defending and a smart save from Olejnik kept the Magpies at bay, before at the other end on 14 minutes, it was County who were throwing themselves at shots, as Mal Benning pounced on a poor clearance from Ross Fitzsimons – his long range curler cleared off the line.
Hamilton, Walker and Benning all saw further efforts go a miss before Olejnik again pulled off a good save at the other end.
Former Notts man Bishop nearly came back to haunt his former side with ten minutes to go before the break, he was denied by the legs of Fitzsimons before the Notts County glovesman denied Walker.
Olejnik was then involved as the pendulum swung again, he denied Will Patching before the Stags broke the deadlock with a fine flowing move on 37 minutes, CJ Hamilton the man converting – showing great pace to connect with Bennings’ pitch perfect cross.
After the break Mansfield searched for a second as Walker and Hamilton had a pop, the latter hitting the bar, Hayden white also struck the woodwork as his effort smashed against the post as the match approached the hour mark.
CJ Hamilton made it 2-0 on 63 minutes as quick feet saw him dance around the Magpies and turn home, Walker should have made it three just three minutes later as he punced on a Turley mistake, but dragged his effort wide.
Olejnik then had to be alert to keep out Elliott Ward but it was Mansfield who looked the most likely to get a third, Hamilton, Walker, White, Bishop and Substtiute Rose all had efforts, but Notts wouldn’t grant the Stags a third – the full time whistle sealing another derby day victory.
FULL TIME: Mansfield Town 2-0 Notts County
STAGS [3-4-3]: Bobby Olejnik, Matt Preston, Krystain Pearce ©, Ryan Sweeney, Hayden White, Jacob Mellis, Neal Bishop (Will Atkinson 90+2), Timi Elsnik (Otis Khan 81), Mal Benning, CJ Hamilton, Tyler Walker (Danny Rose 86)
Unused Subs: Conrad Logan, Calum Butcher, Jason Law, Jordan Graham
Referee: Jeremy Simpson
The Wembley dream is over in terms of a cup competition as following a well-deserved break, the Stags returned to action and crashed out of the Checkatrade Trophy – losing by a goal to nil to Bury.
It’s disappointing to be out at this stage however after a prolonged rest, I did anticipate a slow and sluggish encounter to get back into the match routine, and in the grand scheme of things I’d much rather get that out of our system on a cold Tuesday night where nothing is truly lost, than in a local derby against the struggling neighbours itching to get off to a good start under new management.
Bury are a very good side as we saw at Gigg Lane earlier this season and I still believe they’ll be challenging in the top seven at the end of the season, they took advantage of our prolonged rest early doors and got a cheap goal, and then marked us out of the game – the lack of spark and desire did worry me a little but again, when Saturday comes I know it will be a whole different story.
Players who needed minutes got minutes and players who needed to be protected got protected – we weren’t played off the park and had opportunities to get back into the game, it just simply wasn’t to be.
We now put all focus on the league and give it our everything, we have made great strides over the last six months of so – this set back, as disappointing as it is, is just that – a set back and a chance to try again.
David Flitcroft put out a strong side having not played since the 24th November, he made three changes from the side which faced Lincoln – Conrad Logan replaced Oljenik between the sticks, Hayden White replaced Atkinson, and Otis Khan replacing Hamilton.
Click HERE for a full comprehensive report from the club
STAGS Logan (GK), White, Benning, Preston, Pearce © (Elsnik 46’), Bishop, Mellis, Khan (Hamilton 46’), Sweeney, Walker, Rose (Davies 46’)
Unused Substitutes: Olejnik (GK), Atkinson, Butcher, Graham.
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