Craig Priest writes…
Last weekend at Crawley left me confused, this weekend as we took on Yeovil and played out a disappointing goalless and soulless draw – I’m even more confused but can’t help wondering if Mansfield have blown a gasket, and just limping their way along to January to try and get it fixed.
There you are cruising down the motorway when all of a sudden the warning lights start to flash; you move over and stop – beaten, as we we’re at Crawley. After some swearing, investigation and tinkering, you’re able to limp on out of harm’s way but for how long until you need to fully start from scratch? Can Mansfield afford to do so, or will a quick tinker of the right parts from Evans do the job to get us to our intended League One Destination?
I’m no mechanic nor football manager but something isn’t right. I can’t decide if we were just unlucky, for instance Yeovil’s Artur Krysiak has made at least four match winning saves – whilst, at the other end, his opposite number Logan has had little to do. We’ve changed systems to a 3-4-1-2 and been solid as a back three and moved the ball well across midfield – we’ve knocked on the door but been unable to blown the thing down!
Or… have we been un troubled by a poor side languishing in 20th, done little with the ball and been so tame in our finishing that we’d struggle to crush a polystyrene cup?
Personally I think it’s the former, we’ve been trying to light the fire but no spark – which I wouldn’t be too concerned with two or three months back, but after a 12 game unbeaten run it seems like we’re undoing or own work by failing to stand once fallen.
The January transfer window is nearly upon us – I don’t think we need to add any reinforcements at the back, if anything we can afford to lose one, maybe two to free up some funds – Taft will be one, he’ll extend his stay at Cambridge though I think he could do a job for us, whilst Mirfin or Benning will be the other, Benning seems to yo-yo in and out of the side whilst Mirfin seems injury prone and did not come here to be bottom of the pecking order which he is over Diamond, Bennett, Pearce and actually Digby.
We need a defensive minded midfield player to balance out the attacking and creative scale, Digby is capable but a far better central defender whilst the others, Atkinson, Byrom, Potter, Mellis and Butcher are all on the attacking side.
I don’t really need to write that we need a goal scorer do I? That much is obvious!
We’ve spent so many Christmas’ watching Mansfield Town being Bah Humbug, we need to make like Santa Claus now and deliver no matter where we go, who we take on or what obstacles we face. You can sit and smash your head against a table and think what if, you can sit and drown in all the negatives you can pull from bad experiences – or, you can get out there, make the tweaks and battle on. Remember after all that a true champion, was once a contender who simply refused to give up.
Steve Evans made sweeping changes from the side which were beaten tamely at Crawley, with a system change seeing four in and four out – Pearce, Benning, Mellis and Angol those coming into the fold.
The Stags started with real intent and dominated the first five minutes with no reward, as MacDonald, Benning and Rose were all thwarted by Krysiak in the Glovers’ goal.
Alex MacDonald whistled one just past the post on six minutes before a minute later Logan was called into action as the visitors caught sight of goal – the Irish glovesman down well to deny Francious Zoko from the edge of the box.
The visitors then nearly grabbed the opener as Stags came unstuck on 16 minutes, Sam Surridge crashed a header against the woodwork after Otis Khan created space to whip in a cross.
A minute later Logan produced a first class save as Worthington saw the ball deflected into his path, his effort wrong footed Logan who recovered to scramble the ball away – four minutes later it was Logan’s opposite number Krysiak with the save as Benning whipped in for MacDonald, he cut back inside and curled low but saw his effort beaten away.
Both sides continued to battle, but created no clear cut opportunities before the refree called a halt to the proceedings with the half time whistle.
On 65 minutes a training ground free-kick saw MacDonald spin to hit a free-kick – his effort this time lacked and zest and was comfortable for Krysiak in the Yevoil goal. The Stags then switched formation back to 4-4-2 as Hamilton replaced Bennett, fellow substitute Paul Anderson moving up front to partner Rose after replacing the in-effective Angol on the hour.
The fast footed wing man was involved from the off, lightening pace opened Yeovil up down the left hand side but his cross evaded both Anderson and MacDonald who made good runs to create an opening.
MacDonald then set Hamilton on 70 minutes with a teasing cross – Hamilton’s volley well saved by Krysiak. Five minutes later Yeovil somehow hung on as Pearce stayed forward to poke the ball back into the mix, Anderson swung everything at it, but it just wouldn’t drop.
With seven minutes to go, Krysiak again earned his wage with a fine stop – this time Anderson with a header which the shot stopper flew through the air to punch away. The Stags couldn’t muster another effort despite seven additional minutes as Yeovil got what the came for – a point.
FULL TIME: Stags 0-0 Yevoil
Krystian Pearce – Zander Diamond © - Rhys Bennett (CJ Hamilton 66)
Hayden White – Will Atkinson – Jacob Mellis (Calum Butcher 81) – Mal Benning
Lee Angol (Paul Anderson 60) – Danny Rose
Unused Substitutes: Bobby Oljenik, Paul Digby, Jimmy Spencer, Alfie Potter
REFEREE: Martin Coy Assistants Steven Plane, Paul Thompson Fourth Official James Bell
Attendance: 3,032 (86)
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